Gross Violations: Obscenity Prosecution

By Sullum, Jacob | Reason, July 2012 | Go to article overview

Gross Violations: Obscenity Prosecution


Sullum, Jacob, Reason


THE FIRST two times the Justice Department prosecuted Ira Isaacs for obscenity, the trials ended without a verdict. The third time proved the charm in April, when a Los Angeles jury convicted Isaacs on five counts that could send him to prison for 25 years.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

Isaacs' defense boiled down to this: My films are so disgusting that they must be art. The self-described "shock artist" who was charged in connection with films featuring scatology and bestiality that he directed or distributed, said he aims to "challenge the viewer."

It was a risky argument, since patent offensiveness is one element of obscenity as defined by federal law. But it apparently persuaded two jurors at his second trial, which ended in March with a hung jury. Isaacs told Adult Video News correspondent Mark Kernes there were two holdouts, both women. "She basically said that her and another juror thought that this was art, serious art, and had artistic value, and should not be found obscene" Isaacs said. …

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