Censorship

John Stagliano on Censorship

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Over at The Los Angeles Times' Opinion section, adult moviemaker and distributor John Stagliano—currently facing federal obscenity charges that could put him in prison for almost 40 years—is debating Pepperdine Law School's Barry McDonald all week about free expression. Briefly, Stagliano is for it, McDonald not so much. (Full disclosure: Stagliano is a supporter of Reason Foundation, the nonprofit that publishes this website.)

Here's a passage worth reading from Stagliano, auteur of the popular Buttman series and the award-winning Fashionistas:

Barry, your point is that people must be forced to not think things that you don't like, and for that you'd have me put in jail. Your comment that it "seems" to you that viewing images "to obtain sexual pleasure cannot be the healthiest way of experiencing sex" seems not a good enough reason to imprison me for 39 years. In fact, using a proper concept of morality based on individual rights, it is you and those who would put me in jail when I did not infringe on anyone's rights who are behaving immorally.

More here, today and the rest of the week.

Check out Stagliano's Defend Our Porn! website.

If you subscribe to the print edition of reason (only $19.97 for a year's worth of the mag ABC News' John Stossels says is "one sane voice fighting tons of nonsense"), look for a Q&A with Stagliano in the August/September double issue, now winging your way. And look for an extended interview soon at reason.tv, our video site featuring the Drew Carey Project.

If you don't subscribe, do so now! You'll receive 11 action-packed issues of the richly illustrated mag that the Village Voice says is "dictating the libertarian spin" and you'll help underwrite the expenses of publishing the print mag, reason online, and reason.tv.

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NEXT: "Yeah, sure, I know, it's a free country and I ain't got the right. But I got a badge. What do you got?"

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  1. I don’t know much about his work, but I imagine if I saw it I might find it disgusting or offensive.

    But that doesn’t matter because I sure as hell am not going looking for it. I would argue against laws for public display and rely on private shunning of advertisements and the like, but this isn’t even that close to controversial.

  2. Anyone else think he looks like Bob Saget? At least in that picture.

  3. Obama ’08! He’ll keep his hands off so you can keep your hands on.

  4. Saget’s an ass magnet, so that makes sense.

    Read Warren Ellis’ Crooked Little Vein Saturday. The argument running through the book is that anything on-line can be accessed by anyone, so if it’s on-line, then it’s mainstream. And now that almost all former “perversions” are mainstream, then the people who enjoy being a pervert for the sake of being a pervert are forced to come up with an escalating series sexual outrages to keep up, a sort of filth arms race.

    The book itself is short and choppy, but enjoyable. Reads like a Desolation Jones script he couldn’t find anyone to draw, though. A character gets his scrotum inflated with a quart of warm saline solution against his will. Don’t say you weren’t warned.

  5. I’m tired of this, “I find his work disgusting myself, however…,” shit.
    Yeah. I’m not a porn consumer. But you know what? Stagliano is absolutely right.
    “It is you and those who would put me in jail…who are behaving immorally.”
    A-fucking-men. It’s time we stopped ceding those fuckers any claim to the moral highground whatever.
    God this crap makes me angry. Fuck, fuckety-fuck. Somebody hose me down.

  6. Village Voice says [reason] is “dictating the libertarian spin”

    “Spin” is a compliment now?

    No, he doesn’t look like Bob Saget.

  7. Somebody hose me down.

    Be careful, everybody. That sounds like entrapment on an obscenity charge.

  8. Yup the moralizers are completely immoral.

  9. I’m tired of this, “I find his work disgusting myself, however…,” shit.
    Yeah. I’m not a porn consumer. But you know what? Stagliano is absolutely right.
    “It is you and those who would put me in jail…who are behaving immorally.”
    A-fucking-men. It’s time we stopped ceding those fuckers any claim to the moral highground whatever.

    Unless I misunderstand you, and you are talking about some other “Ick, but…” continuation, you basically just did what you said you are tired of.

  10. The argument running through the book is that anything on-line can be accessed by anyone, so if it’s on-line, then it’s mainstream.

    Wouldn’t this be an excellent argument in Stagliano’s defense? That what he does, by this definition being mainstream, is therefore not “obscene”?

  11. I think it makes the point even more poignant to say that you find something disgusting, but will still protect it. I really have no idea what his work is, but my guess is I would actively dislike it, not just not be into it. But I still will do what I can to protect it.

  12. Somebody hose me down.

    Golden shower!

    Next up: Spacedock.

  13. Woohoo! Thanks, Epi.
    And J, I’m just saying that the “standard libertarian disclaimer:” “Porn is icky, Mmmkay? But…,” “Drugs make you do stupid things, Mmmmkay? But…,” “Goat fucking is regarded as twisted in our society, Mmmkay? But…” is becoming tiresome, given the no-nonsense balls-out immorality of our opponents.
    And yes, I do it, too.

