Porn So Icky That It Can't Be Obscene

Today the jury in the federal obscenity trial of fetish filmmaker Ira Isaacs began considering whether his movies, which feature women eating (fake) feces and performing sex acts with (real) dogs, have enough artistic, political, or scientific value to render them nonfelonious. "It is pretty gross, what you watched," conceded Isaacs' lawyer, Roger Diamond, but "it does have artistic value. Not to everybody, but art is not always pleasing." Indeed, Isaacs argues that the disgust evoked by works such as Hollywood Scat Amateurs 7 and Japanese Doggie 3 Way is a crucial part of what makes them artistic. "My intent is to be a shock artist in the movies I made," he testified, "to challenge the viewer in thinking about art differently...to think about things they'd never thought about before." Similarly, Diamond argued that the films have political value as a protest against the governmernt's arbitrary limits on expression, illustrating the "reality that we may not have the total freedom the rest of the world thinks we have."

I will be impressed if Isaacs, who faces a possible penalty of 20 years in prison, can pull off this feat of legal jujitsu, transforming the very qualities that make his movies objectionable into their redeeming value—especially since at least some of the jurors (according to the Los Angeles Times) found the evidence against him literally unwatchable. But if the jurors want to blame someone for making them sit through this assault on their sensibilities, they should not blame Isaacs. They should blame the Justice Department, which initiated the case during the Bush administration, and the Supreme Court, which established the absurdly subjective test they are now supposed to apply. Will they take seriously Isaacs' references to Marcel Duchamp, Robert Rauschenberg, Kiki Smith, and Piero Manzoni, or will they dismiss his artistic name dropping as a desperate attempt to give his masturbation aids a high-minded purpose?

There is a third possibility, one that U.S. District Judge George H. King warned the jurors against: They could reject the very notion of sending people to prison for distributing sexual material, no matter how icky, produced by and for adults. (Let us ignore for the moment the canine performers in Japanese Doggie 3 Way, who apparently were adults but probably were not capable of consent.) AVN correspondent Mark Kernes reports that in his jury instructions King, who had worried aloud about the possibility of nullification while the jurors were outside the courtroom, was "careful to note that even if the jury disagreed with the law, it was still their duty to follow it." Nonsense.

Yes, this is the same obscenity case that was interrupted by the fuss over images on Judge Alex Kozinski's computer, a controversy that ultimately led to a mistrial. Go here for Reason's coverage of John Stagliano's 2010 obscenity trial, where the prosecutors did such a poor job that the judge dismissed the charges. The Obama administration, to the consternation of social conservatives, has said it plans to focus its obscenity efforts on cases involving children from now on. 

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  • Matrix||

    This is so important, it had to be posted twice.

  • Playa Manhattan||

    It is important. I hope I got this quote right:

    "Although I disagree with what you say, I will defend to to the death your right to fuck dogs on video"
    -Evelyn Beatrice Hall

  • JB||

    Obama is a cunt.

    U.S. District Judge George H. King is a cunt.

    If you can put crucifixes in piss and call it art, then this is art.

  • perlhaqr||

    Or the Madonna made of elephant dung. (I mean, don't mistake me, I'm not christian, and not actually offended by the piece of "art" in question, I just think that if one is going to be NEA funded, prosecuting the creator of the other is absurd.)

  • Sparky||

    The squirrels are clearly starting to target reason.com writers more often now. Who will stop the almighty squirrels?

  • sarcasmic||

    Double po

  • sarcasmic||

    Double post!

  • Almanian||

    Teh Pron in a "Can"

    Teh Pron in a "Can't"

    For a magazine called "Reason"....

  • ||

    Of COURSE the powers that be will try to convince you that it's not possible for you to determine their law is immoral in the first place.

    Jury nullification is the last defense against real tyranny.

  • Matrix||

    I dunno. I think a loaded gun in the hands of a strong willed person is the LAST defense against real tyranny.

    But jury nullification is part of the overall defense.

  • Almanian||

    Keep an eye on this one, Officer. Yep - Elimninationist Rhetoric...

  • ||

    It's not his fault--it's that damned Palin and her cross-hairs!

  • Bill Maher||

    Palin is a cunt.

  • ||

    I demand a retraction, an apology, and the end of your political party!

  • perlhaqr||

    Well, Palin certainly has a cunt. I'm not sure that encompasses the entirety of her, though.

