The Right To Be Creepy


Brian Dalton is heading back to court. The 24-year-old Ohio man was arrested two years ago for writing child pornography, in a case that has become a free-speech cause celebre. Since Dalton's porn consisted of words, not images, he didn't actually exploit any kids to make it; and since he created it for his own consumption, not to sell or give away, it's hard to argue that it would provoke anyone else to assault any children. He is, in short, in jail for nothing more than writing down unpleasant thoughts.

Yet he initially pleaded guilty to the charges, and has been fighting for the right to withdraw the plea so he could challenge the law's constitutionality. Yesterday he won that right.


NEXT: The London Version of Hitchens-Leaves-The Nation

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  1. How did the police original learn of his writings? He never sold or gave them away.

    Ah –

    “Dalton, who was on probation from a 1998 pandering conviction involving pornographic photographs of children, was charged after his probation officer found the journal during a routine search of his home. “

  2. We have “hate crime” ligislation wherein statists attempt to measure degree of hate thought; so why no have “unpleasant thought” legislation also?

    Hey John Ashcroft, git out there ann due yer duty.

  3. Speaking of bigotry, Bern, any particular reason for the faux Southern accent when you feel the need to mock and ridicule someone?

  4. Well, this thread went right for the jugular, didn’t it? I say you’re all Nazis!

    Seriously, there doesn’t seem to be any subject that makes otherwise reasonable people unreasonable more than child pornography. The most bleeding hearted suddenly seem to think that Saudi-style justice makes sense when this topic comes up.

  5. Thought police will get you if you think bad thoughts – especially about the thought police.

  6. From what I can tell, Dalton has harmed no one. Feds and normative moralists: Get out of his house and his life. Call me when he actually does something that harms others. My number is 1-800-GET-LOST.

  7. This is a straightforward application of first amendment rights. But that of course, has no bearing on how the judge will rule. Just as interesting, is that he was allowed to change his plea because he “received ineffective legal assistance at trial”. I’d say that’s a bar set low enough, that anyone who was represented by a public defender could get over. If only their cases were glamorous enough to attract ‘effective legal assistance’.

  8. well if the journal was a violation of his probation he should go to jail for that, but it shouldn’t be a new c.p. conviction.

  9. It wouldn’t surprise me at all of the journal itself constitues a probation violation. Take the case of cartoonist Mike Diana, convicted on a dubious obscenity charge and subject to three years probation, during which he couldn’t draw anything “obscene” even for his own exclusive use:

  10. Gosh, getting the government off your back must only be legitimate in certain circumstances. Fucking moralists…

  11. It is simply maddening, that one cannot support a principle without being tarred by the same brush that idiots use to smear the most unsavory characters who are protected by that principle. Dalton has the right to be creepy and to his own thoughts, whatever they may be. Any provision of probation or parole that infringes that right ought to be seen as null and void. But for saying this, I am sure that I will someday be told that I “supported pedophilia,” which is most certainly NOT the case.

    What I support is the idea that government should refrain from using coericive force on its peaceful harmless citizens, including but not limited to: religious zealots, perverts, political agitators, the rude and boorish, etc.

    It sounds to me like the “routine search” provision of his probation amounts to an “unreasonable search,” predicated as it is on a restriction of freedom of speech and thought that is disallowed under the first amendment. I haven’t seen any discussion of the fourth amendment here, but I hope it comes up in the legal proceedings. I’d like to see what the bench has to say about fourth amendment relevance to this case.

  12. Fantastic website you have here.

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