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Archive for June 13th, 2008

To borrow heavily from Weasel – steal, actually:

On weekends lemur resteses.

In other words, I could use a few days off. I’m beat. Whipped. Zonked. Zapped. Folded. Spindled. Mutilated. I’m just going to post some old cynical stuff I wrote a long time ago for kicks.

My “leave me alone” sign for my office door:

Attention:

If you are bleeding to death, being eaten alive by wild goats, or on fire, send me an e:mail and I’ll see what I can do. Otherwise, if you see my door closed it probably means that I am not currently feeling receptive to:

Small talk, chit chat, jokes, innuendo, blunt character assassinations, vulcan mind melds, gossip, company representatives, currency exchange, Dixie Chicks, cookie sales, tongue bifurcations, charitable institutions, religious tracts, tummy tucks, snide comments, free shampoo samples, games of Twister in the meeting area, hot dog eating contests, David Blaine stunts, hoola hoops, body piercings, live food, Tim Robbins, brain surgery, gardening techniques, botox injections, Oprah Week, limburger cheese, fungal infections, cretins, poisonous snakes, ingrown toenails, insurance salesmen, stories of fallen arches, whiny requests, vomit, or poodles (of any kind).

This list is by no means complete and is a work in progress, use it as a set of  loose general guidelines.

I am receptive to: chilies (of any kind) or recipes involving spotted owls or snail-darters.

Ok. That pretty much puts it right on the table, doesn’t it? I thought so. Problem was, it was not universally loved and the one man who signed my paychecks was unmoved by my whining, so down it went. Same thing went for my work e:mail signature block:

DISCLAIMER: The information contained in this e-mail message may be privileged, confidential and protected from disclosure. If you are not the intended recipient, any further disclosure, use, dissemination, distribution, ingestion, exposure, printing, photographing, smoke-signaling, astral projecting, or copying of this message or any attachment is strictly prohibited, strongly discouraged, frowned upon, illegal, unethical, immoral, and just plain wrong and may result in your being fed to giant goat-eating cockroaches, diseased skunks, or rabid squirrels (depending on availability). If you think you have received this e-mail message in error, please e-mail the sender using a doubly-encrypted and digitally signed message with not less than two references (and an affidavit) at the above address and permanently delete the e-mail using at least three of the following – DoD approved wipe of your entire hard drive, disposal of your entire computer via thermite ordnance, trash compaction (3 passes, please), degaussing of exposed hard-drive subcomponents in not less than a 4 Tesla B-field, AND complete behavioral and memory reconditioning at any US Gov’t approved CIA safehouse. Although this e-mail and any attachments are believed to be free of any virus, bacteria, fungal infestations, prions, waxy buildups, otherwise unclassified pathogens, neurotoxins, mutagenic/teratrogenic/carcinogenic compounds, anaesthetics, stimulants, aphrodisiacs, antidepressants, asphyxiants, combustibles, explosives, blemishs, secretions, or other defects that might affect any computer system into which they are received and opened, it is the responsibility of the recipient to ensure that they are free of all forms of harm (debilitating or otherwise) and no responsibility is accepted by anyone, really, or any of their affiliates for any loss or damage arising in any way from their use.

You may have noticed a recurring theme: goats.

My suspicion is that it either came from Dr. Seuss OR from Berke Breathed. Either one is a badge of honor since they influenced my thinking greatly.

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You’ve probably heard my assertions that free speech should really be construed to apply to political speech and that local governments should be allowed to set the obscenity/decency standards for their region.

If you let local governments – state, county, city – establish decency standards then the odds are pretty good that standards will be set that represent the will of the people in a given region. Almost everyone agrees that certain behaviors are inappropriate and laws are enforced to ensure that – and the correctness of those laws is dictated by the prevalent attitudes regarding what constitutes porn. Examples would be vile swearing and harsh language in a public place where there might be a lot of kids, not being allowed to drop trou in a grocery store, and performing disgusting sexual acts in a public walkway (unless you are in Berkeley, apparently).

But then, we have individuals who, for lack of a better way of putting it, cross way way way over the line of 99% of the people out there and claim it is ok and protected.

The trial in question is centered around distribution of materials that have topics: combining sex and excretory material, animals, misogynist sex, and other “things”.

