……Aaaaaaaaaaannnnnnnnnddddddddd, we’re back with more of our series of debunking Cameron Rowe’s mountain of crap he calls a “porn expose”. Feel free to review the first three segments at your convenience.
Having finally gotten his fangs out of Sharon Mitchell’s neck, Cameron moves on to take on the briar patch that is obscenity law and its impact on the porn industry. He begins with an attempted dissertation on the infamous case of one Paul Little…also known and hated in some quarters as Max Hardcore.
Max Hardcore was a crusty old geezer in a cowboy hat that violated federal obscenity laws a jury found. The St. Petersburg Times, on October 4, 2008, reported Paul F. Little, aka Max Hardcore, was sentenced to 3 years and 10 months in federal prison for violating Obscenity Laws. He also has 3 years probation after his prison stint. Jurors convicted him on 10 counts of selling obscene material on the Internet and 10 counts of mailing it to Tampa via the United States Mail. The Judge didn’t give him the hardcore sentencing he deserved but he had to forfeit 3 websites to the government, pay a $7,500 fine, and Max Hardcore Entertainment was ordered to pay a $75,000 fine. Little was worth as much as $1.4 million but is now broke. The Judge did not care. In fact, the Judge went easy since he faced 4 years and 9 months in jail and between $1.2 to $2.4 million in fines.
The porn he produced was described as “messy” and violent. Some of the women in his videos claimed they were underage, one said 12 years old actually, then subjected to some violent, near rape actions at his hands. The fifty year old Max loved the “school girl” image and even put “Euro” on the label. He claimed that meant to be only sold in Europe not America but the Judge said that label “Euro” meant it was more hardcore than usual and only the naïve would believe otherwise. Some of his videos were “pretend rape with underage girls”. All the women in his videos were 18 or older but the Judge and Jury threw the book at him. Even Hustler’s Larry Flynt refused to help Max Hardcore in court.
Now…I’m pretty sure that old Max Hardcore did manage to fit the definition of “crusty old geezer”; and his brand of porn wasn’t exactly pleasant to the ears and eyes. Nevertheless, the fact that he was tried and convicted for obscenity charges as part of a political initiative to go after porn in general, seems not to even bother Cameron at all. Even those who probably would have vomited at the sight of Hardcore’s scenes and his treatment of the women involved, nevertheless were able to sense the danger of this prosecution not only to what was still legal and consensual, if pretty brutal, acts.
As to Cameron’s charge that Hardcore used underage girls in his movies….well, none of the prosecutors in that case actually made that accusation, otherwise, they would have added stautory rape and child pornography charges (not to mention sex trafficking charges to their original arsenal. More than likely, he used legal (or barely legal) girls to play “underage” roles. Disgusting??? Unless you are into that, probably. But…still not illegal on its own.
Also…Cameron complains that Max didn’t get the “hardcore” sentence he “deserved”…even though for the counts of obscenity he was convicted for, the sentence he got was probably the maximum offered by law. And, the fine he got was greater than even the assets that was seized by the government, so that’s not quite letting him off the hook.
The 1973 U.S. Supreme Case Miller v. California was used to convict Little. It says obscenity occurs if the work lacks “literary, artistic, political or scientific value” in a “community”. See CNBC’s video. Patrick Trueman, the former US DOJ Chief of Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, said porn producers violate obscenity laws everyday if they were enforced by state and federal laws. Cities use zoning laws to keep porn out. Watch the video for more.
Ahhh….not quite, Cameron. The actual “Miller standard” states that a work can be declared obscene on three basic principles:
1) If it appeals solely to the “prurient interests”;
2) if it lacks “artistic or redeeming value”; and
3) if it goes against “community standards”.
The problem is, though, that the third principle is rather flexible, and can vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, and even from jury to jury. What might be “obscene” in Northern Alabama might not be in Northern California, and historically some state constitutions have offered more protections for sexually explicit material involving consenting adults than others. The only material that is universally found to be held as obscene is child pornography; otherwise, it is a crap shoot.
Now…right-wing Christian activists and “leftist” antipornography “radical feminists” for their own reasons have a more restrictive standard on porn — the former based on the larger “obscenity” standard that any depiction of sex outside of Biblically ordained reproduction within marriage amounts to promoting “sexual sin” and threatens Western civilization; while the latter base their opposition on the notion that porn is the main vehicle for men to “degrade” and “dehumanize” and thus rule over women via the “patriarchy”. Both sides would love to use the power of the State to push to “enforce” the obscenity laws nationwide and wipe porn off the face of the earth.
The primary arm of the Porn Police has been the US Department of Justice’s Obscenity Task Force, of which Pat Trueman was at one time a director. Trueman happens to favor the Religious Right’s POV that porn should be censored as obscenity in its own right, but he’s willing to exploit the radfem “harm to women” argument when it suits him. (Thusly, he invites folks like radfem “leftist” Gail Dines and “ex-slut” Ministeress Shelley Lubben to his press conferences to join forces to slay the savage porn beast.)
Therefore, it’s not all that surprising that Trueman would boast about the Max Hardcore conviction, and would also attempt to say that it applies to all forms of adult sexual media, even the not-so-violent (or even non-violent) forms of erotica. That Cameron takes Trueman’s words as fact rather than mere opinion or political spin says more about Cameron’s innate biases than it does about the truth.
