Pornography

Follow-Up: Bush-Era Porn Prosecution Ends in Guilty Plea

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When Mary Beth Buchanan, the U.S. attorney for western Pennsylvania, accused Robert Zicari and Janet Romano of distributing obscene material in 2003, it was the first time in more than a decade that the federal government had prosecuted anyone for producing pornography involving adults. Buchanan picked her target carefully. As Greg Beato noted in his May 2004 reason story "Xtreme Measures," Zicari and Romano, a.k.a. Rob Black and Lizzie Borden, were "known for producing material that even fellow pornographers find objectionable," including simulated rape. Beato described the output of their studio, Extreme Associates, as "explicit porn coupled with the over-the-top gore of slasher movies and the stunts and gross-out spectacles of reality TV."

Facing possible prison sentences of up to 50 years, Zicari and Romano fought the charges. "We will not go away," Zicari said in a 2004 BBC documentary. "We will not back down. We will not cop a plea." But that is what they ended up doing after more than four years of litigation. In March, just before their trial was finally scheduled to begin, Zicari and Romano each pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to distribute obscene materials. Sentencing is scheduled for July 1, and they could face up to five years in prison.

"The materials produced by Extreme Associates were so far across the line between pornography and obscenity," Buchanan said upon announcing the guilty pleas, "we believe any jurisdiction across the country would have found the materials obscene." Yet Zicari and Romano's defense was initially successful. In January 2005 U.S. District Judge Gary Lancaster threw out the case against them, citing the 2003 decision in which the U.S. Supreme Court overturned a Texas sodomy ban. Lancaster concluded that federal obscenity laws "violate the constitutional guarantees of personal liberty and privacy of consenting adults who wish to view defendants' films in private." But that December the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit rejected Lancaster's reasoning and reinstated the charges.

"In the end," Bob Richards, a First Amendment specialist at Penn State University, told Pittsburgh City Paper, "the government wore them down, and the prospect of facing five years in prison was better than the idea of 25 years. But the fact that [anyone is] going to prison for one minute for making a movie starring consenting adults and sold to consenting adults boggles the mind."

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  1. My only point is that if you take the Bible straight, as I’m sure many of Reasons readers do, you will see a lot of the Old Testament stuff as absolutely insane. Even some cursory knowledge of Hebrew and doing some mathematics and logic will tell you that you really won’t get the full deal by just doing regular skill english reading for those books. In other words, there’s more to the books of the Bible than most will ever grasp. I’m not concerned that Mr. Crumb will go to hell or anything crazy like that! It’s just that he, like many types of religionists, seems to take it literally, take it straight…the Bible’s books were not written by straight laced divinity students in 3 piece suits who white wash religious beliefs as if God made them with clothes on…the Bible’s books were written by people with very different mindsets…in order to really get the Books of the Bible, you have to cultivate such a mindset, it’s literally a labyrinth, that’s no joke

  2. My only point is that if you take the Bible straight, as I’m sure many of Reasons readers do, you will see a lot of the Old Testament stuff as absolutely insane. Even some cursory knowledge of Hebrew and doing some mathematics and logic will tell you that you really won’t get the full deal by just doing regular skill english reading for those books. In other words, there’s more to the books of the Bible than most will ever grasp. I’m not concerned that Mr. Crumb will go to hell or anything crazy like that! It’s just that he, like many types of religionists, seems to take it literally, take it straight…the Bible’s books were not written by straight laced divinity students in 3 piece suits who white wash religious beliefs as if God made them with clothes on…the Bible’s books were written by people with very different mindsets…

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