Tuesday, June 17, 2008

The Conviction of Max Hardcore: Repercussions For The Rest of Adult??

As everyone now knows, Max Hardcore (nee' Paul Little) was convicted of all charges stemming from his obscenity trial early last week in Florida; though the circumstances of his conviction have been controversial from the very beginning to the bitter end.

Though some would state the fact that the nature of MH's particular....ummmm, style of content regarding his view of women made him an easy target for the Justice Department porn censors; it is still unknown what ramifications his conviction (and the subsequent appeals) will have for the broad diaspora of the adult sex industry. As Ren Ev commented on in one of her latest appearances on Blog Talk Radio's XXBN show hosted by Jill Brenneman (yes, that was a program plug for our blog hostess); the fact that the conviction occured in South Florida where there happens to be a growing subculture of porn (albeit mostly of the tamer kind) would seem to be more surprising than a conviction in, say, Utah.

Nevertheless, the successful conviction of Max Hardcore may egg those elements of the Justice Department's "Adult Obscenity" division to push the envelope in other cases against porn producers, including the current case against John Stagliano and Evil Angel Productions now ongoing. It may be their one last attempt to do their damage before an Obama Administration and a Democratic Congress totally shuts their syndicate down. (Presuming, of course, that a McCain administration would continue the same policies.)

I have a few words on this..but first, I'd rather hear from the experts...as in, you the reader. What's your take on the conviction, the appeals; the repercussions for the rest of the industry??


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  2. I hope that the Obama administration wouldn't jump on the anti-porn bandwagon in order to be "tough on" something. Anyone know if there's a chance of that or if the legal arm of the anti-porn crusade might die out (at least temporarily) when the corrupt Bush administration people are gone?

  3. Catseye... I'd be hopeful that an Obama presidency would be more willing to re-center the Justice Department's focus away from "obscenity enforcement" and back towards more important and conventional emphasis like child pornography, civil rights, and organized crime....emphases that have been basically squandered by the obsessions of the DoJ porn censors and their commisars.

    Problem is, the way that Obama's been tacking so far to the Right of late in order to secure those "swing voters" and fend off those "Most LIBERAL man in history!!!!" memes from the Republicans; you never can tell if he just might be suspectible to antiporn feminist rhetoric as a counter to the Christian Right. Hopefully, it's just a tactical move to cover his flanks.

    As for the Republican Sex Nazis: well, they will probably be casted out of power when Bush finally leaves, but given the core support they have from the populist Right, they will probably never go completely away; they will probably, like the rest of the Right, rebuild and reload for the next round of blowback elections in 2012 and 2016.


  4. My guess: After the election, regardless of who wins, prosecutions for adult obscenity will wither. There is little enthusiasm for such proceedings on the part of career civil servants in the criminal justice system, as they cost a fortune ($5m average) to propel all the way through the appeals process and the results are never predictable for either side.

    Since neither of the major party candidates counts on significant support from the religious right in the current contest, and won't get it to any important degree, the influence of James Dobson and Beverly LaHaye is likely to decline.

    All of which means that new cases probably won't be filed at the federal level except where children are involved and existing cases will probably be dismissed or negotiated down to nothing much. I suspect Stagliano's will be an outright dismissal, and even though Rob Black has been convicted in one jurisdiction and then gotten a reversal at the next level, it would be pretty easy for the DOJ to simply withdraw its motion to reinstate the original conviction, declare victory and go home.

    Max is another matter. He is newly convicted and hasn't even begun the appeals trek. His material is greatly offensive to large numbers of people, including many who are generally supportive toward freedom of expression, and it would be easy enough to let him spend himself into bankruptcy fighting his initial verdict before finally letting him off on some technicality, thereby conveying an image of being tough on porn based on a single case initiated by a prior administration.

    The real threat now comes from the left, if you consider radfem anti-porn fanatics leftist, as evidently many self-described leftists still do. Despite their claims to the contrary, they do actively collaborate with right-wing and theocratic porn bashers, ranging from the Bush administration (which funded Melissa Farley's "research" on legal prostitution in Nevada), to the links on radfem sites to Shelley Lubben's homepage, where help is offered not only to "prostituted women" willing to embrace Jesus, but also "post-abortion counseling" for women whose exercise of their right to reproductive choice has left them shattered and in need of divine reconstruction.

    There is every reason to believe that this bunch will have considerable influence over the next administration, whoever ends up nominally in charge, and their sudden flurry of highly visible activism, such as Gail Dines' newly-launched Stop Porn Culture organization and the illegal distribution of the infamous Wheelock slide show via the Internet, suggests that they know this and are planning to make the most of it.

    So, re Max, I think his trial and conviction are a mockery and I don't even feel the need that many seem to to deny any personal liking for his work to make this assertion. As it happens, I'm not a fan, though Nina and I invariably find Max to be a perfectly cordial individual in all our encounters with him and know several women in the industry who have dated him outside of work and haven't anything bad to say about him. But my feelings or opinions about Max and his material have no more to do with the rightfulness of his prosecution than would those of someone who loved or hated his work.

    It is clearly constitutionally protected speech and the only way to suppress it is by undermining the existing body of law as it applies to an entire nation in order to silence one single person who makes videos some other people don't like.

    There is no place that road ever leads other than to tyranny. There is no such thing as a "little" censorship any more than there is such a thing as "a minor case of cancer" or "a slight pregnancy."

    When P.T., whose artistic abilities I respect, who I have known for years and worked with on occasion, says he thinks Max had it coming and he's glad the jury agreed (very narrowly, as we now know), he's helping to dig his own grave and mine.

    That Max is a polarizing figure both inside and outside the porn industry is irrelevant to what rights he enjoys as a citizen and as an artist. Indeed, the strong emotions Max's pictures inspire, like those engendered by Black's work, tend to make these creations more defensible under the Miller test rather than less. Clearly, he's out to stir people up as well as turn on those who like his vision of sexuality, and that might very well constitute an artistic motivation of the sort Miller clearly protects.

    Bad taste is not a crime, and that's a good thing for everybody. We already lock up more people than any nation on earth. If we started jailing people for making ugly media images, we'd need to build a vast facility just to house those responsible for network television programming alone.

    This case, like all other adult obscenity prosecutions, is not about the content. It's about making an example of someone to satisfy a particular constituency at the expense of constitutional government of all of who wish to preserve it. As such, it must be fought with all available resources regardless of what anyone thinks of the material in question.

  5. Yeah, there'll be repercussions in the adult industry for sure with the conviction of MH. Will they last though, or will, as seen before, they evolve and change to fit the climate?

    As someone above has said, MH will appeal, it'll get dragged out, MH will lose a fortune to lawyers and it'll get settled. But merely by doing that to him, it'll make every other producer watch what they're doing. And maybe make some err on the side of caution.

    The next couple of years could prove to be very weird indeed... depending on who gets into the White House.