  • ||

    Ultimate defense: tyranny's inability to provide food, housing, shoes, graves, iPads, etc.

    Penultimate defense: gun control (i.e., hitting your target).

    Antepenultimate defense: jury nullification.

  • Matrix||

    It should not matter if it is artistic or not. I haven't seen the videos, but I'm pretty sure I would be horrified and sickened to the point of vomitting if I had to sit through them. What I want to know is, were those involved in the production of these films consenting adults? If so, then it is absurd and a waste of taxpayer money that this was even investigated... let alone taken to court.

  • Ryan||

    it is absurd and a waste of taxpayer money

    Welcome to the USA

  • ||

    ^this^

    Unless someone was forced at gunpoint to eat poo or fuck a dog, then this whole thing is a non-issue.

  • ||

    Didn't John Waters have Devine eat dog shit in Pink Flamingos?

  • Almanian||

    Yes.

    *ew*

  • ||

    Didn't John Waters have Devine eat dog shit in Pink Flamingos?

    The Stifmeister did it in American Wedding, yet we don't see that director on trial. Go figure.

  • ||

    I think Jesse Dylan's post American Wedding career has been punishment enough.

  • ||

    I think Jesse Dylan's post American Wedding career has been punishment enough.

    According to Wikipedia:

    "In 2008, he directed the will.i.am Emmy Award winning music video Yes We Can, inspired by Barack Obama's historic run for president."

    So no, I don't think he's been punished enough.

  • ||

    OK, you've convinced me.

  • Joe M||

    And that was real, not something made up to like it.

  • ||

    God that was a great movie. I have to watch that again.

  • Zeb||

    It should never matter in any legal setting whether something is art or not. Having a court decide what is art or not is even more absurd and troubling than having a court decide what is a religion and what is not.

  • Rich||

    Well said.

  • H man||

    The dogs can't consent. So that would be an issue.

    And seriously there's a market for this?!?!? Don't answer that question I really don't want to know.

  • Matrix||

    Rule 34 suggests there's a market for anything.

  • Colonel_Angus||

    Its not a libertarian issue.

    Eroticness is not the purpose of all porn.

  • Zair||

    "The dogs can't consent"

    Without getting too explicit... Would it be reasonable to say that a male dog, presented with a willing female, acting of his own volition, consented? While a female dog would require a bit more physical coercion?

    This is an argument I've heard before, but never quite understood.

  • Arf! Yip! Snap! Woof!||

  • ||

    The dog cant consent? You are kidding right? Or....you have never had a male dog and a menstruating female in the house at the same time.

  • ||

    I'd love to be on that jury. I'd laugh my ass off through every film. I am not easily grossed out.

    I also don't think that the First Amendment has an invisible "unless we don't like the content" clause.

  • ||

    I thought we have established that all talk of bestiality is RACIST? Isn't that what that judge out in Montana got in trouble for?

  • Almanian||

    Racist? I thought it was Specieist?

    I can't keep up any more.

  • ||

    You and I hear a dog fucking joke and think Ewww. Liberals here it and think "he is talking about interracial sex" and get all offended.

    But remember, we are the racist ones.

  • Almanian||

    YOU'RE racist.

    I'M a victim.

    Somehow...

  • ||

    I don't think "ewww." I laugh. Life is too short not to laugh at jokes.

  • IST police||

    that's okay...we will update you at the appropriate time regarding the -ism and -ist you should be concerned about.

  • ||

    g- and f- perhaps?

  • ||

    But here lie the sad sub-sub-fetishits, longing for video of girls being fucked with dog shit.

  • Almanian||

    And here the sub-sub-sub-fetishists, wondering why there's no porn of a man shitting a dog and then eating a woman.

    The humanity!!!

  • Corporate Drone||

    I came.

  • ||

    I wish I could shit out humanity. They keep squirming around in there.

  • ||

    Do you suppose they make dildos shaped like doggie dicks? And how about dog-vag fleshlights? This market's just waiting to be milked.

  • ||

    Red Rocket Dildos, for the Dog Lover in you.

  • Lady||

    How do you get this fucker OUT?!

  • Almanian||

    You shit it as I noted above! But be careful, cause then they eat YOU.

  • Almanian||

    I'm up for the Dalmation Fleshlight...

  • Almanian||

    For a FRIEND. My LAB...him....

  • perlhaqr||

    They make 'em shaped like dragon dicks, so, presumably. Unless canine cock dildoes fall into the uncanny valley of "weird, but not actually weird enough".