“It’s the most extreme material that’s ever been put on trial. I don’t know of anything more disgusting,” said Roger Jon Diamond _ Isaacs’ own defense attorney.

The case is the most visible effort of a new federal task force designed to crack down on smut in America. Isaacs, however, says his work is an extreme but constitutionally protected form of art.

“There’s no question the stuff is disgusting,” said Diamond, who has spent much of his career representing pornographers. “The question is should we throw people in jail for it?”

Isaacs, 57, a Los Angeles advertising agency owner who says he used to market fine art in commercial projects, calls himself a “shock artist” and says he went into distributing and producing films about fetishes because “I wanted to do something extreme.”

“I’m fighting for art,” he said in an interview before his federal trial got under way. “Art is on trial.”

He plans to testify as his own expert witness and said he will cite the historic battles over obscenity involving authors James Joyce and D.H. Lawrence.

One of his exhibits, he said, will be a picture of famed artist Marcel Duchamp’s “Fountain,” a porcelain urinal signed by the artist in 1917.

Diamond said Isaacs also will tell jurors the works have therapeutic value for people with the same fetishes depicted on screen.

“They don’t feel so isolated,” Diamond said. “They have fetishes that other people have.”

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/06/10/AR2008061002449_pf.html

So the question the lawyer poses is “should we throw people in jail for it”? Absolutely, if it violates laws on the books.

Jean Rosenbluth, a former federal prosecutor and law professor at University of Southern California, said such prosecutions were rare until the creation of the U.S. Department of Justice Obscenity Prosecution Task Force. Child pornography cases are handled by a separate unit.

“The problem with obscenity is no one really knows what it is,” she said. “It’s relatively simple to paint something as an artistic effort even if it’s offensive.”

This is utter BS. People know darned well what obscenity is. Where did the idea that one could do horribly obscene things and call it “art” come from? Why should “art” be protected? Is there something special about “art”? As long as you have people that make statements like “no one really knows what it is” you can pretty much fly in the face of common reason and prevailing attitudes via short-circuits and end-runs. And there are plenty of tools willing to step up to the plate.

But it gets better…

In an unusual twist, the trial is being presided over by the chief judge of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, Alex Kozinski, under a program that allows appellate judges to occasionally handle criminal trials at the District Court level. Kozinski is known as a strong defender of free speech and First Amendment rights.

This came to light on Wednesday (thereabouts). Now we learn more about our dear Judge Kozinski, who apparently was loathe to recuse himself because he now had access to more of his kind of “art”.

Alex Kozinski, chief judge of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, granted a 48-hour stay in the obscenity trial of a Hollywood adult filmmaker after the prosecutor requested time to explore “a potential conflict of interest concerning the court having a . . . sexually explicit website with similar material to what is on trial here.”

Source: LA Times

Kozinski had things to say to a reporter, surprisingly:

In an interview Tuesday with The Times, Kozinski acknowledged posting sexual content on his website. Among the images on the site were a photo of naked women on all fours painted to look like cows and a video of a half-dressed man cavorting with a sexually aroused farm animal. He defended some of the adult content as “funny” but conceded that other postings were inappropriate.

Ah, the same type of argument used by Pete Townshend when arrested for having child pornography… he was researching a book. Ah. Yes, that’s it. Perhaps Townshend could merely say that he was researching for a book on “art”.

To be fair, Townshend was not alone:

British police have arrested 1,300 people, including a judge, magistrates, dentists, hospital consultants and a deputy school headmaster, as part of Operation Ore, a crackdown on people who view child pornography on the Internet. Fifty police officers also have been arrested, and eight of them have been charged with offenses.

The argument could be made that Townshend was legitimately researching a book. However, given the sensitive nature of the entire issue, contacting the police would have been prudent.

Back to our judge… many prospective jurors requested to be excused because of the subject matter. The part that is truly damning about this judge is that he did not recuse himself and while not lying, did a damn fine job of deceit:

Several prospects marched up to the judge’s bench for private conferences when he told them that the films also involved violence against women. They, too, were excused, as were several who cited their religious beliefs.

Asked how long they would have to watch the movies, Kozinski told them it would be about five hours and “I will be there watching with you. This is part of the job we’re doing.”

Such sacrifice.

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