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Los Angeles Times Misses Max Hardcore's Obscenity Conviction

You'd think the obscenity conviction of a notorious California porn hustler would merit a 30 point headline in his hometown paper: “Jury Bites Max Hardcore 20 Times.” And you'd be wrong.  The Los Angeles Times ignored the story, even though it's a one of those “man bites dog” situations.  Juries rarely convict on obscenity charges, as the feds haven't given them much of a chance in the last 15 years.


On June 5, a Tampa, Fla., federal jury convicted Paul F. Little, a.k.a. “Max Hardcore,” of 10 counts of selling obscene material on the Internet and 10 counts of shipping it to Tampa through the U.S. mail. Little produced and performed in the DVDs charged in the 20-count federal indictment.


The jury watched 8 ½ hours of “extreme pornography,” and “ winced” as Little “performed in scenes that included urinating, vomiting and violently dominating women, according to the St. Petersburg Times, The women “are often made up to look like young girls.”


Now that's hardcore porn.  The one thing the feds couldn't charge Max with was false advertising.


At sentencing on Sept. 5, 2008, he faces a maximum statutory penalty of up to 5 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for each count of conviction as well as forfeiture of all domain names. His company, MaxWorld, faces a separate $250,000 fine.


The North Country Gazette, which serves “New York State and beyond,” found Max's conviction in Florida newsworthy: “Max Hardcore Guilty of Obscenity Crimes.”


An obscenity conviction of a California pornographer in Florida merits coverage in upstate New York, but no mention in The Los Angeles Times? What's up with that? The Times calls L.A. “the porn capital of the world,” and mad Max lives in nearby Altadena, Calif. The Times doubtless received the same AP wire as the Gazette and the Miami Herald, which also ran the story: http://www.miamiherald.com/775/story/560693.html.


Even more conspicuous is Times' reporter Scott Glover's failure to mention Little's convictions in a 1,064-word article on June 9 about another obscenity trial about to begin in the federal district court in Los Angeles, “Upcoming Trial Will See Hours of Hard-Core Fetish Pornography.”


Since Glover mentions other successful obscenity prosecutions, you have to wonder how he missed Max's conviction last week:


The task force has won convictions in more than a dozen cases, the vast majority resulting from plea bargains, according to case summaries provided by the department. Only a few defendants have elected to fight the charges at trial. Punishment in most cases included some prison time, ranging from one to seven years, as well as stiff fines and forfeiture of proceeds.


Glover claims the obscenity task force exists because “Christian conservative groups appealed to the Bush administration to crack down on smut.” True, but they're not alone. The latest poll indicates that “75 percent of adult Americans” would “totally support” a president who vigorously enforces obscenity laws,” according to a survey commissioned by Morality in Media and conducted by Harris Interactive between Apr. 2-6, 2008.


Glover doesn't' get the legal definition of obscenity right either. He says that “if jurors find that any of the four videos at issue in the case have any “literary, scientific or artistic value,” the work is not legally obscene, according to a 1973 Supreme Court ruling.” Finding any value won't get Isaacs an acquittal. If the jury finds that the videos “lack serious literary, artistic, political or scientific values,” according to the Supreme Court's ruling in Miller v. California, Isaacs and Little could be cell mates.


Glover rightly recognizes that “prosecutors have focused their efforts on particularly outrageous material, often involving sex with animals and defecation.” Consequently, the porn industry hasn't been remotely deterred from deluging America with hardcore porn that qualifies for prosecution under Miller, yet has been ignored by the feds even when online pornographers make their smut accessible by children.


Pornographers are evil, not necessarily dim-witted. They know how to avoid the prosecutorial bar like they know their ABCs—animals, bondage, children, domination, excretory, fisting—as obscene as it gets.


According to Glover, “Isaacs predicted that many jurors would not be able to stomach viewing the movies, some of which feature acts of bestiality and defecation. 'It's going to be a circus,' he said of the upcoming trial. 'I think I'd freak out if I had to watch six hours of the stuff.'” He asks “do we really want to throw artists in jail in America?”


If Isaacs didn't rely on the Times for news, he'd know that jurors in Tampa answered that one last week when they sunk their teeth into his fellow “artist.”


Jan LaRue is a member of the Board of Advisors of the Culture and Media Institute.