Buttman’s 1st Amendment Trial

People often ask me what was prison like? I tell them, you’ll find out, you’ll find out…
Tommy Chong

In 2005, the Bush Administration created the Obscenity Prosecution Task Force in the Justice Department. According to their website, the mission of this task force is “is dedicated exclusively to the protection of America’s children and families through the enforcement of our Nation’s obscenity laws.” And so they went to work, criminally prosecuting, at first, small fish in the more esoteric areas of mainstream porn. The small fish all plea bargained. Then the task force went after “Buttman,” aka John Stagliano. But Buttman is a libertarian who contributes big bucks to libertarian organizations, and he wasn’t too pleased to find out, out of the blue, that he was being indicted via a Justice Department Press Release. So Buttman declined to plea bargain, instead opting to have his case decided by a jury in federal court. He faces 32 years if convicted on all the various counts.

In early 2009, Bush was gone, Obama was in. The Obama Admin, of course, retained the Task force and took the reigns of the prosecution of Buttman. So Buttman now finds himself in federal court in DC with the start of his criminal trial this past Tuesday. In the opening statements, prosecutor Bonnie Hannan declared this trial was about crossing the lines and accused Buttman of peddling his wares to underage teens. Unfortunately, for the prosecution, part of the evidence gathered, in the 3 year preparation leading up to the case, appears to have been corrupted because a FBI agent apparently had one too many drinks while attempting to transcribe a key piece of offending video in a DC Bar.

The Judge in this case has instructed the jury to apply the “Miller Test,” from 1973’s Miller vs California(aka, the community standards test). Buttman has emphatically indicated that he loses, he will appeal his case to the Supreme Court on the basis of challenging the Miller Test. In this sense, the trial of Buttman is potentially shaping up to have far reaching 1st Amendment implications in the internet age. But you wouldn’t know this by perusing the mainstream media. They are too busy begging for subsidies and becoming wholly owned subsidiaries of WashCorp. The slack in the provision of the “public good” of the news of this trial is being taken up by an Adult Video News site who has sent out ” adult performers” to moonlight as journalists.

If this case does end up in the Supreme Court, I would feel better about the composition of the court before Obama. Sotomayor/Kagan for Stevens/Souter is bad trade. Kagan, as Solicitor General, argued the State had the right to act, by virtue of operating a prison system, as a legal detention regime in the case of “sex offenders.” She has indicated that ‘book burning” is a legitimate function of government, although adding tongue-in-cheek that it would never be really enforced. Well, if Buttman’s case ends up on the Supreme Court docket, consider it to be under a state of enforcement.

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