How much is too much? Regulation of obscene and other erotic material.

In 2006, Americans spent nearly $13 billion on sexually explicit adult entertainment, including $2.8 billion on Internet content and $1.7 billion on cable and pay-per-view TV content, according to the Adult Video News trade publication.
Despite its popularity-there were, for example, more than 45 million unique US visitors to adult Internet sites in the month of October 2006 alone- sexually explicit content remains a highly controversial target of government prosecution.
In May 2007, for instance, the federal government indicted adult content producer Paul Little, better known as Max Hardcore, for distributing allegedly obscene content via both the Internet and U.S mail.


Picture of Paul Little, a.k.a. Max Hardcore.
Source: Twitter Account.**
**Warning, explicit material on Twitter account. DO NOT ENTER unless you really want to know what he is about. The author is not responsible for any of the content on twitter account.

Max was released on July 2011 and has been active in the porn industry since Early 2012. Max Hardcore is one of the best and worst cases of free expression rights. On one hand, you have a guy who is willing to do the most “hardcore” stuff you can imagine when it comes to sexual acts, he does very weird stuff and dresses her models and makes them wear make up in order for them to look younger, like a teenager; his movies often include urination, vomiting and exhibitionism, his behavior and material is considered offensive by many feminist activists and many religious organizations and just people in general. Even more common people could find Max as an offensive and vulgar person and indeed may think he is worthy of censorship. On the other hand however, Max isn’t doing anything “illegal”, the Federal Government had to try 3 times before putting him in jail and even then, they barely succeeded and were unable to shut down his web site or remove any of his old material. All of the people involved in his movies are adults, agree with the motives and intentions of his movies and in a way they aren’t doing anything illegal.

The illegal part is very important; something to remember when speaking about justice is that many times, “wrong” doesn’t mean “illegal”. If the government convicted Max for using vomiting images in his videos that would mean that vomiting is illegal or anyone who films vomiting is doing an illegal act; this would mean that any doctor, patient or film director could be held accountable for doing illegal acts, in this example, “found guilty for vomiting”.

Although many of us think that this kind of behavior and material is indeed obscene and should be censored, it is important to understand the limits of expression, how far can you go and what can be done with it. Perhaps the case of Max Hardcore can help us understand what not to do with our free expression.

It is a difficult scenario for both people and government. There is no denying the popularity of pornographic and erotic material.

Source: Porn Stats

Source: Porn Stats

So what can be done? Perhaps not much. A lot of the efforts of obscenity prosecutors are aimed towards child pornography, which is a lot easier to prosecute and is indeed illegal and wrong in almost every part of the globe. Something else that needs to be addressed: Some people might find some of the material, like the movies of Max Hardcore, too extreme and vulgar and repulsive; some people might not see anything wrong with it and perhaps even enjoy it. The difficulty lies in having reasonable and applicable standards. For example, if nudity on films and pictures is illegals, that means all of nudity pictures and films are illegal. If sex filming is illegal, that makes any couple who has sex and has a sex video guilty and probably could end up in jail.  Even if the Adult Material somehow managed to be illegal, that necessarily would have to make all people involved in the case illegal, that would mean that producers, actors, distributors and even viewers could go to jail; in an hypothetical case, if a person just happens to click a misleading link or to see a pop up picture of a naked woman, that would make him a criminal. Now that is harder than Max Hardcore, and speaking of which, perhaps he wasn’t at all wrong when he talked about the first prosecution against him:
“it is (the prosecution) a frivolous waste of public resources” (Kernes, Mark; Rutter, Jared (May 18, 2004)

Unfortunately for Max, he isn’t the hardest out there, there still needs to be something harder or worse to fully test the limits of Free Speech. Until then, all we can do is wonder and watch, or not to watch, depending on your preferences.

~ by lukavi on May 1, 2013.

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