  • A Serious Man||

    A crime must have a victim. Porn, especially this type, may be disgusting and immoral, but nobody is victimized by it as long as the performers voluntarily consent to performing.

    Now whether or not you can distribute it within in a certain jurisdiction is a separate issue. I do believe local communities should have the authority to ban adult theaters or video stores if they feel it has a negative impact on their community.

  • Zeb||

    I do believe local communities should have the authority to ban adult theaters or video stores if they feel it has a negative impact on their community.

    I see where you are coming from, but that seems like one of the sort of things that the market will take care of very nicely. I think most laws like that reflect the values teh community likes to think it has rather than the values it actually has. Otherwise, there would be no business for any porn shop that tried to open up.

    Do people still buy porn at stores anyway?

  • Bubbles||

    Oh, yeah. The 3-D kind, if you catch my drift.

  • Jess Asken||

    Should local communities have the authority to ban dog ownership or dog houses if they feel it has a negative impact on their community?

  • Almanian||

    Just what we need - more homeless dogs sleeping on the library steps

  • Gramps||

    Damn right they should.

    And KIDS, too.

  • Colonel_Angus||

    "local communities should have the authority to ban"

    Democracy has no legitimacy over individual liberty.

  • ||

    bingo

  • Zuo||

    What's a valid "local community"? A state of millions? A county of hundreds of thousands? A town of thousands? A neighborhood of hundreds? A street of dozens? Or one dude and his roomates in a house on a lot that he owns?

    Fuck "community".

  • Zeb||

    I can't be the only person who finds it comically absurd that there are any obscenity trials at all in a time when everyone has continuous access to any kind of porn one could imagine. At a certain point, you just need to concede defeat and embrace the porn (or at least ignore it).

    Also, how the hell have federal obscenity laws not been overturned on first amendment grounds by now?

  • Colonel_Angus||

    "At a certain point, you just need to concede defeat and embrace"

    Ah yes, the drug war argument.

  • Zeb||

    I put broad cultural shifts and coercive, violent suppressions of individual liberty in rather different categories.

  • Niven||

    "Also, how the hell have federal obscenity laws not been overturned on first amendment grounds by now?"

    CORPORATIONZZZ AIN'T PEEPLE!

  • Paul ||

    Also, how the hell have federal obscenity laws not been
    overturned on first amendment grounds by now?

    I've been told from a relatively young age that this censorship problem is all Reagan's fault. Seriously.

  • robc||

    The judge should be disbarred.

  • robc||

    Im much more concerned about his anti-nullification views than anything in the videos.

  • Raston Bot||

    Jacob had the proper response, "Nonsense."

  • Hater||

    Legally the judge is not required to let the jury know they can nullify. But I am pretty sure that he is not allowed to tell them they can't.

    This fucker needs to go to jail...

  • ||

    Juror Dean (after judge "informs" jury that they aren't allowed to nullify:

    "Two questions, your honor. First, how would you know? Second, what exactly can you do about it?"

  • ||

    I vaguely remember a trial judge in Texas some years back that jailed some jurors for 'contempt' because the nullified. I wouldnt swear to it, but I think I remember that right.

  • Colonel_Angus||

    Humor and absurdity are artistic values.

  • The Courts||

    We'll decide that.

  • The Obama administration ||

    The Obama administration ... has said it plans to focus its obscenity efforts on cases involving children from now on.

    And you can believe us when we say this, because we never lie and we're always right.

  • Almanian||

    Those damned kids ALWAYS create the most-disgusting obscene pron.

  • ||

    As the great Jack Burton once said, "Oh, my God, no. Please! What is that? Don't tell me!"

  • Almanian||

    Who?

  • Jack Burton||

    ME!

  • ||

    Dude. Jack Burton.

  • ||

    "Who?" is a quote from the movie. Or, rather, I think it was "Who's Jack Burton?"

  • ||

    Stop saying the word!

  • Almanian||

    Who's saying it? What is it?

  • Hint||

    Hsst. It (arghhh) starts with an arghhh.

  • Almanian||

    Yes - Lo Pan asks, "Who?" And Jack Burton says, "JACK BURTON! ME!"

    "You were not brough upon this world to GET IT, Mister Burton!"

    Fucking classic! I love that movie.

  • ||

    Indeed!

    Lo Pan is possibly my favorite villain, ever.

  • ||

    A rare case where the sequel was greater than the original, too.

