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when will ashcroft's moral juggernaut stop?

A few days ago I wrote about Texas v. Castillo (here), the case of an adult who sold an adult comic to another adult, yet was arrested, tried and convicted for obscenity.

ComicCon Pulse had a bit on the case yesterday (Pros respond to the Jesus Castillo case) and several comic industry people, as well as commenters, went off on Bush, Ashcroft and the police state of a puritanical America.

I was going to say, hey, wait a minute here, how did you get from some prudish D.A. on a creepy mission to Ashcroft's America?

Before I could start writing that piece, I came across this story:

Federal prosecutors said today they have charged a North Hollywood wholesaler of adult films with violating federal obscenity laws as the government steps up a campaign against the major distributors of adult entertainment.
The U.S. Justice Department said that its 10-count indictment against Extreme Associates and the husband-and-wife team that owns it is part of a renewed enforcement of federal obscenity laws after more than a decade in which they were rarely imposed. Several more prosecutions of "major purveyors and producers of adult obscenity" are expected in the coming months, the government said in a statement.

Said Ashcroft: "Today's indictment marks an important step in the Department of Justice's strategy for attacking the proliferation of adult obscenity. The Justice Department will continue to focus our efforts on targeted obscenity prosecutions that will deter others from producing and distributing obscene material."

Adult obscenity, otherwise known as pornography.

Since when is it the business of the feds to regulate what adults should or should not be watching, reading or listening to? The porn in question does not involve minors, either on the buying or participating ends.

Who made Ashcroft the evil overlord of morals and purity? And where does the raised fist of "justice" stop? Comic books, adult sex, what's next? Will they come to my house, rip the cable out of my wall and declare Cinemax and The Anime Channel off limits to my adult eyes and ear?

One of the films distributed by the charged company, Extreme Associates, is Forced Entry - Directors Cut, "which depicts the rapes and murders of several women."

Movies like that are a dime a dozen in any Blockbust horror or action section. Anyone remember I Spit on Your Grave? That film would probably give Ashcroft a coronary.

But cracking down on porn and obscene material sounds much better to the voting right than cracking down on horror movies does.

I thought the Castillo case was an anomoly. I was hoping, at least, that while it set a precedent the precedent would never needed to be followed up on, because not too many D.A.s are on a misson to cleanse their community of what they perceive to be filth (though the D.A. in my own county frightens me in that respect).

Once people realize that Ashcroft is more than willing to wipe adult films from the shelves, there will more than a few zealous prosecutors willing to go that extra mile to find something smutty around town to build a court case around so they can rise through the ranks of the moral majority and declare a victory over an adult's right to choose their own entertainment.

Whether or not the owners of Extreme Productions did not follow the laws is not what's so troubling here; the fact that while we are in the midst of a war on terror and war in Iraq, and new threats are being issued every day and every city is crying that they are woefully underprepared for a terrorist attack, this is where our money is going. To stop adults from entertaining each other, to prosecute comic store clerks who are just doing their job.

Beware, comic book and video stores. You never know if that person walking through your door is someone taking the gospel of Ashcroft to heart.

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» The Ashcroft Express from Wunderkinder
Apparently the Victory Act was not enough. The indefatigable Ashcroft is once again wasting time and money better spent defending the country in order to push his moral agenda. This time he's attacking the "proliferation of adult obscenity," i.e. the s... [Read More]

» Don't Mess With Whitey's Porn from Uncategorical
Is the right to produce pornography in which a woman is “raped, beaten, spat on, degraded in every way and finally murdered” really worth a second thought in a country that routinely prevents lower income defendants from having jury trials, imprisons p... [Read More]

» Why I Won't Be Voting for Bush from Interrobang?!
I was reading the Volokh Conspiracy's brief assessment of John Ashcroft, and it just hit me. (Volokh needs to get off Blogger already; the link is hosed, but it's David Bernstein's post of 8/7/03, 6:32 pm.) Before, I'd been musing... [Read More]

