Reason.tv: Obscenity vs. Freedom of Expression

"When did women exchanging bodily fluids and a little light bondage become the most obscene thing in the land?" asks Constance Penley, a University of California at Santa Barbara professor well-known for her classes on pornography.

That question may be answered this week when porn producer John Stagliano's federal obscenity trial enters its second week. Stagliano faces up to 32 years in prison for distributing the adult films Milk Nymphos, Storm Squirters 2: Target Practice, and a promo reel for a trailer for Belladonna's Fetish Fanatic Five via his website for Evil Angel Productions (adults only).

(Full disclosure: Stagliano has been a donor to Reason Foundation, the nonprofit that publishes this website.)

Emboldened by the Stagliano trial, a group of anti-pornography organizations recently held an event to demand a new "War on Pornography." "We have a war on pornography and we're going to win it," declares Patrick Trueman, a former Department of Justice prosecutor and leader of the War on Pornography Coalition. "The pornographers know exactly what they're doing and they're not going to respond to anything but the stick of the law," adds Donna Rice Hughes, founder of Enough is Enough.

But Reason.tv speaks with others, including an adult film actress and fetish film director, who promise to resist the anti-porn crusaders. And there is a bigger issue at stake, says Marty Klein, author of America's War on Sex: The Attack on Law, Lust and Liberty. "The right to see South Park, may actually depend on the right to watch Butt Busters 3," says Klein. "If people want to have the right to do what they want to do, they have to protect the rights of other people to do what other people want to do."

"Obscenity vs. Freedom of Expression" is produced and edited by Hawk Jensen, field produced by Dan Hayes, with camera work by Dan Hayes, Hawk Jensen, Alex Manning, Joshua Swain and Zach Weissmueller.  Production Assistants are Sam Corcos and Jack Gillespie.  Approximately 7.30 minutes.

For a 2008 Reason.tv interview about the case, go here.

To watch Reason.tv's "Lady Chatterley, Milk Nymphos, & John Stagliano," go here.

Go to Reason.tv for downloadable versions of this and all our videos, and subscribe to Reason.tv's YouTube channel to receive automatic notification when new material goes live.

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • ||

    Man, declaring war on porn in this day and age?

    One word: Internet.

    You lose.

  • ||

    I'm afraid that if the puritans prevail, that it will mean net censorship. That's why we need to oppose these people.

  • FCC||

    Ridiculous!

    We just want to make sure all your packets are belong to us delivered fairly. We have no intention of regulating content.

    yet.

  • JB||

    Donna Rice Hughes = stupid cunt.

  • ||

    Yeah I clicked on the "enough is enough" link and looked at their website for about 30 seconds before getting ill. They are conflating child molestation with adults looking at other adults do fun things with each other. Remember it's all for the children!!!

  • ||

    Oh, so they're feminists. I wouldn't have expected that.

  • ||

    WTF, I went to UCSB and I never knew they had a class on porn.

    OOOH the injustice !

  • A is Awesome||

    Go back for a "second degree" wink wink

  • ||

    Obscenity in porn. I'm shocked. I thought that was the whole point of porn. If it is not I need a new hobby.

  • People for Ethical Analingus||

    FREE JOHN STAGLIANO!

    FREE BUTTMAN!

  • ||

    From a federalist standpoint, does anyone think a community should have the right to legally forbid sales of pornography within their jurisdiction? I'm thinking of Cincinnati and Hustler decades ago.

    Obviously, with the interwebs, the distribution networks are much more distributed, so the situation is vastly different... but still - why can't a town support traditional mores via regulation of a business majorities in the town believe to be a harmful influence?

  • zoltan||

    Incorporation of the 1st Amendment via the 14th?

  • Wheem||

    Why should anyone - regardless of their geographical proximity to me - be able to decide what I can and cannot see/hear through some form of media (whether TV, DVD, internet, magazine, or anything else)?

    Should they also be able to decide whether or not I can watch Southpark, Robot Chicken, Modern Marvels on the History Channel, etc...? How about what type/brand of vehicle I drive? How many chairs I have in my house? What color shirt I wear?

    If my behavior does not have a direct, negative impact on some unwilling third party, then neither the community nor government have any business whatsoever telling me what I can and can't do. And it doesn't matter whether that seat of government is hundreds of miles away in Washington DC, or right down the street.

  • ||

    just bump

  • ||

    If you want to talk about limitations on what can be physically sold in a particular jusrisdiction - maybe.

    But not what you do or consume in private.

    That's what makes this case particularly absurd. The videos were purchased online and mailed directly to the consumer. No-one was unwittingly exposed to the material.

    It takes a huge amount of logical contortion to get this to be a violation of community standards, especially when the community judging the videos merits never complained about them in the first place.

    And ultimately its not up to the government to promote mores beyond the bare minimum preventing coercion, fraud, violence.

  • Progressive||

    The first amendment doesn't apply to the states.

  • ||

    Yes it does, see 14A

  • ||

    Stagalino is a victim of his own stupidity. Some people think a pretty girl taking a milk enema
    and enjoying it is weird at best. He will go to Prison for the rest of his life and wonder why.
    Why? You Jerk, did you think a jury is going to
    this is free speech...you should have liquidated all your assets and left the nation to a nation who would not extradite you. Prison will just kill you and others will NOT learn from this especially porn star Belladona who is next to get busted.

  • zoltan||

    Some people think a pretty girl taking a milk enema reading your post
    and enjoying it is weird at best.

    Still does not mean the 1st amendment doesn't apply when lots of people don't like the speech.

  • Elena Kagan||

    Still does not mean the 1st amendment doesn't apply when lots of people don't like the speech.

