In a bit of a surprise, Judge Richard Leon has dismissed the government’s case against John Stagliano. Apparently, under cross-examination, the prosecution’s star witness, FBI Agent Daniel Bradley, claimed he had been instructed by the Judge to review the “offending” material, Milk Nymphos and Storm Squirters 2: Target Practice, before trial. This caused the Judge to clear the courtroom whereupon he then denied giving any instruction to the FBI agent. The prosecutor also denied relaying any such instruction from the judge to her witness. This,in effect, meant that the FBI agent was guilty of false testimony. With no evidence(it was thrown out the previous day because the prosecution botched the video transcoding) and a tainted star witness, there was no case. When the prosecution rested, the defense moved to dismiss and the judge concurred, in the process scolding the government for “woefully inadequate” preparation. Because the ruling to dismiss preceded the defense’s case and jury deliberations, double jeopardy applies, so it can’t be retried. The case is over.
This was supposed to be the case that would challenge the Miller Test, i.e., “community standards,” in the 21st century internet age. The ultimate outcome would have had serious implications for the 1st Amendment. However, because of prosecutorial incompetence, the “obscenity trial of the century” awaits another day. The simple fact is that the Bush War on Pornography, carried out by the Obscenity Prosecution Task Force, is government intimidation. The cases, like most federal cases, get plea bargained. When someone actually challenged the government, called their bluff, the government folded like a cheap tent. These things aren’t meant to be brought to a jury trial, as the laughable preparation of the prosecution indicates quite clearly.
It is unknown whether the Obama is going to prosecute “the War on Pornography” with the same vigor as Bush(the Stagliano case originates from the Bush Admin). But the Justice Department Task force remains nonetheless. In the event that Obama puts a low priority on prosecuting pornography, the Task Force will quietly bide it’s time waiting for the next Republican president.
As a side note, Wendy McElroy writes a scathing rebuke of the libertarian community regarding it’s lack of coverage of the Stagliano case. McElroy apparently knows Stagliano–who is well known as being a libertarian– personally, and given that this case had the potential to have a major impact on the 1st Amendment(in many ways, Free speech is about the only libertarian freedom in America), she rants about the media blackout, with a couple of exceptions, in the libertarian sphere. She blames it on a movement that has become gripped by “social conservatism.” So gripped that major libertarian publications that she typically writes for turned down her requests to cover the case, even when she offered her services for free, because the publications were afraid of offending readers.
I’m in agreement with McElroy. To me, libertarianism is infested with elements of social conservatism. I should point out that many of the leading figures of the radical libertarian movement probably do not view “Buttman” as a hero, either. On one side, there is an undue paleo, culturally conservative influence that views “libertinism” as an obstacle to building a cadre political movement of “anti-Federal Reserve” crusaders. On the left side, the left libertarians, some of the more prominent writers, in their quest for fusionism with certain elements of feminism, take positions that are not particularly sympathetic to pornography.
Stossel was one of the few “libertarian” outlets, along with Reason, that promoted his case. I think it’s a sad that fucking Fox had his back, while the radical libertarians were AWOL.