Vice Squad
Friday, September 28, 2007
 
Trying to Imprison a Dissident Writer


A story in the New York Times today begins thusly: "Sometime early next year, Karen Fletcher, a 56-year-old recluse living on disability payments, will go on trial in federal court here [Pittsburgh] on obscenity charges for writings distributed on the Internet to about two dozen subscribers." No pictures involved, only words. Since the 1973 landmark obscenity case, Miller v. California, there have been no federal convictions for purported obscenity of the image-free variety. Fletcher's short stories involve "detailed fictional accounts of the molesting, torture and sometimes gruesome murders of children under the age of 10, mostly girls." But she is not charged with violating any child pornography laws -- only the (adult) obscenity rules. She is charged with being a commercial filth purveyor, because she established a fee of $10 to grant her small coterie of readers access to the site. According to the Times, Ms. Fletcher's lawyers "argued in court that the fee barely covered her expenses and was imposed only because she believed using a credit card requirement would prevent minors from signing into the site. In the end, only 29 people subscribed, at least one of whom is likely to have been a police informant." Lots of prosecutorial resources are being expended so that lots of prison resources can be expended to keep the likes of Ms. Fletcher locked up. Right then, that should take care of this internet filth. I feel safer already.

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