April 16, 2002 06:17pm
FSC, Adult Industry Advocate, Wins Landmark Court Decision
Source: The Free Speech Coalition
by: Company Press Release
(LOS ANGELES, CA) -- in what is certainly the most important First Amendment decision in decades, the U.S. Supreme Court today struck down two sections of the 1996 Child Pornography Prevention Act (CPPA), which criminalized depictions of adults who "appeared to be" or "conveyed the impression of" being minors.
"These images do not involve, let alone harm, any children in the production process; but Congress decided the materials threaten children in other, less direct, ways," wrote Justice Anthony M. Kennedy. "The prospect of crime, however, by itself does not justify laws suppressing protected speech."
Sony Pictures, Paramount, Universal and even Disney can rest a little easier, thanks to the crusading work by the adult entertainment industry's Free Speech Coalition, whose position that child pornography must involve actual children was affirmed today by the Supreme Court.
"We congratulate the producers of Traffic, Fast Times At Ridgemont High, American Beauty, Midnight Cowboy, the Tin Drum and many other films on not having to recall and destroy these important cinematic works of art," said Jeffrey Douglas, Chairman of the Board of the Free Speech Coalition.
The Coalition, which offered its services to Attorney General John Ashcroft in the government's fight against child pornography, along with the Coalition's three co-plaintiffs, were the only entertainment industry members to challenge Congress' attempt to define young-looking adults in sexual situations as child pornography.
"When people hear the words 'child pornography,' they become fearful and go into a sort of brain-freeze," Douglas observed. "But we at the Coalition recognized that the CPPA wasn't about children at all; it was about the suppression of ideas. Worse, in trying to suppress adult material made by adults for adults, the government appears almost to be trivializing the real harm done to real children by pedophiles and child rapists."
The government had argued that material such as retouched photos, computer-generated images and even busty actresses in pigtails and miniskirts could be used by pedophiles to seduce children, and should therefore be illegal.
"There are many things innocent in themselves, however, such as cartoons, video games, and candy, that might be used for immoral purposes, yet we would not expect those to be prohibited because they can be misused," countered Justice Kennedy. "Here, the Government wants to keep speech from children not to protect them from its content but to protect them from those who would commit other crimes. The principle, however, remains the same: The Government cannot ban speech fit for adults simply because it may fall into the hands of children."
But perhaps most importantly, Justice Kennedy reaffirmed the one American freedom that underlies all the others: The freedom to think.
"First Amendment freedoms are most in danger when the government seeks to control thought or to justify its laws for that impermissible end," Justice Kennedy observed. "The right to think is the beginning of freedom, and speech must be protected from the government because speech is the beginning of thought. To preserve these freedoms, and to protect speech for its own sake, the Court's First Amendment cases draw vital distinctions between words and deeds, between ideas and conduct."
"We are absolutely delighted that the Court made this very fine ruling, and we're glad that they supported the Ninth Circuit," commented Coalition Executive Director William Lyon. "This is not just a victory for the adult industry, but for free speech in general, because once again, it comes down to saying that adult American citizens have the right to choose what they read, view and discuss. Individual freedom was the big winner today."
The Free Speech Coalition
William Lyon, Executive Director 818.348.9373
Jeffrey Douglas, Board Chairman 310.576.3411
Mark Kernes, Publicist/Board member 818.718.5788x150
On the Internet: www.freespeechcoalition.com