posted Jan 23, 2001

Justices To Review Virtual Porn Ban
Free Speech
1/23/2001; 4:40:36 PM 'Taking on a child pornography dispute, the Supreme Court said Monday it will decide whether Congress can ban computer-altered pictures that only appear to show minors involved in sexual activity.

'The court said it will hear the government's argument that by banning sexual images that do not actually portray children, a 1996 law ``helps to stamp out the market for child pornography involving real children.'''

Credit goes to Steve Imparl, moderator of the weblaw mailing list at, for this opinion of mine. "Virtual" child pornography is almost certainly already an obscenity under the touchstone of obscenity in America, Miller v. California, 413 U.S. 15 (1973) (note that link goes to the actual decision, so you can decide for yourself).  From that decision:

The basic guidelines for the trier of fact must be: (a) whether "the average person, applying contemporary community standards" would find that the work, taken as a whole, appeals to the prurient interest, Roth, supra, at 489, (b) whether the work depicts or describes, in a patently offensive way, sexual conduct specifically defined by the applicable state law, and (c) whether the work, taken as a whole, lacks serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value. If a state obscenity law is thus limited, First Amendment values are adequately protected by ultimate independent appellate review of constitutional claims when necessary.

Based on that standard, it would seem child pornography, virtual or otherwise, is already fully regulable under the law as obscene material. Note my implicit claim that the virtual-ness is irrelevant... I'm not trying to sneak that by

While I may approve of the intention, I do not approve of unnecessary proliferation of laws. (I wonder how many lawyers know what KISS stands for?)


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