Score one for free speech in the US!

John Stagliano, famous porn producer and head of Evil Angel productions, will not be going to jail for violating American obscenity laws. There were two movies he was charged for as well as for having a trailer on his website for one of the movies, which supposedly could have been accessed by minors. Stagliano has been fighting these charges for 3 years, and last month, they were thrown out of court because the judge was not satisfied that Stagliano could be conclusively linked to the production and distribution of the two videos.

I'm not a fan of Stagliano. What I've seen of his stuff is certainly not my cup of tea. He has produced some pretty famous movies, but he presents images of women that I'm just not comfortable with. However, I am fully in favor of his right to do it and for the adult consumers right to choose to watch it or not. He's been in the porn industry for many years and he knows the rules. The performers in his videos are all over 18. There are no illegal acts portrayed in the movies. There are warnings and age requirements on all of his websites. He is following the laws and community standards of practice.

So why was he indicted? It is not because the two movies (Milk Nymphos and Storm Squirters II - ridiculous? yes, obscene? by who's standards?), were particularly offensive, or because he produced and distributed something that actually violated any other law. These are not hard core violent films. They are your average, smutty movies that are being churned out by the thousand every year. So why go after Stagliano for producing the kind of movies that have become commonplace in America? It's because Stagliano is one of the biggest porn producers in the USA right now. Anti-porn groups are looking for a precedent to go after the porn industry and Stagliano would be one hell of a precedent. The stuff he makes is a pretty easy target too, because there are a lot of people who would find it offensive.

But does the fact that some people find his films offensive mean that he should be denied the right to produce them and even jailed for doing so? The American obscenity laws a vague and very subjective. The main two standards by which material is judged to be obscene are whether it 'appeals to purient interests' and 'serves no artistic merit or purpose'. Who makes the call about those two standards. Who is to say whether a movie has artistic merit or not? Who is to say that a video appeals to purient interests?

This is the first obscenity trial to take place in Washington in 25 years. The charges were laid in 2007, during the Bush administration, during which time the number of obscenity charges more than doubled. It's not hard to see that a campaign against porn was being launched. I'm not a fan of slippery slope arguments but here is a bonfide slippery slope. If Stagliano were convicted, who would be next? Once a precedent is in place, it's much easier to go after all kinds of adult film producers. And where does it stop? Would we start seeing mainstream film producers, Hollywood and independent film producers brought up on charges because their movies were deemed to appeal to purient interest and have no artistic merit?

It would be nice to celebrate Stagliano's victory but unfortunately, it's a bit of a hollow one. He did not 'win' the case. It was not determined either that his movies did not violate the law or, better yet, that the law itself should be challenged. The charges were thrown out on the technicality that he couldn't be conclusively linked to the videos in question. So is it a victory at all? Is there another charge for another big public figure in the offing?

Only time will tell is Obama will have as much interest in porn as George W. did.