  • Joe M||

    I wish.

  • Almanian||

    Yeah, see what I did there?

  • Jack Burton||

    Call me "Snake".

  • ||

    Bless Walt Disney for giving us Kurt Russell (his last written words were supposedly, "Kurt Russell").

  • Dekedin||

    The very idea that obscenity laws exist is absurd. It's no coincidence that these prosecutors go after the grossest and most hardcore filmmakers, as their whole goal is to gross out the jury.

  • Almanian||

    These are going to be lyrics in my "Next Great Rock Song"

    "Porn So Icky That It Can't Be Obscene

    Porn So Icky That It Can

    Woman so sticky wanna be a Queen

    Lookin' for stupid, easy man..."

    I think I'll call it "Sticky Icky Porn"

    Oo! Different vibe:

    "Come to my porn

    my sticky icky porn

    Porn So Icky That It Can't Be Obscene.

    Cause if you like my porn

    My sticky icky porn, it's

    Porn So Icky That It Can...."

  • ||

    I believe the definition of "consent" for a dog is: "a place for front paws was available."

  • Zeb||

    Yeah, I'm not terribly worried about sexual consent for male dogs. And most animal sex would be rape by human standards anyway.
    (This is not in any way a comment approving of bestiality)

  • Juice||

    Don't most male animals have to gain "consent" be having flashy colors or doing a nifty little dance?

  • Dan||

    I dunno. Most animal sex I have seen would only be classified as rape.

  • Zeb||

    Birds might be a bit less rapey. I imagine it is much harder to force yourself on something that can fly away.

  • R||

    You would imagine wrong. Just look up "duck rape".

  • ||

    Used to own 3 roosters and 30 hens. It's totally rape.

  • Joe M||

    But if the jurors want to blame someone for making them sit through this assault on their sensibilities, they shouldnot blame Isaacs. They should blame the Justice Department, which initiated the case during the Bush administration, and the Supreme Court, which established the absurdly subjective test they are now supposed to apply.

    It would be awesome if the defense lawyer focused on this.

  • Joe M||

    Agreed: It can't be.

  • Pythagoran||

    Yet another example of the difficulty in maintaining rights when you do something unpopular. Everyone is pro-first amendment until this guy or the westboro's come up. I would have to use the word nullify myself because, honestly,Hollywood Scat Amateurs 7? Call me a prude, but I couldn't say such a thing has artistic value with a straight face. The standard is clearly bullshit though.

  • Judge Wannabe||

    Wait just a sec here. Were they (fake) DOG feces?

  • The Ghost of Potter Stewart||

    I know it when I smell it.

  • Cheech Marin||

    Taste it!

  • Anonymous Coward||

    King, who had worried aloud about the possibility of nullification while the jurors were outside the courtroom, was "careful to note that even if the jury disagreed with the law, it was still their duty to follow it.

    At which point the jury, in a sudden bout of liberty-minded insanity politely asked the judge just what the fuck he was going to do about it if they did not comply.

    The judge is the finder of law. The jury is the finder of fact. Contrary to contemporary jurisprudence, there is a difference between the two.

  • np||

    Obscenity laws, something shared in all Anglo Saxon countries, is an complete affront to the 1st Amendment. (and violence/hate/etc are not legally part obscenity, only sexual matters)

    Convicted felon? Up to 20 years prison? And oh, you don't have to worry about consenting actors at all since it applies to drawings as well!

    Maybe 90% of the stuff out there could be considered obscene. Remember, all you need to do is find a few juries who go "ick". The ONLY reason why we don't see more cases is because there is no way for authorities or anyone to actually determine beforehand if something is actually legally obscene until it goes to court; or a plea bargain is made (this is what most settle for due to the harsh punishment--still fucked up even if you serve much less or no jail time because you'd still be a felon!)

  • Dan||

    How many of you guys wanna see the porn so you can be all grossed out and tell your friends how grossed out you are and then show them the video and record their reaction and put it on YouTube.

    My Guess: A LOT!

    Two Girls One Cup!

  • ||

    Now thats like the dumbest thing I have ever heard of dude, seriously.

    www.Go-Anon.tk

  • porno||

    Jesus talk.

  • Arn0||

    "Today the jury in the federal obscenity trial..."

    Let's put aside the first amendment. What part of your constitution give to the federal government jurisdiction over a obscenity trial ? Even child pornography should not be a federal offense.

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