BTW…for the record, this is the video Rowe was talking about. You will note, though, that the vid is actually taken from a segment of a CNBC news documentary on porn, that was republished on You Tube by Max Hardcore’s website before he was convicted. Fascinating that Cameron would attempt to spin it in the exact polar opposite direction.
New York City Mayor Rudy Guiliani used zoning laws to clean up all the porn shops in Times Square. If it can be done in New York, it can be done anywhere. Also, apartment complexes and similar businesses can put a “no-porn clause” in the lease, which is perfectly legal to do. Zoning laws such as no adult business within 1,000 feet of a school or church can effectively kick porn out of a community.
OK…except that Giuliani’s (come on, Cameron, an expert journalist like you should be able to spell his name correctly) drive to “clean up” Times Square actually was began under the administration of previous mayor David Dinkins; that the “clean up” didn’t get rid of all adult businesses, just the most visible; and that even with zoning laws and other means to limit the locations of adult-oriented businesses such as strip clubs, adult bookstores/theaters, and adult moviehouses, they are still existing and easily accessible. Also, VCR’s, the Internet, and online commerce has pretty much rendered much of these businesses obsolete, anyway. It really does depend on the attitude of the neighborhood here.
Neesa, a porn actress, claims she was raped by Max Hardcore (see her YouTube video) in the summer of 2002. She also claims 12 other police complaints of rape were filed against him by other female performers. He’s rather infamous in the porn industry with only a few wanting anything to do with him; Hustler’s Larry Flynt didn’t. The other 12 police complaints could not be found, since rape complaints are usually protected till a prosecution, but Neesa is not releasing names. No proof but her claim so it is up to you to decide.
.But…I guess that proof isn’t really needed, right?? If no complaints against Hardcore can be found, and even Nessa decided not to file a rape complaint against him; and there are other performers who happened to perform with Hardcore who swear on a stack of Bibles that they were never coereced into doing films with him and that everything they did was consensual, then why bring this up to begin with?? And, of course very few people liked his brand of film; but, in the name of defending their own right of free speech, many were more than willing to swallow their objections to defend his rights. Even — and especially — Larry Flynt.
John Stagliano was charged with crimes with his companies associated with Evil Angel porn production company for trafficking obscene material in interstate commerce in 2008. Politico said, “U.S. District Court Judge Richard Leon ordered the acquittal of Stagliano and two companies related to his Evil Angel studio…” on July 16, 2010. Some say the DOJ under Eric Holder blew the case. We’ll probably never know.
Of course, as the world now knows, Stagliano’s case was thrown out of court before his side even got the chance to defend themselves when the presiding judge effectively dismissed the case and threw out the charges, citing the obvious lack of any substansial evidence provided by the prosecutors. That may have been because unlike Max Hardcore, Stagliano (aka “Buttman”) actually made nonviolent hardcore erotica that actually catered to a somewhat sane audience, though the prosecution attempted to use some of the more exotic scenes of fisting (whole hands in woman’s vaginal area); anal sex, enemas, and “golden shower” scenes to freak the jury into convicting. Problem was, the materials used were so poorly reproduced and the transmission of the films in question was so badly botched that the prosecution’s case simply proved too poor for the judge to accept.
Strangely enough, the Politico.com article that Cameron cited emphasized the political background of the case: namely, the battle between the then incoming Obama-led Attorney General Eric Holder and some of the Bush holdout attorneys on the DOJ-OTF who were pushing for this conviction hard, as well as pushing Holder for more obscenity trials.
Why it matters: Recent Democratic administrations haven’t been big fans of obscenity cases, preferring instead to work on child pornography prosecutions. The George W. Bush administration was eventually cajoled into setting up the Obscenity Prosecution Task Force, which brought a handful of cases against purveyors of what the government viewed as “extreme” pornography. No such case has been newly filed since President Barack Obama took office, but the Justice Department and Attorney General Eric Holder allowed the prosecutions still under way to continue.
Stagliano was arguably the most mainstream of the porn producers to face prosecution. Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) has been pressing Holder to keep the obscenity task force running and to allow it to prosecute big-business pornographers and not just fringe players. The prosecution’s stumbles and ultimate failure in the Stagliano case may or may not reflect the broader practicality of obscenity prosecutions in the Internet era. Indeed, the Justice Department did score one high profile win in this area with some guilty pleas just after Obama took office in the so-called Extreme Associates case. But Stagliano’s acquittal will probably give top Justice Department lawyers skeptical of such efforts cover to wind down the obscenity work on practical grounds
The Extreme Associates case was the one involving producers Rob Black and Lizzie Borden, who were successfully prosecuted in Pennsylvania on similar obscenity charges to those charged against Max Hardcore. The successful prosecutor in this case, Mary Beth Buchanan, was ultimately removed from her post by Holder as part of a purge of the more radical Right activists.
So…when Cameron Rowe thinly implies that the Justice Department deliberately tanked the Stagliano case because they were politically tied to the evil porn industry, was he relying on his usual skills of “fair and balanced” journalism…or was he simply making stuff up as usual?? As he himself said, we probably will never know.
Let us call it another night right here, and pick things up next time with the LA County Health Services standards for STI protection that Cameron wants to have imposed on the industry. As well as…why they really might not be needed.