'Shock Artist' Could Get 25 Years for Offending Federal Prosecutors


The first two times the Justice Department prosecuted fetish filmmaker Ira Isaacs for obscenity, the trials ended without a verdict. The third time proved to be the charm on Friday, when a Los Angeles jury rejected his argument that his work has redeeming artistic merit and convicted him on five counts related to films featuring scatology and bestiality that he sold online. "I'm an artist," he testified, "and my stuff is art because I say it is. Art is what artists do." That is pretty much what I was taught in college, but the jury didn't buy it. The self-proclaimed "shock artist" faces up to 25 years in prison for offending federal prosecutors and grossing out 12 jurors.

Previous coverage of the case here.

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  1. um, isn’t there something about not being prosecuted for the same crime more than once?
    Now in this case, can they reprosecute cause you had lasagna for dinner in the first movie, and burritos for dinner in the second movie??? different scat gets different charges? I mean, the burritos are probably much more offensive….

    1. I assume that he continued to sell “new” material after his prior trials. So the latest trial would be for different crimes.

    2. I thought about that. I read up on it a little bit.


      The appeals court ruled against his double jeopardy motion. The Supreme Court refused to hear his double jeopardy motion.

    3. I don’t think that has ever applied to hung juries/mistrials.

      1. Indeed…a mistrial (which hung juries technically are) is viewed as no trial at all.

    4. and isn’t there something called the 1st amendment? I think I heard about it once.

  2. looks like bear shit does hit the fan!

    bada boom, i’ll be in the area all daze

  3. so, same crime, different shit…or is it different shit, same crime…or different shit, different crime…

    OK, I will stop…I have a problem…

    1. So now both Warty and NutraSweet need to be bailed out? We’re going to need to hold a telethon!

      1. I’ll donate one of my old socks if that will help.

        1. It doesn’t, and you’re dead to me now.


          2. YAAAAAAY! If I had known this is all it would take…

    2. I’ve always pictured SugarFree as fatter, beardier and less Jewish.

      1. Are you saying NutraSweet isn’t Jesus?

  4. Must…. not … Google … ‘Scatology’

      1. I’ll get you for that, Rich!

  5. Thank god for the Federal Government, protecting us from yucky stuff.

  6. When I was in High School I saw a movie with a woman doing a horse and a woman doing a dog. It was gross and sad. I guess it still had more artistic merit than Leaving Los Vegas.

    1. The over-rating of Leaving Las Vegas is the real crime here.

      1. Look, Elizabeth Shue looked good in it, and that’s what really counts, right?

        1. I liked her better in Hamlet II.

    2. Not all art has to have artistic merit. It can be shitty, worthless art and still be art.

  7. If you’re offended by mail-order scat videos, you went out looking for things to get offended about and that’s a sick enough fetish that you don’t get to cast stones at anybody else.

    1. They can still cast stones at furries, though, right? Everyone can, right?

      1. Pity the poor sad furry. When pedophiles rank higher in the graces of society than you do, all you deserve is an end to the suffering.

        1. That’s no way to talk about Warty.

          Wait, strike that, that’s exactly the way to talk about Warty.

      2. No. But I’m sure there are people who have a stoning fetish…and if you want a special challenge you can aim a pebble at his erection.

        1. Google it. I dare you.

  8. I wonder how long people are still gonna cling to their love of that dead document called The Constitution.

  9. I’m pretty sure I read in the Bill of Rights that I have the right not to be offended. Amirite?

  10. Why is it that every time I tell someone that being a libertarian isn’t about defending dog-fuckers, somehow one of these cases comes up–where it is about defending…

    This guy doesn’t sound like a very nice guy–not that our rights shouldn’t apply to unpopular people.

    If he was really guilty of some of the things he’s been accused of in terms of persuading women to do the film, then maybe they should have gone after him for that. Maybe the actresses should have sued him for that–if they thought they were mistreated.

    Instead, it looks like the prosecutors used some of those allegations to make him seem like an especially mean guy to the jury, and I don’t see how there’s any good place for that in an obscenity trial.