  14. I think this administration’s war on porn is simply wrong. Not only do you thave the argument that noone is being forced to watch this and hurt, but I think it’s safe to say that many people enjoy porn and find it part of a stimulating life. Letting people explore different things and lifestyles as long as no one is nonconsensually physically harmed is part of maximizing liberty (credit to On Liberty and J.S.M.).

  15. (And by, “Yes, I do it, too.” I was referring to the libertarian disclaimer, not goat-fucking.)

  16. And by, “Yes, I do it, too.” I was referring to the libertarian disclaimer, not goat-fucking.

    Too late, pervert!

  17. Oh, I don’t think he is immoral* at all, and I completely agree that the people trying to punish him for it are acting monstrously.

    But much like I like to point out that I don’t smoke (pot or tobacco), barely drink, and pretty much only enjoy things that are socially acceptable (except unhealthy food, sigh), I still fight for those things. On H&R alot of people are probably similar (to some of those positions), but in real life, I deal with potheads that don’t mind public smoking bans, porn lovers that think doing drugs without hurting anyone is sick, and all sorts of other people.

    I guess it’s sort of an appeal (unnecessary here, maybe) to those that only work for more tangible personal interests rather than the intangible freedoms.

  18. *at least in relation to his pornography.

  19. His name isn’t really Stagliano, is it?

  20. ‘…the mag ABC News’ John Stossels says is “one sane voice fighting tons of nonsense”…’

    true about reason, but unfortunately, Stossel is a contributor to the nonsense, ofttimes

  21. look for a Q&A with Stagliano in the August/September double issue

    STOP CALLING IT A DOUBLE ISSUE
    YOU LYING FRAUDULENT LOW LIFE THIEVING FUCKS

    You’re just taking vacation and not working for a month. So we subscribers get boned every September because the Reason staff are a bunch of lazy no-good shift abouts (except for Radley, He’s harsh *fist bump*)

  22. Is there something about this guy’s porn that differentiates him from other pornographers? Not that I think he should be charged either way but there must be a reason he is being charged while millions of other pornographers go free? Did he piss off the wrong people or what?

  23. John Stagliano-currently facing federal obscenity charges that could put him in prison for almost 40 years

    He should have raped and dismembered a hooker. He’d be facing less time that way.

  24. This is stupid and an affront to liberty, but it is part of our puritan heritage.

  25. And J, I’m just saying that the “standard libertarian disclaimer:” “Porn is icky, Mmmkay? But…,” “Drugs make you do stupid things, Mmmmkay? But…,” “Goat fucking is regarded as twisted in our society, Mmmkay? But…” is becoming tiresome, given the no-nonsense balls-out immorality of our opponents.

    Yes, this is a common way to frame a libertarian argument. I find it less tiring than the more common

    “Why are they trying to ban X? X is not harmful, X is not a problem, X is really rainbows and kittens. They are lying about the problems X creates just so they can control my life.”

    The acknowledgment that X is a problem, but that this still doesn’t justify a law against it is a much more powerful argument.

  26. Is there something about this guy’s porn that differentiates him from other pornographers?

    Probably just the usual anal, double penetration and ass to mouth.

  27. The acknowledgment that X is a problem, but that this still doesn’t justify a law against it is a much more powerful argument.

    Porn is a problem?

  28. From his website:

    THE UNITED STATES VS JOHN STAGLIANO

    CRIMINAL NUMBER: 08-093

    CHARGE: OBSCENITY

    ARRAINGED: 4/21/08

    Wow, I never thought I would reach this status in the world. I want to thanks the Justice Department for choosing me for this prosecution, I shall endeavor to not disappoint them.

    There is war in America, on the American people. It takes the form of trying to kill pleasure. Perverse as this seems, the government, acting on political pressure from organized forces of evil (real evil, not Evil Empire, fun evil) in this country have made it their mission to see to it that people do not enjoy themselves too much, especially in sexual ways. This thing about ourselves, our sexuality, is something to be proscribed and controlled.

    It is a fundamental thing about living, do I go for things that are expansive? That is, do I wish to extend my experience of this world? Or do I seek a narrow range of life, a range that does not include experimentation? They say this journey to enjoying your sexuality will addict you, it will screw up your life. That is for each of you to consider, but do you think someone should be able to control you, to repress you?

    I have been called by our country to defend the rights of those who dare to love their lives here on earth, and I so love my life, and my freedom. They are trying to take that precious freedom away from me, and from you.

    It is fitting that this issue is the one where I renew my own artistic impressions of ass. I have the stills here from the three scenes of my new release Buttman’s Beautiful Brazilian Ass. I have been away for awhile from making Buttman movies. The pictures in this magazine have been from my other directors at the Evil Empire. But I recently went to Brazil, to make a Buttman movie for the first time in 3 years, just before I was indicted by the feds. So as a tribute to all those who would take our ass art away I’m glad I can present what I think is my best work, my new stuff, on a journey back to what I love.
    -John Stagliano

  29. Epi, the problem is my wife says I’m not allowed to look at it.

  30. Porn is a problem?

    You would need to be more specific for me to respond…

    Porn has the potential to be problematic in a number of ways, even if the general idea is pretty benign.

