After putting controversial filmmaker and artist Ira Isaacs on trial for the third time since 2008, the U.S. federal government finally was able to get a conviction on obscenity charges. The government was finally able to get a conviction this time around by ensuring that no one was seated on the jury had any connection to filmmaking, and by putting Isaacs on trial over and over until he could no longer afford the high priced witnesses for his defense who were art critics. The trial also pointed out another absurdity of the American legal system of questionable constitutionality according to AVN as well, in that “Usually, when a trial takes place, it’s been established that a crime has been committed, and the only question is whether the defendant(s) committed that crime. In an obscenity trial a person is arrested or indicted, and the question for the jury is whether any crime was committed”.
Another absurdity of obscenity charges is that a person’s life is put on trial for charges that are subjective and subject to change over time. In the 1970’s for example, many dealers, filmmakers and sometimes actors in pornographic films were arrested and sometimes convicted of obscenity for merely depicting consensual sexual intercourse among heterosexual adults, today sexual intercourse depictions are considered to be constitutionally protected speech in most parts of the United States, while some art films such as THE BROWN BUNNY has a graphic oral sex depiction for example.
Another problem is that no court has ever proved that obscenity has ever harmed anyone, yet when governments across the United States found that they couldn’t deter sexually explicit materials with $50 fines, or city violation tickets, then obscenity laws got jacked up to misdemeanor crimes, then felony crimes, and finally due to the late Senator from North Carolina, Jesse Helms, federal racketeering offenses with 20 year prison sentences. Isaacs now faces up to 20 years in prison thanks to this escalation of laws against claimed obscene works.
At one time, racketeering meant committing a serious crime such as murder for hire, kidnapping or running a major illegal drug operation. Nowadays, it has been applied to some work that is merely considered to be obscene by a single jury or even some denturist who overcharges for false teeth as part of a business. Government has so overused racketeering laws that were once meant to put teeth in laws to prevent organized crime activity, that now racketeering laws can be applied to almost any legal misstep of some business that twice does something wrong as a business practice. Doing something wrong twice means that a business committed a “predicate” offense, while doing something wrong once might have only been considered to be a misdemeanor and not even a felony, let alone a racketeering offense in many cases.
The ongoing trial of Ira Isaacs was a relic of a political payback to the religious right, where the Bush Administration was seeking a few prosecutions of obscenity to satisfy their religious right supporters. Another adult filmmaker, Max Hardcore, was prosecuted in Florida in the same wave of the Bush Administration using public money to promote religious law, although separation of church and state is supposed to make such use of public law to endorse religion unconstitutional.
And another question is whether government is in any moral position to be endorsing religious or moral law for the nation. How many government officials have been involved in sex scandals or corruption themselves? The latest Secret Service scandal is a good example. Obscenity simply says that someone acted either offensively. It’s a purely subjective crime. Other crimes have to be based off more material standards such as a real victim. Obscenity is a victimless crime, yet has been elevated to very serious racketeering levels.
The first trial of Ira Isaacs ended in mistrial in 2008 after the judge in the case had to remove himself because he himself posted sexually oriented material to a website. The second trial of Isaacs ended in a mistrial only a couple of months ago, when the widow of a former horror filmmaker, recognized that the movies Isaacs produced showed some level of artistry and involved some camera and film tricks. One film that the government misrepresented to the jury as involving defection, actually was a Hollywood film trick, using a food substitute and camera cuts. And another film also used some camera trickery as well. If the government want to be a film critic, then it should go into the movie business, otherwise butt out.
The films of Ira Isaacs didn’t have the support of the mainstream adult film industry. His films involved bizarre fetish practices, probably legal in Europe, but taboo here. Certainly his films were offensive. But, should being offensive be elevated to a crime? And serious crimes at that.
Government has now proved that it can get whatever trial outcome it wants by putting some defendant on trial over and over until he can’t afford a strong defense and to pay expert witnesses. Government has unlimited to tax dollars to that, while a defendant has much more finite means by comparison. In other trials, government has also proved the ability to get whatever outcome it wants by limiting what a defendant is allowed to present in their defense. For example, many medical marijuana clubs have been closed down by the federal government because the defendant isn’t allowed to present in their defense that what they were doing was legal under local law where voters approved local laws allowing such clubs for medical purposes. They were merely presented to a jury as drug dealers.
Isaacs now awaits sentencing in August. And the public can now rest assured that several offensive movies have been removed from the public marketplace at the cost to the taxpayers of maybe several million tax dollars. Your tax dollars at work. This is what you work hard to pay for.
Is the world now a safer and better place after all of this nonsense. Hardly.