» July Referrer Madness from Solonor's Ink Well
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» The Cul-de-Sac for Monday, August 11th from suburban blight
Good morning, blog fans! Get ready for another Breakfast Buffet of bloggy goodness, served up for your reading pleasure. A few folks have expressed interest in why I pick the posts that I pick from their blogs for inclusion in... [Read More]

» Ashcroft\'s Crusade from Mind of Mog
This post of Michele's is scary stuff. It has absolutely nothing to do with the war on terror which Ashcroft is supposed to be fighting and everything to do with the freedom of adults to do adult stuff like read Japanese manga. I think he should sti... [Read More]

Comments

Michele, I think the Justice Dept has whole groups of lawyers that have nothing to do with terror. With that getting all the media play, and thus up for more dollars, the other areas need to buff up their public images so as not to lose funds. So you get stupid anti-trust cases, and things like this.

Remember that "community standards" still apply for porn, so these cases will only be prosecuted where the Justice Dept believes the standards will result in a conviction. It may be our duty to ensure that our community standards allow porn of all types, to prevent just this sort of thing.

And people thought that it was just about comics...

I just keep wondering, every day, when are we going to get a true third party that understands how to protect this country against terrorism and just leave us the hell alone. Yes, that's putting it simply, but that's what I'd like to see. And I just don't understand why there's not a single candidate out there proposing that.

This is the man that had naked statues covered up, how is anyone surprised?

"When are we going to get a third party?"

My prediction is between 2008 and 2016.

Will Smith/Paul Wolfawitz 2008 [I] or ®

I think many people have had enough of the liberal democrates and the far right. If the right prevents the Republicans from moving more center (socially), we'll see many, who are republicans only because the dems are so crazy, finally say they are libertarian (read--anything but dem or rep).

remember the group the "Moral Majority" that went on censorship sprees in the late 70's through the mid '80's (until people got bored with them and started ignoring their idiotarian ranting).... I'm pretty sure Ashcroft and his cronies were somehow involved. How about Tipper's PMRC, the NMRC, PRG and some other nutjob right-wingers??

damn. I had hoped this kind of bullshit faded away with Gore's loss. I figured we'd have seen quite a bit of this shit under Tipper's thumb but not under dubya. Looks like I was wrong.

Remember that "community standards" still apply for porn, so these cases will only be prosecuted where the Justice Dept believes the standards will result in a conviction

The problem is that between mail-order and the Internet, the chances of material you produce ("you" in this case being a producer of pornography) winding up in a community that judges it obscene at very high.

Remember the "Amateur Action" BBS case? The postmaster general of Cordova, TN (my hometown... yay rednecks) connected to a Bay Area BBS, and downloaded porn. The courts held that the BBS had sent the porn to TN; the owners were arrested, prosecuted, and convicted.

Which really leaves us with two options -- carpet-bomb the flyover states, or get the feds to butt out of the porn biz. :)

By the way, did you how that line in the article was worded? "depicts the rapes and murders of several women"... no, it doesn't. It depicts the simulated rapes and murders of several women. And before you say "well sure, but it goes without saying that the rapes and murders were fake", don't be so sure. It's an article of faith among many anti-porn crusaders that snuff films (a) exist, (b) are popular and © are a large part of industry revenue.

So they want to shut down not only freedom of speech but the most lucrative recession/inflation resistant industry that there is.

I guess we can ship the porn jobs overseas now too.

Ashcroft scares me. Bush scares me. Although I'm not a fan of porn per se, I definitely don't think we need to be preventing adults from buying adult material. It's their choice, their decision. And as many others have said, what next? Library books, computer games, newsstand magazines? Why not get rid of most women's fashion magazine as many of those ads feature nudity? Why is that any different? I imagine Ashcroft doesn't think there is one. But as you said, porn is easy to sell to the public as evil, Vogue and Elle are not.

And just as an aside, I find it HARD to believe that Ashcroft didn't pick up some sort of porn in his youth. So what's he working from here, extreme puritan guilt?

I'd like to know exactly what these two are being charged with. Likely it's a shady deal and the general public will never get the true story, only the spin the Justice Department wants us to have. But the facsist direction this government has taken is very scary to me.

it's a damned shame that the government is trying to get rid of porn, and they continue to allow movies like "Gigli" to be made.

where's the sense in that?