    Regardless of whether I believe it’s the government’s business do decide what’s obscene, the films are obscene or not regardless of how nice the guy behind the scenes is.

    They should have stuck to judging the content of the film.

    1. There is an important distinction to be made between people who fuck dogs and people who get fucked by dogs. I don’t really want to associate with either, but I disapprove of the former a lot more.

    2. Why does the state have a right to judge the content of the film? They didn’t produce it, they didn’t fund it, and if they aren’t buying it it is none of their business.

      The worst part is the jury, so full of simpletons, that they convict this man on providing product to his customers.

      This is why America is a police state, we have a country full of stupid people.

      1. Why does the state have a right to judge the content of the film?

        I didn’t say they did.

        But from Wikipedia, it looks like they let the prosecutor tell the jury that the guy may have given them commerce in order to get them through the scene, and may have intimidated them in other ways, too.

        What I’m saying is, that shouldn’t have any bearing on an obscenity trial. If they want to charge him with possession or if the actress in question wanted to sue him for intimidating them or something, then that should be a different matter.

        Why would a judge let the prosecutor prejudice a jury with information about the defendant in an obscenity trial? Once again, the films are obscene or not–regardless of any of the personal details of the producer of the film or the cameraman or the guy that delivered the pizza for the crew.

        If this is an obscenity trial, then the film is obscene or not regardless of how nice the people were who produced the film–and personal judgement of the producer’s character shouldn’t be under consideration by the jury.

        As I already said, whether the government has any business making or enforcing obscenity laws is another question entirely. Even IF IF IF you think the government should be in the enforcing obscenity laws business, i.e., this trial doesn’t look like it was conducted properly to me. It looks to me like the judge let the prosecutors prejudice the jury.

  11. If it’s not paid for with an NEA grant than it’s not art. He should have applied for one before making his movies to cover his ass. Then when he was prosecuted the msm would be defending him and admonishing the religous zealots who like to suppress artistic freedom. Yada yada yada.

    1. With the right grant writer, I have no doubt that he could have gotten NEA funding for his “transgressive” investigation of the “subjugation” of women, blah blah.

  12. That is pretty much what I was taught in college, but the jury didn’t buy it.

    So the takeaway is this guy doesn’t have Larry Flint’s lawyer?

  13. That is pretty much what I was taught in college

    I’m sure there are a ton of things you were taught in college that you now (and possibly then) believe are totally moronic.

    If art is art whenever the producer says it is, then art is a meaningless concept.

    1. then art is a meaningless concept

      Duh. It’s art.

    2. Not at all. In fact, that is the only reasonable definition of art there is. Give me another definition that doesn’t rely on the aesthetic preferences of some particular person. Art is whatever is presented as art and that is it. It is the presentation as art that makes it art. Now whether or not it is good or worthwhile art is another question altogether.

      1. If you can’t define a word, or at least determine whether a particular use of the word is correct, then that word is meaningless. By definition.

        1. I have defined it. Art is whatever is presented as art. Art is a cultural creation and as such there is no essential feature that makes it art. It is whatever is being created as art.
          I’d argue that that is a large part of what is good about art. There is no specific definition and half of the pleasure of it is discussing it and criticizing it (and yes, arguing about the definition).

          Since art doesn’t really matter in any concrete way, it is one of the few parts of life where meaning can be fluid and people can explore the very nature of meaning and how we attach meaning to objects.
          So yes, “art” is meaningless in the sense that you suggest, but that is exactly why art is a great thing. The meaning (both of a particular work and of “art” itself) always has to be debated and discussed.

          1. So if I say there’s a drogulus in my kitchen, and upon further questioning claim that anything I call a drogulus is a drogulus…have I said anything meaningful.

    3. If art is art whenever the producer says it is, then art is a meaningless concept.

      The alternative is that art is whatever 12 jurors on a federal panel say it is.

      1. Another alternative is to say that as long as this guy’s filming doesn’t involve harming people or improperly harming animals, it doesn’t matter whether it’s art or not.

        1. How do you improperly harm animals? Does that mean harming animals that don’t belong to you?

    4. Otto, I vividly recall losing this argument as an undergrad.

      Basically, people who claim that something isn’t “art” at all are really just claiming that it is bad art.

