For reasons I never quite figured out, I ended up on the Morality in Media email list. Today they sent me a smug, seemingly self-written and self-quoted press release by Dawn Hawkins, their head busy-body. The good news, since potential anti-smut crusader Mitt Romney lost the presidency and all? Well, a 61-year-old pornographer named Ira Isaacs was just sentenced to 48 months in prison, plus three years of “supervised release” and a $10,000 fine. Why? Well, prosecutors know obscenity when they see it. And they must know art when they see it, too. In spite of Isaacs’ pleas that he was making “shock art,” in this third attempt since 2008 to pin charges on him, they finally stuck Isaacs with five federal charges in April.

According to :

In motions prior to sentencing, U.S. prosecutors had attempted to sway the court to enhance Isaacs’ sentencing two levels to seven years and three months by using the theory that “vulnerable victims” were exploited in the commission of federal offenses.

But prosecutors backed off on that plan after [prosecutor Damon] King said in his “tentative view” that the vulnerable victim sentencing adjustment does not apply in the case.

King said that if scat actors consented to performing in the films, then as consenting adults who helped produce obscene materials, they are better characterized as co-participants in the offenses than as victims. The performers at center of the scrapped testimony include Veronica Jett and another former adult performer named April.

The pair of actresses told federal prosecutors that they never would have taken part in several scat films if they had not been high after allegedly being fed drugs by Isaacs at the time of the shoots. Jett attended Wednesday’s sentencing hearing.[…]

The LAPD officer ordered and received through the U.S. mail four videos — “Euro Scat Girls,” “‘My Pony Lover,” “Violet: Dog and Pig Fuckers” and “Hot Girl With Dogs” — that weren’t part of the Isaacs obscenity trial.

King said that because of Isaacs’ post-conviction behavior, he said it was pertinent to sentencing. Diamond, however, asked the court to grant Isaacs full probation.

“I have viewed the videos for this sentencing hearing, and I find them just as obscene as those used in Mr. Isaacs’ conviction,” King said. “He has not accepted his responsibility to the community.”

King further said that he didn’t buy Isaacs’ contention that his operation was based on the vision of art.

“I have totally rejected during the course of the trial that he’s a shock artist,” King said. “He has cloaked himself as a First Amendment defendant. But the fact is that he did it for money. He’s not a defender of the First Amendment. He cheapens the First Amendment.”

Isaacs may be an unrepentant sleaze — he may be less of a charmingly unrepentant sleaze-peddler than good old John Stagliano, who escaped the DOJ’s reach in 2010 — but it’s deeply disturbing that obscenity exist as a category of speech. It’s also troubling and telling that the Department of Justice has continued these pursuits even post-John “cover the boobs of Justice” Ashcroft. Attorney General Eric Holder is not just a lying weasel about guns, drones,  and drugs, he also lets his goons follow their awfully conservative-sounding agenda of hunting down and punishing peddlers of consensual smut.

[Edit: my friend Julia points out that Holder DID at least disband the Obscenity Prosecution Task Force and has been criticized by social cons for not doing “enough” about porn. So he’s not quite as heinous as Ashcroft in this particular area.] 

It’s also really awesome that the LAPD seemingly has nothing better to do with their time than order gross videos from a willing seller, then attempt to bring him to “justice.”

Please note the vague detail that these women claim they wouldn’t have done these films if they hadn’t been “fed drugs.” Might Isaacs be a creep, someone who pressures desperate women? Sure.  Should we shun him at the next libertarian cocktail party? Perhaps.  Are we saying the women didn’t  voluntarily take these non-specific drugs, then voluntarily engage in bestiality?  It’s insanely condescending towards adult females to act like they need to be protected from what is (somewhat arguably) a very bad career and life decision.

And as to the familiar libertarian thought exercise, should bestiality be illegal, well —  there are, logically, ways of engaging in it that are cruel to animals, and ways that are…not so cruel. If women and dogs are the participants, it’s probably moreso the latter. Gross, but so is prison rape. So is prison, period.

The Porn Harms press release notes ends, deeply  satisfied:

“Morality in Media will not rest until the federal laws designed to protect women and children from the porn criminals are fully enforced.”

They may not need the help of a nervous Mormon. Obama’s people are doing just fine.

Isaacs’ attorney says they plan to take their appeal all the way to the 9th Circuit, if possible. Reason’s Jacob Sullum has covered the Ira Isaacs case. Sullum also noted that Isaacs initially faced 25 years in prison. If that’s not obscenity, there’s definitely no such thing.

  • Azulia Zebleaux

    You neglect to mention that this was a continuing case leftover from the Bush administration DOJ. Now, whether Obama’s DOJ should continued the prosecution or drop charges is a different argument, but Holder officially disbanded the pornography taskforce in question. So apparently, yes, that DOJ does think there are better things to do with their time.

    I think you’re misrepresenting the DOJ by equivocating them to Romney’s promise to prosecute mainstream pornography. Regardless of the Libertarian standard on the issues, scat and bestiality are offensive to much of the populace and considered not only disgusting, but a health risk and animal abuse. If Isaacs fed these women drugs to get them to commit these acts, consent is also out the window; and isn’t it a little condescending of you to assume these women were lying, just because there were too few “sketchy details” to try this admitted sleazeball on the issue? Although the scat was reportedly staged, the bestiality wasn’t … and suggesting the dog seems into it so it’s not abuse is honestly a pretty self-serving viewpoint. No matter how “into it” a dog seems, he can’t give consent. I understand the concern about a “slippery slope” when bestiality porn is prosecuted, but you’re suggesting the beginnings of a slope yourself–as long as there’s a sign of arousal and no physical harm, it’s okay, it’s “not so cruel.” That can just as easily be extrapolated by a bad person to rape coma victims. Obviously I know that’s not what you meant, or any Libertarians but I can’t see any good coming from endorsing any sort of sexual act that doesn’t involve consent.

