Skip to comments.Parental advisory: This column discusses 'speech' (Ann Coulter) TRIPLE XXX
Posted on 04/24/2002 3:56:03 PM PDT by TLBSHOW
Whenever a Supreme Court opinion is bristling with references to Renaissance paintings, classical mythology, and "art and literature throughout the ages," you know the court is about to invoke the First Amendment to protect "Bisexual Schoolgirls' Porn Pictures."
Writing for the court, Justice Anthony Kennedy struck down a perfectly sensible federal child porn law last week. Though you might think the attorney general was preparing to rip "War and Peace" off the shelves, the law simply extended the reach of the federal child pornography laws to computer-generated "virtual" images of minors engaging in sexually explicit conduct. Without this law, it will be impossible, in practice, to prosecute any child pornography cases.
In order to prohibit, say, "Youngest Teen Sluts in the World!" while leaving the Federalist Papers unmolested, the law carefully defined "sexually explicit" conduct as: "actual or simulated ... sexual intercourse ... bestiality ... masturbation ... sadistic or masochistic abuse ... or lascivious exhibition of the genitals or pubic area of any person."
In response to this law, Justice Kennedy expounded on William Shakespeare's "Romeo and Juliet" "the most famous pair of teen-age lovers." He continued: "The right to think is the beginning of freedom, and ... speech is the beginning of thought."
Oh, cut it out.
The last smut prosecutions for works with any redeeming value whatsoever took place almost four decades ago. Since then, pornographers have been running amok, producing the most degrading pornography imaginable and then running to the Supreme Court to whine about threats to Shakespeare and "Lady Chatterley's Lover."
Some of the more respectable titles taken off the Internet include: "Preteen Pedophilia XXX," "Kiddie Pix," "Mary's Pictures of Young Nude Girls," "Lolita Angels," "Preteen Nudist Camp," "Naked Little School Girls," "Kiddie Porn Lolitas," "Rape Lolita," "Preteen Incest Rape."
Remember: I'm not the one who says "Preteen Sluts" is protected by the Constitution. Pornography defenders always insist on describing this particular constitutional right in vague euphemisms, such as "material dealing frankly with sex" and "sexually themed material." If I have to endure Justice Kennedy's pompous platitudes when we're talking about "Lolita Angels," then I'm not politely avoiding the topic.
The nation is swimming in pornography. You can't turn on TV without seeing simulated sex scenes. And Kennedy is worried that a law banning computer-generated photos of children engaging in sexually explicit acts will put Shakespeare at risk?
If judges pretended to be this confused when interpreting other laws, there could be no laws about anything. Indeed, Depends undergarments would be a necessity on the high court, as justices struggled with whether that feeling in their bellies meant they had to go to the bathroom or needed to burp. Is it "Othello" or is it "Kiddie Pix"?
In addition to Shakespeare, Kennedy claims that if Congress were permitted to outlaw virtual images of children in explicit sex scenes, movies like "Traffic" and "American Beauty" might be made differently. "[L]egitimate movie producers," Kennedy anxiously warns, might not "risk distributing images in or near the uncertain reach of this law."
Justice William Rehnquist points out in his dissent that both "American Beauty" and "Traffic" were made (and given awards) while this precise child porno law was on the books. Not only that, but during that time, four of five federal appeals courts were upholding the law. As Rehnquist says: "The chill felt by the court ... has apparently never been felt by those who actually make movies."
Moreover, the actress who played a teen-age girl in the crucially important simulated sex scene in "Traffic" was not, in fact, a minor. (Why does no one ever say, "'Casablanca' was a good movie but what it really needed was simulated sex scenes with kids"?) Even high-priced lawyers for the porno industry couldn't come up with more than one "legitimate" Hollywood movie that might possibly theoretically fall under the virtual child porn law.
Here is a description, courtesy of an Internet rating service, of just some of the sex scenes from "American Beauty": "a couple has sex with thrusting, her legs up in the air ... a man is seen from behind masturbating in the shower ... a man masturbates next to his sleeping wife in bed ... a girl stands in front of boy, then takes her bra off and we see her breasts ... a man thinks a male couple is performing fellatio (they are not) ... a father kisses his daughter's teen-age friend, caresses her clothed breasts and pulls off her jeans until she's down to her underwear, and opens her shirt, exposing her bare breasts ... a man has several daydreams of a girl in a bathtub with rose petals covering her; he reaches his hand under the water at her crotch level as she puts her head back and moans."
So Congress can't ban virtual kiddie porn because the law might make producers think twice before making movies with scenes like that? This is the doomsday scenario? A little chilling might lead to "virtual" watchable movies.
I've noticed this is true of most libertarians - they have not shame.
BTW, what statement is kiddie porn making?
How can we argue that liberals should follow the Constitution if we are not willing to do so ourselves? How can we refute their claims that the Constitution is a living document if we use the argument ouselves? When they use the argument that the Constitution should be ignored because our founding fathers could not have forseen X, how can we argue against it if we say that the Constitution should be ignored because our founding fathers could not have forseen Y?
It's not about being a libertine. It's about integrity. It's about sticking to our principles even when we don't like the results. This is one of those times.
Whether American is "awash" in pornography or not is irrelevant. What we don't need is for it to be awash in senseless government regulation. Laws regulating speech or other behaviors should be based upon a reasonable interest by the government. Protecting real children from pornographers is a legitimate insterest on the government's part; protecting "virtual" children is not.
What if I 'think' fire?
Well why do we allow hateful thoughts towards our fellow man? After all isn't racism and bigotry towards race generally harmful for society? Shouldn't we punish such thoughts especially when accompanied by actions? I'm serious. I don't like what the KKK, neo-nazis, black panthers, islamic militants etc. have to say about groups they hate. They encourage violence through their rhetoric. Why do we allow these thoughts?
That is the road you walk down. You may say we can make a distinction between the two(porn vs. bigotry) but our hate crime laws say otherwise. Slander/libel and creating a panic should be the only restrictions the gov't should be able to place on our speech. That covers hate crimes, campaign finance etc.
Child porn is illegal. Doctored & virtual depictions of child porn are disgusting. I would report any I saw to the proper authorities(I am daily bombarded by such sites)so they may sort out what has happened. But the way the law was written, it was lazy and broad. The court said as much when declaring the law unconstitutional. Congress is free to pass a more specific law. That is what we will have to wait for.
But when these are artificial depictions, we are essentially punishing the thought of the creator of such. As vile as many of us find it, just as many have problems with that sort of logic. If this law were upheld, you can bet your bottom dollar that this would be used as a precedent cited to defend hate crimes as constitutional.
I am convinced that it is not speech. I am convinced that any state in the country that wants to make such a video tape contraband has the authority to do so. I hope that all of them have done so.
I am also convinced that the federal government has no authority to pass a law on the matter. The federal government lacks any generalized police power. All the Constitution allows the federal government to declare illegal is treason, counterfeiting, and piracy on the high seas.
You misunderstand the ruling. They ruled that the law was too vague, they did not make any sweeping ruling.
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