    I was, however, making a more general statement about how many people frame their libertarian arguments. Far too frequently the arguments are attempts to refute the existence of a problem rather than to propose a better solution than the proposed solution. One that preserves freedom, but addresses the concern that motivates the law/ban.

  31. You never go ass to mouth!

  32. Sometimes you have to.

  33. Just so you know, the previous J is not the J that has been posting in this thread.

    It’s a bit annoying.

  34. I was, however, making a more general statement about how many people frame their libertarian arguments. Far too frequently the arguments are attempts to refute the existence of a problem rather than to propose a better solution than the proposed solution. One that preserves freedom, but addresses the concern that motivates the law/ban.

    I honestly don’t think this applies to pornography, but I agree with this to some extent. I also often feel like some problems are not important enough for their to need a solution, or sometimes that the problem is less negative (even in things more measurable than freedom) than the current solution, but alot of the time people pretend the lesser problem wouldn’t exist at all.

  35. So some government official might respond, “Neu Mexican’s posts have the potential to be problematic in a number of ways. Let’s ban the fucker, or, better yet, lock him up.”
    Then I, as a reasonable libertarian, would have to respond, “Yes, Neu Mexican’s posts are regarded as twisted by some significant segment of society. Let us address that concern. Let us examine it closely. Let us, even, admit that some of the things Neu Mexican posts are, indeed a problem.
    Might we, sir, come to some resolution other than throwing his ass in the can? Is there, your honor, perhaps a better way than sending him to the gulag? Might we, oh most wise one, find an opportunity here to learn and grow that doesn’t involve shipping Neu Mexican to the farthest reaches of the Arctic tundra and letting the polar bears have their way with him? I don’t refute the existance of a problem, but I propose that we grapple with this important issue in a way that, perhaps, preserves freedom.”
    Ahh. Yes. That’s so satisfying I’m going to have to light up a cig.

  36. Did he piss off the wrong people or what?

    I think he pissed on the wrong people.

    (Rimshot)

  37. Is anyone else getting a goat-porn auto-ad?

  38. Anyone else think he looks like Bob Saget? At least in that picture

    More like Saul Rubinek – the Lee Donowitz character in True Romance.

  39. (Rimshot)

    I’m pretty sure that’s the sort of thing that got Stagliano in trouble in the first place.

  40. I would never package my libertarian pitch with a condemnation of how “immoral” porn is- because it’s not.

    But that’s just me. For me, libertarianism is a rational, objective philosophy in the way Objectivism claimed to be but never was. And there is absolutely nothing immoral or shameful about human sexuality. You want nothing to do with it? Fine, that’s your business. But even conceding that an act between two consenting adults can be objectively immoral (which is what these people hear when you condemn it, even if you meant under your own subjective morality rather than the objective morality of non-aggression, self-ownership, etc.*) gives them too much. No one is in a position to pass unsolicited moral judgment on events to which they are not a party (though of course they have every right to be an ass and do so).

  41. Bob Saget is far more obscene than John Stagliano. Don’t believe me? Add The Aristocrats to your Netflix list, find Bob Saget in the special features section and watch that first.

  42. And there is absolutely nothing immoral or shameful about human sexuality.

    i fall far more on the libertine side of whatever the great big venn diagram of libertarian is, but this statement is silly.

    rape is immoral, for starters.

  43. Citizen Nothing,

    There are certainly times when the most valid argument is, indeed, that no problem exists, therefore no solution is warranted.

    If you waste that argument on cases where a well recognized problem exists, it loses its utility for the valid cases. C.F., the global warming debate, the war on drugs, etc…

  44. Is there something about this guy’s porn that differentiates him from other pornographers? Not that I think he should be charged either way but there must be a reason he is being charged while millions of other pornographers go free? Did he piss off the wrong people or what?

    Stagliano’s company, Evil Angel, releases what is called gonzo porn (ie, it’s straight sex without plot or acting), with a lot of fetish-oriented material.

    He’s being prosecuted for a squirting movie (female ejaculation), an enema movie(where women take milk enemas and expel it), and a trailer for Belladonna’s Fetish Fanatic that is available on their website.

    The government’s porn prosecutions have so far gone after people like Max Hardcore and Rob Black, who produce material that tends to be violent.

    The movies Stagliano is being prosecuted over are not, to my knowledge, particularly violent or more extreme than material being produced by other professional pornographers.

    It may also be worth noting that people like Max Hardcore and Rob Black are generally despised within the industry, while Stagliano is one of the most highly respected by his peers.

    The government is just moving down the food chain, going for the easy targets like Max and Rob first.

    As far as pissing off the wrong people, he’s producing pornography in a fundamentalist christian police state. That’s all it takes.

    There is a definite agenda at play here: http://www.usdoj.gov/criminal/optf/

  45. Ska,

    Thank you. I could not remember the actor’s name, but I was thinking the same thing.

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