"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 capitol 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, 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 “the portly defendant, who sports a ponytail and goatee.” He has produced and “starred in” one or more of the videos and calls them (reportedly selling 1,000 or more a month at $30 apiece) “shock art.” With apparent pride, he predicts that many jurors “may not be able to stomach viewing the movies,” some of which feature acts of defecation and of outright bestiality.
He actually goes on to remark, “It’s going to be a circus. I think I’d freak out if I had to watch six hours of the stuff.” But he hopes the court will find his filth protected by the First Amendment, as free “speech” and “expression.”
So he joins the seamy company of pornographers like Larry “Hustler” Flynt, and 80 year-old Hugh “Playboy” Hefner. These latter day pimps — men who market women’s bodies for men’s sexual pleasure — all try to present themselves as defenders of free speech, not the abusers and defamers of freedom that they really are.
But surely, even in this “liberated” age, the L.A. jury won’t find any of Isaac’s sewage legal, right? We still collectively have some sense of morality left, don’t we? Don’t be so sure — wait till you hear who the notorious 9th Circuit Court has assigned as the judge in this case!
Assuming the critical legal role in this case will be 9th Circuit Chief Justice Alex Kozinski, whose courts many liberal and shocking rulings have been overturned by the Supreme Court more than those of any other circuit court in the country. His is the very court which ruled that the words “under God” are unconstitutional in our Pledge of Allegiance!
The L.A. Times reports that Kozinski’s involvement may be “a stroke of luck” for Isaacs. “That is because he is seen as a staunch defender of free speech. When he learned that there were filters banning pornography from computers in the appeals court’s Pasadena offices, he led a successful effort to have the filters removed.”
And Thursday night, as I sat down to start this column, the TV news told of Kozinski himself being discovered to have pornographic materials, nudity and other things, on his Web site! So, guess how this “defender of free speech” will rule, no matter how repulsed his jurors may be?
As this column is posted, Judge Kozinski has granted a 48-hour stay in Isaacs' trial, at the request of the district attorney who, according to the Los Angeles Times, wants to explore “a potential conflict of interest concerning the court having a . . . sexually explicit Web site with similar material to what is on trial here."
Will we ever come to our own senses as a people, and realize that liberty abused becomes license? That freedom isn’t free — it has to be defended against greedy, immoral perversion of the very principle itself?
“Only a moral and virtuous people are capable of freedom; the more corrupt and vicious a society becomes, the more it has need of masters.”
— Benjamin Franklin
“Religion and morality are the twin pillars of freedom.”
— George Washington
“We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. Our constitution was made only for a moral and a religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”
— President John Adams
It’s abundantly clear, from even a cursory reading of our history, of how this miracle we call America came to exist, that our Founding Fathers assumed our citizens wanted liberty to live clean, moral lives. The Founders weren’t trying to come up with a new Ten Commandments or to establish a theocracy.
They didn’t feel it necessary to make laws prohibiting every disgraceful or decadent thing human beings could dream up; they believed the vast majority of Americans, if just given the freedom to live according to their consciences and religious beliefs, could perpetuate a republic in which life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness would be available to all, equally.
It was a utopian vision, yes; some cynics might say it was unrealistic, reflecting a Pollyanna naiveté. Did those early dreamers really expect people to live out their faith, in business and leisure, in personal lives and even politics?
Yes, they did.
And for over 200 years, their expectation was rewarded. The famous statesman/historian Alexis deTocqueville, touring America in the 1830s, wrote: “I sought for the key to the greatness and genius of America in her harbors…in her fertile fields and boundless forests; in her rich mines and vast world commerce; in her public school system and institutions of learning. I sought for it in her democratic Congress and in her matchless Constitution.
“Not until I went into the churches of America and heard her pulpits flame with righteousness did I understand the secret of her genius and power.
“America is great because America is good, and if America ever ceases to be good, America will cease to be great.”
The cessation is under way; the greatness is fading. Do we have the will — the goodness — to defend and reclaim it?
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