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  January 15, 2001
Donna Rice and Pornography

Donna Rice, "Christian," crusades against "illegal pornography"! Now that Donna Rice's fifteen minutes of fame have run out for orally servicing Gary Hart aboard his yacht, she has apparently decided to jump on the "infantilize the Internet so parents don't have to be parents" bandwagon. She is now a director at a non-profit organization ironically entitled "Enough is Enough!" In its own words, this organization is dedicated to "stopping illegal pornography, assisting victims, and making the Internet safe for children."

Let's think about this. Under current U.S. First Amendment law, the only pornography which qualifies as "illegal" is that which either qualifies as obscene, or as child pornography. Since Donna used the phrase "illegal pornography," we can safely assume she's not focusing exclusively on child pornography. So let's examine what she is up against in prosecuting obscenity.

According to the United States Supreme Court, a work is obscene if:

(1) The average person, applying contemporary community standards would find that the work, taken as a whole, appeals to the prurient interest, (2) the work depicts or describes, in a patently offensive way, sexual conduct specifically defined by the applicable state law, and (3) the work, taken as a whole, lacks serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value.

Hmmm... pretty vague. But I'm sure Donna has some great theories on how to proceed. Right?

"Within a few weeks of joining the staff of Enough Is Enough, I began to track a pornographer who was operating a very lucrative bulletin board service. The pornography he was marketing was prosecutable as obscenity." -- Interview with Donna, Salon Magazine

How did Donna know this particular material was obscene?

"It was material that an adult wouldn't be able to find in an X-rated bookstore."

Donna Rice, conservative Christian republican. She has the distinction of having the nicest pair of tits ever to testify to the House Judiciary Committee about! Simply magnificent.

I hate to break the news to Donna, but this doesn't come close to qualifying as a workable obscenity test. For the one thing, an adult bookstore serves a specific community -- the city or county in which it resides. When the Supreme Court wrote their definition, vague as it is, they at least understood that different "communities" would have different "contemporary ... standards."

The million dollar question is, what is the "community" when a website is involved, especially since it can be viewed by anyone in the world? Has she even thought about this? (More importantly, does she even understand how the Internet works at all?)

Anyone who thinks that a silly question should remember the Communications Decency Act debacle, in which most of our Representatives and Senators lined up to willingly demonstrate their ignorance of the Internet to the world at large.

So good luck Donna, you're going to need it. And when this crusade fizzles out, and online pornographers are still making money hand over fist, maybe this time you can try blowing the actual president. Look where it got Monica Lewinsky!

( Posted by Corsican )

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