Vice Squad
Monday, February 16, 2004
Obscenity Updates

On February 6 Vice Squad passed along the news that the US Department of Justice had hired a well-known anti-porn activist and former prosecutor, presumably to save our nation from the perils of pornography. The Justice Department itself did not publicize the hiring -- we found the news from the website of an anti-porn organization -- but the word is beginning to leak out. On February 13, the Houston Chronicle (via the LA Times) covered the story; here's a brief excerpt: "The department [of Justice] has made other moves recently to shore up its anti-porn effort, including assigning for the first time in years a team of FBI agents to focus exclusively on adult obscenity cases.

In his fiscal 2005 budget proposal released this month, President Bush sought increased spending to fight obscenity; it was one of the few spending increases in the otherwise austere proposal." Good to know we have our priorities straight.

Primo research assistant Ryan Monarch provides an update on the new Michigan state law on obscenity that he brought to our attention in mid-January. The law requires bookstores to place magazines and books that are "harmful to minors" out of the sight of children; such materials have to be covered up or placed in restricted areas of bookstores. Booksellers brought a federal lawsuit challenging the law's constitutionality. Now, Michigan prosecutors have elected not to enforce the law until the case is decided. According to the linked article from the Detroit News, "The lawsuit suggests that well-known works including 'The Catcher in the Rye,' 'Portnoy’s Complaint,' 'Of Mice and Men,' 'Lolita' and 'The Joy of Sex' 'are just the sort of books that are vulnerable to attack.' Some magazines, such as Maxim or Vogue, might also be required to be placed in an adult-only area, under the law. "

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