This smut case is extreme, even in Los Angeles

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This smut case is extreme, even in Los Angeles

Post by Roofus » Tue Jun 10, 2008 8:56 pm

What violates community obscenity standards in the nation's reputed pornography capital? Federal prosecutors think they have a case.

Ira Isaacs readily admits he produced and sold movies depicting bestiality and sexual activity involving feces and urine. The judge warned potential jurors that the hours of fetish videos included violence against women, and many of them said they don't want to serve because watching would make them sick to their stomachs.

"It's the most extreme material that's ever been put on trial. I don't know of anything more disgusting," said Roger Jon Diamond — Isaacs' own defense attorney.

The case is the most visible effort of a new federal task force designed to crack down on smut in America. Isaacs, however, says his work is an extreme but constitutionally protected form of art.

"There's no question the stuff is disgusting," said Diamond, who has spent much of his career representing pornographers. "The question is should we throw people in jail for it?"

Isaacs, 57, a Los Angeles advertising agency owner who says he used to market fine art in commercial projects, calls himself a "shock artist" and says he went into distributing and producing films about fetishes because "I wanted to do something extreme."

"I'm fighting for art," he said in an interview before his federal trial got under way. "Art is on trial."

He plans to testify as his own expert witness and said he will cite the historic battles over obscenity involving authors James Joyce and D.H. Lawrence.

One of his exhibits, he said, will be a painting of a urinal by famed artist Marcel Duchamp.

Diamond said Isaacs also will tell jurors the works have therapeutic value for people with the same fetishes depicted on screen.

"They don't feel so isolated," Diamond said. "They have fetishes that other people have."

Isaacs makes a brief appearance in one of the videos he produced; others that he distributed were imported from other countries.

The business has been lucrative. At one point, he has said, he was selling 1,000 videos a month at $30 apiece. Then his office was raided by FBI agents who bought his videos online with undercover credit cards.

The government obtained an indictment against Isaacs on a variety of obscenity charges, including importation or transportation of obscene material for sale. Prosecutors have declined to comment about the case.

Jean Rosenbluth, a former federal prosecutor and law professor at University of Southern California, said such prosecutions were rare until the creation of the U.S. Department of Justice Obscenity Prosecution Task Force. Child pornography cases are handled by a separate unit.

"The problem with obscenity is no one really knows what it is," she said. "It's relatively simple to paint something as an artistic effort even if it's offensive."

The test of obscenity still hinges on a 1973 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that held that a work is not legally obscene if it has "literary, artistic, political or scientific value."

Jurors also are asked to determine whether the material in question violates standards of what is acceptable to the community at large.

"This task force was quite controversial and many in the Department of Justice felt that it was a waste of resources," Rosenbluth said. "Because of the pressure, they seem to have chosen the worst cases they can find to prosecute."

Each of the six counts against Isaacs carries a five-year maximum prison sentence. Prosecutors also are seeking forfeiture of assets obtained through his video sales.

"A lot of this is about sending a message — 'Don't make this stuff. Don't put it on the Internet. We don't want it here,'" Rosenbluth said.

Rosenbluth said prosecutors would be emboldened to pursue similar cases if Isaacs is convicted, though there would be lengthy challenges on appeal.

In an unusual twist, the trial is being presided over by the chief judge of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, Alex Kozinski, under a program that allows appellate judges to occasionally handle criminal trials at the District Court level. Kozinski is known as a strong defender of free speech and First Amendment rights.

When jury selection began Monday, he urged prospects to be open about their opinions and incurred an onslaught of negative statements. Within the first hour, he dismissed 26 men and women who said they could not be fair to the defendant because they were repulsed by the subject matter. By day's end, half the panel of 100 had been excused.

"I think watching something like that would make me physically ill, nauseous," said one woman. "It's affecting me physically now just thinking about it."

One man fired angry comments at the ponytailed Isaacs.

"Hearing stuff about feces made me sick and the defendant looks like my ex-business partner who did some of these things. He looks guilty as sin to me," said the man. "It turns my stomach thinking about it."

Several prospects marched up to the judge's bench for private conferences when he told them that the films also involved violence against women. They, too, were excused, as were several who cited their religious beliefs.

Asked how long they would have to watch the movies, Kozinski told them it would be about five hours and "I will be there watching with you. This is part of the job we're doing."