I may have just dropped my party affiliation. I think I need to join Republican's Anonymous. "Hi my name is Paul and I'm a Republican."

I always read the press reports about how bad Ashcroft is with a lot of grains of salt. The major media has cried wolf so many times about my civil liberties being destroyed by the evil Ashcroft when what he was doing was targeting terrorists, that you become immune to that sort of hysterical warning.

While it is true that I have no desire to purchase pornography, I also do not want Justice department government dweebs defining for me what I am allowed to read, watch or say.

He just crossed a line...

Jim: Before going nuts about "Right Wingers", remember that Tipper Gore isn't especially "right wing", and Joe Lieberman, if I recall, said some pretty pro-censorship things in his day. Neither the so-called left nor the so-called right have a monopoly on using government to enforce their moral beliefs.

Is wear, fi the founders had known how the Commerce Clause would be abused, they'd have re-written it completely.

And let's not forget that while the moral majority may want to censor porn, the looney left wants to censor anything it deems "offensive" as well, i.e. hate speech. The sword cuts both ways. Those in power always try to enforce their belief systems and moral codes on others. Else why would they seek power?

It's our duty to keep an an eye on all of them, left and right wing alike, to prevent abuses like the Castillo case from happening again.

Michele, since you work with judges, perhaps you'd care to share their reaction to Ashcroft's demand that federal prosecutors report judges who don't hand down sentences in line with what he deems appropriate?

Funny - Gore and Lieberman are pretty right-wing to me and my fellow liberals. Gore for her silly PNRC garbage, and Lieberman for the American Council of Trustees and Alumni, a nice little org he and Cheney founded in 1995 which keeps tabs on college professors who are supposedly "unpatriotic":

http://www.commondreams.org/views01/1213-05.htm

The DOJ is out of control. They are cracking down on kids flying model rockets, although the BATFE calls them 'guided missiles', and the RC airplane hobbyists have seen the beginning of DOJ interest because of their potential misuse by terrorists. Don't laugh, the day may come when you need a backround check to rent a U-haul.

Cuz, y'know, the DOJ had nothing else important to do. And was concerned that someone, somewhere, might, God forbid, be having fun.

Funny - Gore and Lieberman are pretty right-wing to me and my fellow liberals.

Well, anyone's right-wing if you go far enough to the left.

A more useful term, in this situation, is not "left-wing" or "right-wing", but "censorial" -- a term that covers everyone from porn-bashing Ashcroft, to the music-censoring Gore family, to advocates of "anti-hate-speech" laws, to people who want Mark Twain novels banned for their use of the word "nigger".

Thought police are neither left nor right.

Viva senor Ashcroft!
For so long, child porn and other forms of societally destructive obscenity have been permitted to fester unabated in this land. Yes, porn is destructive. It destroys families, it inspires sexual assaults, it destroys a man's proper esteem for a woman, and destroys a woman's proper esteem for herself. Porn trains men to see women as sperm receptacles. Tell me how that does not tear the very fabric of society asunder.
When we ignore the true nature of porn, and instead become slaves to our sinful desires, we do more damage to our own selves than an army of infidel killing muslims can do. We see that enemy, and fight it. We ignore the enemy that gets our rocks off. In the meantime, priests grope young boys, young children are abducted and raped, girls get crevical cancer, chlamydia, and aids, marriages are shattered, kids lose a parent to a mistress/stud, and the dignity of a once proud and respectable nation is lost.
VIVA SENOR ASHCROFT!

Back In the Bubba years I thought to myself no attourney general could be as bad as Janet Reno for blatant abuses of power... damn I hate being wrong. Not only do we need a viable third party in this country we need to be able to directly vote for (and have term limits for) members of the supreme court, the att. general, and the heads of the FCC. These unelected assholes have way too much power over our daily lives.

We need this. I'm tired of this filth in our communities. We need to get morally upstanding and Christian citizens to stand up for what's right when this country is going to hell. If I had the experience, I would do something about it. We need to ban strip clubs, porno, and such from our communities. Show these people that this is not welcome in our country. Not only that, reforom the schools and "education" system.