    I beg to differ...

  • Virginia||

    Did you think she was hotter when she was pregnant? I can't decide.

  • Warty||

    I like her when she's in one of her bull-dyke modes. I don't know what that says about me.

  • Fritz Perls||

    Does she remind you of anyone?

  • Paul||

    girl taking a milk enema

    Coupled with:

    you should have liquidated all your assets

    I really don't know what to do with that.

  • ||

    This means sell all you have put it into cash, take a cab to LAX to Europe and hide.

  • Rich Demanowski||

    What gets my goat is that consensual sex acts are considered "obscene", but raining fire and lead on innocent men, women and children is happily extolled as "patriotic" on national TV.

  • Van||

    ""The pornographers know exactly what they're doing and they're not going to respond to anything but the stick of the law," adds Donna Rice Hughes"

    I've noticed recently that the opponents of pornography advocate control of human behavior. Controlling childrens' behavior, adult behavior, public behavior, the answer is always CONTROL!

    I can imagine sexy blonde Donna Rice Hughes administering the "stick of the law" to Buttman while wearing thigh length black leather boots with spike heals. Maybe forcing him to bow down to her and promise not to make porn again!

    Patrick Trueman on the other hand is a stern Father figure in a suit. He kind of looks like an FBI man or a school principle. Would anyone want to admit to him that they enjoy porn, or any type of sex not mandated by the Fed or by God?

    Americans have heard about the influence of the Puritans and Queen Victoria, but have you heard about the influence of Sigmund Freud on our culture? Where does this command to normalize our behavior come from?

    Can the public be trusted to live freely without controls on their unconscious desires?
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/T.....f_the_Self

  • Virginia||

    The DOJ's Obscenity Prosecution Task Force is in dire need of a blowjob.

    Created in 2005, the Task Force is dedicated exclusively to the protection of America's children and families through the enforcement of our Nation's obscenity laws.

    Another Bush invasive government legacy. Is it really that hard to defund something?

  • Van||

    Children's behavior must be controlled by the Fed, for their own protection.

  • ||

    Is Donna Rice Hughes the same Donna Rice that was boinking Gary Hart?

    Hell hath no fury like that of a convert.

  • ||

    Yep.

    Funny getting a sermon handed down from the mount from her

  • ||

    "He got to howlin' "Repent! Repent!" and I got to moanin' "Save me! Save me!" and the first thing I know he rammed the fear of God into me so fast I never heard my old man's footsteps!"

  • ||

    Yes, the Donna Rice of the Gary Hart scandal is now DBA Donna Rice Hughes.

    Not only a convert, but perhaps a paid operative. She really became the darling of the social conservatives after the Hart takedown.

  • ||

    Did I miss her credit in the video?

    I recognized her, but I kept waiting for the credit to appear.

  • Paul||

    Not only a convert, but perhaps a paid operative. She really became the darling of the social conservatives after the Hart takedown.

    Hart must have been the dumbest politician in the history of dumb politicians.

    If she was a paid operative, it lowers Hart's IQ by another 50 points.

  • People for Ethical Analingus||

    Does anyone know what type of sex they had? Could it have been illegal?

  • Paul||

    So much could be said with that first still of the video.

  • A is Awesome||

    So, yeah, Reason is going all out for support for this guy because he's a financial contributor to Reason.

    Just sayin'

  • ||

    Post hoc, ergo propter hoc much "A"?

    Perhaps Stagliano decided to financially support Reason because of their support of First Amendment issues.

    Reason has consistently supported free expression for other producers of consensual erotica.

  • ||

    The fact that this is even an issue is sick. It's a god damned free country, if you don't like porn, don't watch porn, simple, for the simple minded.

  • ||

    And, didn't Larry Flint already take care of this?

  • Justen Robertson||

    Power perverts and control freaks, meet internet, accept defeat. Or join the BDSM community and for the first time in your vile little lives exercise control over people who volunteer to submit. If the lifestyle gets expensive you can always bring a camera.

  • ||

    Apparently, what the courts said to the FCC was to simply return to pre-2004 enforcement of indecency laws. It doesn't necessarily mean that it's going to open a flood gate of new and worse obscenity the way the naysayers fear it will: Apparently, the gate was tightened a little too much back in 2004.

  • ||

    Yes, Donna Hughes Rice is that Donna Rice. She slept her way to the top with jet setters and wealthy, connected married men, then once set she returned to her bible pounder roots where she tries to stop other women from sleeping their way to the top. Yes, this humble girl dated the likes of Gary Hart, Prince Albert, and Adnan Khashoggi who had a Russian Sable bedspread on his 747 worth more than most peoples homes.

  • ||

    The jury will see the first amendment not as freedom to make money showing women getting milk enema then getting sex in the butt but will see him as "guilty as charged"....they the judge
    will say, bailiff take the defendant from the court. This case is closed.
    Good bye John...its prison for you and why the fuck are you surprised?

  • ProFreeSpeech||

    Case dismissed. Whew , glad this is still a free country, was worried we had an upcoming Theocracy. It's depressing reading the comments here. Im an atheist and I would be angry if I was forced to goto church because others felt I should. Thats how i see your arguments. You don't like it so you want to ban it. The performers and purchasers of porn should have a right as grown adults. I know you'll wont agree regardless,but I'm glad freedom reigned.

  • Scarpe Nike||

    is good

GET REASON MAGAZINE

Get Reason's print or digital edition before it’s posted online

  • Video Game Nation: How gaming is making America freer – and more fun.
  • Matt Welch: How the left turned against free speech.
  • Nothing Left to Cut? Congress can’t live within their means.
  • And much more.

SUBSCRIBE

advertisement