      The only real discussion isn’t “art” v. “not art”, its “good art” v. “bad art”.

  14. What about the Supreme Court first amendment challenge? Come on, how are obscenity laws not an obvious and blatant violation of free press?

    The internet should have disabused anyone who thought that obscene material might possibly be eliminated through prosecutions of that notion 10 years ago. How the fuck is this still happening?

    1. It’s not about eliminating obscenity anymore, it’s about scoring political points. Just like barring people convicted of public urination from living within 1000 feet of a school, park, daycare center, bus stop, or Justin Bieber poster isn’t preventing children from being victimized.

      Prosecutors aren’t about enforcing justice anymore…they’re basically like curiosity collectors who have to trap and cage more and more animals to show off to their disgusting admirers.

    2. There have been obscenity convictions in the past already and very few have been successfully appealed, like William Burrough’s Naked Lunch book (several years after the conviction). And none have made it to the Supreme Court that I know off, challenging the constitutionality of obscenity laws themselves. But it seems as if the courts have simply accepted the precedent that established obscenity as unprotected speech, an exception to the 1st amendment since over a 100 years ago. Although all federal obscenity laws, like he’s convicted under, also requires interstate commerce. And some laws go further, stating any interstate material used in the production of the work.

      Thing is, even if his specific case was overturned, it doesn’t overturn obscenity laws in general since the legal definition requires specifically relying on the subjective values of the eye-of-the-beholder. It’s possible for two cases to have two different results for the exact same work. It’s the only serious jail-time, felony offense law that I know of like that, relying solely on subjective values of 12 people. Even if the judge happens to throw out a case, prosecutors can still easily shop around.

    3. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Obscenity

      In fact, federal obscenity law in the U.S. is highly unusual in that not only is there no uniform national standard, but rather, there is an explicit legal precedent (the “Miller test”, below) that all but guarantees that something that is legally obscene in one jurisdiction may not be in another. In effect, the First Amendment protections of free speech vary by location within the U.S., and over time.

      Technically speaking, just about all porn–or more importantly, what people perceive as prurient–can be judged obscene. It is easy enough to find jurors who are offended, which is one of the criteria. And very likely, if they are offended, they most likely won’t view the work as “art”.

      Federal laws have allowed many prosecutors in other districts to go after other states, like CA, where it’s explicitly legal (like in this case too).

      In June 2006, the U.S. Federal government in the district of Arizona brought a case against JM Productions of Chatsworth, California in order to classify commercial pornography that specifically shows actual semen being ejaculated as obscene.

    4. USC 1461, used against Naked Lunch, is still on the books:

      Every obscene, lewd, lascivious, indecent, filthy or vile article, matter, thing, device, or substance; and

      Every article or thing designed, adapted, or intended for producing abortion, or for any indecent or immoral use; and

      Every article, instrument, substance, drug, medicine, or thing which is advertised or described in a manner calculated to lead another to use or apply it for producing abortion, or for any indecent or immoral purpose; and

      [.. it gets ridiculous ..]

      Every description calculated to induce or incite a person to so use or apply any such article, instrument, substance, drug, medicine, or thing–

      Is declared to be nonmailable matter and shall not be conveyed in the mails or delivered from any post office or by any letter carrier.

      The article didn’t say, but it sounds like what might be used here, since the conditions and punishment matches (5 years for each count first time offense, 10 yrs, subsequent offense)

    1. If I have learned anything from my participation on H&R through these many years, it’s not to click on links with a lead-in like that.

      1. I didn’t click on it either:)

    2. Nooooooooo sirree

    3. I will congratulate myself, then.

      It’s some other guy named Ira Isaacs who has pictures of his fishing trip in Florida. Completely benign Boomer photo album.

  15. So much for Freedom of Expression. I am really ashamed to even admit that I am American!


    1. Holy shit anon bot was straight up prescient!

  16. If adults want to poop on each other on film and other adults want to watch it, then I don’t care.

    Isaacs should have been charged for animal abuse and the allegations of drugging actresses to get them to perform. Those seem a lot more serious than what people do with feces.

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