Source: MSNBC
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Re: This smut case is extreme, even in Los Angeles

Post by AgentGreen » Wed Jun 11, 2008 8:01 am

The fact that there's an agency that fights against "obscenity" scares me.

The guy should get grilled for the bestiality stuff, but not stuff between consenting adults, even if it's sick and disgusting.
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Re: This smut case is extreme, even in Los Angeles

Post by |darc| » Wed Jun 11, 2008 6:26 pm

9th Circuit's chief judge posted sexually explicit materials on his website

Alex Kozinski, who is presiding over an obscenity trial in L.A., admits he posted sexually explicit photos and videos. He says he didn't think the public could see the site, which is now blocked.

One of the highest-ranking federal judges in the United States, who is currently presiding over an obscenity trial in Los Angeles, has maintained his own publicly accessible website featuring sexually explicit photos and videos.

Alex Kozinski, chief judge of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, acknowledged in an interview with The Times that he had posted the materials, which included a photo of naked women on all fours painted to look like cows and a video of a half-dressed man cavorting with a sexually aroused farm animal. Some of the material was inappropriate, he conceded, although he defended other sexually explicit content as "funny."

Kozinski, 57, said that he thought the site was for his private storage and that he was not aware the images could be seen by the public, although he also said he had shared some material on the site with friends. After the interview Tuesday evening, he blocked public access to the site.

After details about the website were published on latimes.com this morning, the judge offered to entertain motions to recuse himself from the obscenity trial of Hollywood filmmaker Ira Isaacs, who is accused of distributing criminally obscene sexual fetish videos depicting bestiality and defecation.

Prosecutors said they were conferring with supervisors within the Department of Justice about how to proceed. In the meantime, they wanted jurors to be admonished to disregard publicity in the case. Defense attorney Roger Diamond made no objection to Kozinski continuing to hear the case, which began with opening statements this morning.

This afternoon jurors were taken to the appeals court's offices in Pasadena to view three videos at issue in Issacs' trial.

Stephen Gillers, a New York University law professor who specializes in legal ethics, told The Times that Kozinski should recuse himself from the Isaacs case because "the public can reasonably question his objectivity" concerning the issues at hand.

Gillers, who has known Kozinski for years and called him "a treasure of the federal judiciary," said he took the judge at his word that he did not know the site was publicly available. But he said Kozinski was "seriously negligent" in allowing it to be discovered.

"The phrase 'sober as a judge' resonates with the American public," Gillers said. "We don't want them to reveal their private selves publicly. This is going to upset a lot of people."

Gillers said the disclosure would be humiliating for Kozinski and would "harm his reputation in many quarters," but that the controversy should die there.

He added, however, that if the public concludes the website was intended for the sharing of pornographic material, "that's a transgression of another order."

"It would be very hard for him to come back from that," he said.

Kozinski said he would delete some material from his site, including the photo depicting women as cows, which he said was "degrading . . . and just gross." He also said he planned to get rid of a graphic step-by-step pictorial in which a woman is seen shaving her pubic hair.

Kozinski said he must have accidentally uploaded those images to his server while intending to upload something else. "I would not keep those files intentionally," he said. The judge pointed out that he never used appeals court computers to maintain the site.

The sexually explicit material on Kozinski's site earlier this week was extensive, including images of masturbation, public sex and contortionist sex. There was a slide show striptease featuring a transsexual, and a folder that contained a series of photos of women's crotches as seen through snug fitting clothing or underwear. There were also themes of defecation and urination, though they are not presented in a sexual context.

Kozinski, who was named chief judge of the 9th Circuit last year, is considered a judicial conservative on most issues. He was appointed to the federal bench by then-President Ronald Reagan in 1985. He has a national reputation for a brilliant legal mind and has developed a reputation as a champion of the First Amendment right to freedom of speech and expression. Several years ago, for example, after learning that appeals court administrators had placed filters on computers that denied access to pornography and other materials, Kozinski led a successful effort to have the filters removed.

The judge said it was strictly by chance that he wound up presiding over the Issacs trial in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles. Appeals court judges occasionally hear criminal cases when they have free time on their calendars and the Isaacs case was one of two he was given, the judge said.