    • Lucy Steigerwald

      You’re right that the taskforce was dropped, will add a mention. Nevertheless, the DOJ continued to pursue the charges and that’s weak-ass.

      I really, really don’t give a shit what’s offensive to the majority of the population. And a voluntary health risk that is not going to spread (ew) to anyone else should also be a choice. And there’s a bit of a libertarian in-joke about debating the legality of bestiality. The awkwardness I should have out and out said was that if it’s a guy penetrating an animal, the abuse argument is a LOT more legitimate in my book.

      “Fed drugs” — were they drugged? Or did they voluntarily take drugs? And what kind of drug makes someone suddenly willing to do this kind of thing? It’s weak, because the DOJ’s pursuit of the case makes these women a lot more likely to want to plead that they didn’t choose it, so as to not be accessories.

    • npcomplete

      First, I agree with Lucy that other people’s reaction, no matter how offended or disgusted they feel, should never be basis for criminalizing something. Second, a dog can’t give consent to being a pet, or used as a tool either; nor can any other animal give consent to being caged and slaughtered for food. So making claims about a dog’s ability to “consent” is ridiculous, unless you propose we all become vegans and criminalize pet ownership as well. Third, women in porn know what they’re getting into. They signed the contract. If they want to quit, they can do so and pay a fine for backing out. Drugs are usually part of the scene, voluntarily taken, and if anyone is saying they were “forced” to take drugs, rather than being given drugs, then they’re lying.

      Finally, the disbandment of that taskforce has had little to no effect. While they may not give priority in proactively finding cases, they *still* pursue all offenders whenever it is brought to their attention. There have been 3 other obscenity prosecutions I am aware of by Obama’s DOJ that do not involve any actors or people or animals whatsoever, under USC 18 1466A.

  • Kizone Kaprow

    Libertarians divorce ethics from politics all the time. Nothing new in libertarians’ prevalent, persistent amorality. But censorship is censorship, regardless of the quality of speech. Too bad so many libertarians cannot stick to principles of free speech instead of reveling in mindless smut *because* most people find it offensive.

    • Lucy

      Who exactly is reveling in mindless smut? Examples?

  • Puertento Ketarle

    I my self and so many of my friends online or real life are/am into bdsm and fetishes some weird some more popular. its like being gay or loving verbal intercourse,,u dint choose it,,it just feels right,its the way you have known ur self from the beggining,,we ourselves have experienced same struglles of shame and dispare before finally accepting these weird but naturally harmless feelings we were born with. ,,its against human rights against the freedom of expression,,against discrimination rules of crushing minorities ,,there are thousands of people maybe millions with this fetish and even worse,,oh yes you havent seen worse!!but i m sure that at least one percent of fetishists are into scat,,there are hundreds of scat communities with thousands of members,,but the reason we all are shy and not spoken is just we know no one would respect how we feel. Its very unfair to let some one decide a fate of a man who doesnt understand why he feels the way he does,,
    ,,why do u think the videos are sold,,, they are sold because many like them,,its different from some pervert liking to buy animal cruelty vids,,or child abuse films,,its enjoying to watch a film that unlike all boring main adult. Film making industry ist brutal like max hardcore chiking young girls who looked frightened,,,nor is hazadrdous. ,im pointing the the jour ! who said u should watch those vids,,,they always say its explicid. Before every video so that those who really like them will watch,,you shouldnt have sneeked into a hole that wasnt gonna be pleasant for you and they told you that at the beggingg of the film . U just care about what you feel and prefere other feelings to be neglected ,.i bet u would sentence him to death if it wasnt for certain legal history makings,,,you definately disrespected our human rights,,,our interests,, there is no worse answer to one mans natural needs ,than jailing him for expressing it in a natiral way .
    Just because you do not understand the reason why some people like scat,,same as some other like feet,and so,,wouldnt give you the right or reason to condemn him to prison…we call our nation the most supportive to communities especially those In minority who are just expressing their feelings and definately wint want you to accidentally see their desires to get upset or whatever,,,but when you purposefully get your nose into some ones a@@ youre gonna smell bad things,,so plz do not look at vids you dont like!!and stop blaiming others.

    Scat and bdsm community are people from all walks of life, even many politicians share the same views many doctors writers, respectful people
    Coprophilia is a sexual desire coming from masochistic characters mostly,,as ling as it doesnt hurt any one or against any ones consent should be left to tendt to its audience,,
    scat is mostly the rarest fetish which only makes it a great target for dogmatic conservatives,
    But this rare fetish is so intensly rooted deep within its community ,that no one could subside it not by Mind controling laws nor by bullies in the public who only respect what their father respected!
    Let us be free in the way we think and feel good.
    Dont lay the responsbility of watching scat films on the producer,,you shouldnt have watched it if u didnt likes it,,,

    I dont like and am disgusted by surgery on a swollen abcess ,,and i wont watch it,,but if i did,,and so many others got disgusted,,would u put the surgeon in trial??or just better not watch the damn procedure???

    Im full of shame how the usa community was silence through this bdsm community didnt back him in any effective manner…he was producing movies that so many people would really like but are were shy to express it,
    He must be released .if we believe in freedom ..the recpecting minority rights and habits ,,even if we dont understand or relate to it,,even we are disgusted by it…,as long as no one was hurt,,nor did anything against their will,,