The federal government, having married big

business,

has also married the Christian right.
74 Dec./Jan. 2007

by ALAN BEGNER

Image courtesy of Raging Stallion

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Image courtesy of Digital Playground

s I was driving to work this morning, I heard a story on National Public Radio. This is Monday, November 6th, the day before election day throughout the country. While trying to put a positive spin on allegations that the Justice Department has lightened up on many of its areas of indictment; a high Justice Department Official said, “While we’ve made many less white color and drug cases, you should look at the quality, not the quantity of the cases. More importantly, we are focusing on obscenity indictments, and will be making ever increasing cases in the future. And so, this is a good time to review where we’re at and where we’re going with the Feds.” Since George W. Bush took office in 2001, the number of federal obscenity cases has risen 1,400 percent, to about fifteen indictments a year. U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and Justice Department Task Force Head Bruce Taylor have said that it is the strategy of the U.S. Department of Justice to target farthest out themes and indict in socially conservative locals. At the same time, Justice Department officials announced they will continue to threaten even small storeowners. Nothing is off the table according to the Feds. As I reported in an earlier story, many Assistant U.S. Attorneys have complained about being forced to make obscenity cases a priority. Why is it a priority? The answer is astounding. The federal government, having married big business, has also married the Christian right. A number of large “Christian Value” organizations are big players in the Bush Administration. Bruce Taylor has been linked to Christians for Decency, which was

A

Of course, only in America could a draft dodging President paint a war hero as a coward, and the President as an admired soldier.
by Charles Keating of the Savings & Loans scandal infamy. In July of 2005, Alberto Gonzales met with Phil Burress, the head of Citizens for Community Values, to pursue censoring adult material on television. Burress, a self-proclaimed former porn addict, is so important to the Republican election machine that Presidential Chief Advisor Carl Rove credited him with delivering Ohio in 2004, and the Presidency to Bush. James Dobson, leader of Focus on the Family, similarly has delivered important support from Evangelical Christians. As a result of this and other efforts, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has dramatically stepped up censorship of television programming. They have brought us six-figure fines for the Janet Jackson wardrobe malfunction at the Super Bowl, as well as six-figure fines threatened for simulated sex on television that goes longer than the censors deem necessary to tell the story. Often, the FCC reports hundreds of thousands of complaints about an episode; only to concede that they all come from one complainer (a Christian values organization). As part of this favor, the large hotel chains, including Hilton and Marriott, have been threatened with prosecution unless they remove their pay-per-view adult material from rooms. So far, they have refused to censor themselves. In early 2006, Gonzales and FBI Director Robert Mueller, met privately with representatives of AOL, Comcast, Google, Microsoft and Verizon. They were told they must retain records of their customers’ on-line activities as necessary to fight against terrorism. This was described as including saving the records of users of adult material. It’s bad enough that the Feds have tried to link adult material for adults with child pornography; but now they are linking it to terrorism. Only in America could right wing zealots who demand that everybody be like them take over a President and try to destroy our industry on the most outrageous lies. Of course, only in America could a draft dodging President paint a war hero as a coward, and the President as an admired soldier. Well, we’ve seen what happened to that lie in the results in Iraq. On May 23, 2006, Five Star Video’s owners and some employees were indicted in Phoenix, Arizona on federal obscenity charges. This follows an earlier assault on an adult video production company, Extreme Associates, in Pennsylvania. The promised 2257 assault has begun in earnest. On September 12, 2006, the company doing business as “Girls Gone Wild,” pled guilty to 2257 violations by failing to maintain age and identity documents; and by failing to label its DVDs and video tapes with the custodian’s name and address. They are coughing up about $3.7 million, but are being allowed to continue in business. This prosecution occurred while we are still arguing with the Justice Department over what of the amendments to 2257 are constitutional.

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Dec./Jan. 2007

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Lastly, the Feds have extended obscenity prosecutions in another sad direction. On September 27, 2006, in the Western District of Pennsylvania, Karen Fletcher was indicted. Karen Fletcher writes stories about a child being molested. This is the first indictment in many years against a defendant for using the written word only. These are straight obscenity charges. I am aware of no one having been federally charged with obscenity for “words only” since Kaplan v. California and Kois v. Wisconsin, many years ago. Of course, stories almost always have substantial artist value, and are well within community acceptance, almost anywhere. The Karen Fletcher saga reminds me of the wording on my Larry Flynt t-shirt which says “Killing is a crime; writing about killing is not; having sex is not a crime; writing about it is.” Why? Why indeed Larry. Alan Begner is a nationally recognized first amendment attorney, especially in relation to the adult entertainment business since 1982. Begner is also an adjunct professor of law at John Marshall Law School in Atlanta. ALAN I. BEGNER Begner & Begner, P.C. 1280 West Peachtree Street Ste. 230 Atlanta, Georgia 30309-3446 Main: 404-872-5727 Fax: 404-872-5763 Abegner@bellsouth.net

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