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[FYI] (Fwd) FC: Porn commissioners want more Net-prosecutions, convictions

------- Forwarded message follows -------
Date sent:      	Fri, 22 Sep 2000 21:01:56 -0400
To:             	politech@politechbot.com
From:           	Declan McCullagh <declan@well.com>
Subject:        	FC: Porn commissioners want more Net-prosecutions, convictions
Send reply to:  	declan@well.com

[Or at least some of them do. --Declan]


    COPA: Peddle Smut, Go to Jail
    by Declan McCullagh

    3:00 a.m. Sep. 20, 2000 PDT
    WASHINGTON -- Porn peddlers should be prosecuted, say members of a
    federal smut commission.

    Conservative members of the Commission on Child Online Protection
    suggested during a meeting Tuesday that the government should
    shield Junior from dirty pictures by imprisoning owners of
    "obscene" websites.

    "I think the deterrent effect is key here," said Commissioner
    Donna Rice Hughes. "One of the main reasons we are seeing so much
    activity in the area (of online pornography) is because they're
    not getting prosecuted."

    Hughes, a former Gary Hart gal pal turned anti-porn advocate and
    author, said that "one well-placed prosecution could send the
    message to the providers of this material that it's not

    But it's not quite that simple: A federal appeals court in June
    blocked prosecutors from filing cases under a new anti-erotica law
    -- ironically, the same one that created the commission. The law
    makes displaying "harmful to minors" materials online a crime.

    That leaves existing federal obscenity laws as the Justice
    Department's remaining lock-up-the-miscreants option.

    "Prosecution in a well-defined way is a good idea," said Michael
    Horowitz, chief of staff to the Justice Department's assistant
    attorney general for the criminal division and a commission
    member. "But it can't be in a splash-bang-wild,
    whatever-you're-going-to-hit method."

    Anti-porn activists in the past have lobbied the Justice
    Department to file more Net-obscenity cases, saying that the
    relatively few federal lawsuits that have been brought demonstrate
    that the Clinton administration is neglecting children online.

    The most recent variation of U.S. obscenity law grew out of the
    1973 Miller v. California Supreme Court case, which upheld a law
    banning the distribution of material that is arousing but "lacks
    serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value." But
    obscenity laws date back much further, to prosecutions in England
    in the early 1700s, and were derived from religious prohibitions
    against blasphemy.

    Critics say obscenity laws violate free speech rights guaranteed
    by the First Amendment.

    Edward de Grazia, one of the founders of Yeshiva University's
    Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, outlines in Girls Lean Back
    Everywhere: The Law of Obscenity and the Assault on Genius how
    obscenity prosecutions imperiled James Joyce's Ulysses, Lenny
    Bruce's monologues, and 2 Live Crew's lyrics.


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