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Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Required Reading: Slate on Laws We’re Allowed to Break

posted by on October 17 at 13:50 PM

In the Unites States, using a computer to download obscenity is a crime, punishable by up to five years in prison. Federal law makes it a crime to use “a computer service” to transport over state lines “any obscene, lewd, lascivious, or filthy book, pamphlet, picture, motion-picture film, paper, letter, writing, print, or other matter of indecent character.”

Under the plain reading of the statute, most men in the United States may be felons.

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This criminalizes obscenity, not pornography. What's obscene is always pornographic. What's porn is not necessarily obscene. Obscenity, whether or not on the internet, is prohibited most everywhere in the U.S. Because the Supreme Court has interpreted, consistent with its application of the First Amendment, obscenity quite narrowly (to include "no redeeming social value"), it's next to impossible to prove. So we're not really guilty of the crime.

Posted by Algernon | October 17, 2007 2:35 PM

Ugh. It would be nice if that Slate author would bother to know what in the fuck he's talking about before sitting down to write his next installment.

Posted by Bison | October 17, 2007 3:18 PM

Would you like some flowers #1?

Posted by muckfetro | October 17, 2007 3:39 PM

That picture of the German Shepherd I accidentally saw in Google Images had no redeeming social value. Come take me away.

Posted by Fnarf | October 17, 2007 4:27 PM

Clearly, Slog readers outside of Washington state are felons.

Posted by Mahtli69 | October 17, 2007 8:33 PM

Not enforcing laws??
This government has just taken different tactics. They're trying to scare away all websites with 2257, and pushing agendas by picking communites with different obscenity laws

I'm going to have to agree with Algernon on this one

Posted by Wildeman2 | October 18, 2007 4:25 PM

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