Sexually Abusing the 1st Amendment


If all goes according to plan, an otherwise stately federal courtroom in downtown Los Angeles will be converted into a makeshift movie theater this week, screening a series of graphic – many would say vulgar – sexual fetish videos. At issue is how a jury will define obscenity in a region that boasts its status as the capital of the pornography industry, and at a time when technology has made the taboo adult flicks of a generation ago available to a mainstream audience.

Hollywood filmmaker Ira Isaacs says the videos he sells are works of art, protected under the Constitution. Federal prosecutors contend they are criminally obscene.

– L.A. Times, front page, June 9, 2008

This very recent story goes on to report that jurors have been selected to view hours of hard-core pornography so degrading and bestial that in one video a young "actress" cries uncontrollably throughout. Much of what is depicted is too graphic to relate in this space, but if the jurors find any "literary, scientific, or artistic value" in these videos, they might be declared not legally obscene – according to a 1973 Supreme Court ruling.

Isaacs, 57, a native of the Bronx, is described in the Times as...

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