Kozinski said he didn't think any of the material he posted on his website would qualify as obscene.

"Is it prurient? I don't know what to tell you," he said. "I think it's odd and interesting. It's part of life."

Before the site was taken down, visitors to http://alex.kozinski.com were greeted with the message: "Ain't nothin' here. Y'all best be movin' on, compadre."

Only those who knew to type in the name of a subdirectory could see the content on the site, which also included some of Kozinski's essays and legal writings as well as music files and personal photos.

The judge said he began saving the sexually explicit materials and other items of interest years ago.

"People send me stuff like this all the time," he said.

He keeps the things he finds interesting or funny with the thought that he might later pass them on to friends, he said.

scott.glover@latimes.com

Times staff writers Ben Welsh and Eric Ulken contributed to this report.

http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me ... 0192.story
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Re: This smut case is extreme, even in Los Angeles

Post by Jaded JAaron77 » Thu Jun 19, 2008 3:20 am

Even as an art student having been fed the modern "anything is art" concept, I don't really see how this could be considered art. ... but sending someone to jail for it? isn't that a little excessive? A hefty fine I could understand, but jail? ...aren't our jails crowded enough already?
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Re: This smut case is extreme, even in Los Angeles

Post by Ex-Cyber » Thu Jun 19, 2008 2:41 pm

Jaded JAaron77 wrote:aren't our jails crowded enough already?
With for-profit prisons, the concept of "crowded enough" probably doesn't exist.
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Re: This smut case is extreme, even in Los Angeles

Post by Lartrak » Fri Jun 20, 2008 1:05 pm

Jurors also are asked to determine whether the material in question violates standards of what is acceptable to the community at large.
That's the problem with obscenity. I can understand the point of obscenity laws within small communities, so they can have some degree of control over what is sold in local stores. But you CAN NOT apply those kinds of rules to the entire country. There is no "acceptable community standard" for the entire USA. It doesn't exist in these terms. It's also impossible to enforce this on the internet, essentially, so what happens is they pick the sellers who are selling physical tapes and DVDs. It's completely selective enforcement, and does nothing to "stem the tide" anyway. So really, all they do is waste lots and lots of tax dollars and occasionally screw over small businesses.

On a side note, I like how they repeatedly reference violence against women and how it sickens these people. I've always found it fascinating and ironic how people are so much more bothered by violence against women then against men. I mean, considering the context, it probably is sickening and misogynistic violence, but the way these people talk about it makes me think it is more about them being women than the actual type of violence.
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Re: This smut case is extreme, even in Los Angeles

Post by Jaded JAaron77 » Sun Jun 22, 2008 4:08 am

Ex-Cyber wrote:
Jaded JAaron77 wrote:aren't our jails crowded enough already?
With for-profit prisons, the concept of "crowded enough" probably doesn't exist.
...for-profit prisons? I've never heard of that... how on earth does it work?
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Re: This smut case is extreme, even in Los Angeles

Post by butters » Sun Jun 22, 2008 7:10 am

Jaded JAaron77 wrote:
Ex-Cyber wrote:
Jaded JAaron77 wrote:aren't our jails crowded enough already?
With for-profit prisons, the concept of "crowded enough" probably doesn't exist.
...for-profit prisons? I've never heard of that... how on earth does it work?
The state pays a company to run a prison for them. It's very common in Texas with minimum security prisons.
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Re: This smut case is extreme, even in Los Angeles

Post by Ex-Cyber » Sun Jun 22, 2008 10:49 am

Lartrak wrote:On a side note, I like how they repeatedly reference violence against women and how it sickens these people. I've always found it fascinating and ironic how people are so much more bothered by violence against women then against men. I mean, considering the context, it probably is sickening and misogynistic violence, but the way these people talk about it makes me think it is more about them being women than the actual type of violence.
I think we still carry around, at some level, the ideas that violence is part of manhood and that women are passive, incapable half-people. It follows that violence against women is violence against the defenseless (hence "women and children").
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Re: This smut case is extreme, even in Los Angeles

Post by Christuserloeser » Sun Jun 22, 2008 11:22 am

Most women I know had at some point experienced sex that could as well be considered rape. There's a great need for society to change its views on manhood and man's sexuality.


That said, women can be violent too and it's as wrong, but at least it seems to be less common.
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