October 20, 2005 - Attorney General Alberto Gonzales has announced that his office will specifically target "bestiality, urination, defecation, as well as sadistic and masochistic behavior" in pursuing new obscenity prosecutions. The Department of Justice began recruiting in late July for a new anti-obscenity squad to pursue obscenity prosecutions, and the FBI announced in September that it was forming an anti-obscenity task force to crack down on pornography.
Any website that has content containing "bestiality, urination, defecation, as well as sadistic and masochistic behavior" should be forewarned that prosecution is possible. Additionally, Federal sentencing guidelines state that any obscenity- related punishment should be "enhanced for sadomasochistic material."
Forty people and businesses have been convicted of obscenity since 2001, and 20 additional indictments are pending according to Andrew Oosterbaan, chief of the Justice Department's child exploitation and obscenity section. There were only four obscenity prosecutions during the eight years of the Clinton administration.
Though adult content is, in theory, protected by the First Amendment, only a jury can determine if a work is obscene or not under the subjective set of standards that vary from one community to the next established in the 1973 Supreme Court ruling, Miller v. California.
Text is not inherently more protected than images when it comes to obscenity charges. The erotic fiction website Red Rose Stories is facing obscenity charges after federal agents raided the owner's home on October 3rd, taking computer equipment and diskettes that contained all of their files and site information.
The Department of Justice is clearly hoping that websites will self-censor or remove their content entirely. Midori, a fetish model and SM educator who teaches classes on bondage, has removed her website, BeautyBound.com, citing fear of obscenity prosecution. The owner of three SM websites, known as GrandPa DeSade, removed his websites from the Internet. SuicideGirls.com also announced they are self-censoring their materials over concerns about a possible obscenity crackdown.
Recent prosecutions of obscenity on websites include: A former police officer in Lakeland, Florida, was arrested on October 7th on over 300 obscenity-related charges for the sexual content posted on his website. The same day, webmaster Chris Wilson, owner of amateur website NowThatsFuckedUp.com, was raided on charges of obscenity by a local Sheriff's office.
"I think it's crucial for us to stand up for consensual sadomasochism and other alternative sexual practices," says Barbara Nitke, fetish photographer. "This is a battle worth fighting, and I hope everyone who can will just censor out the most provocative material from their websites, but keep them up. I also appeal to the lawyers in our community to help us find ways to keep people's websites up."
Barbara Nitke and the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom (NCSF) have proactively challenged federal obscenity laws as applied to the Internet, arguing that obscenity laws based on "local community standards" are too vague and their existence burdens protected speech, resulting in self-censorship due to the fear of prosecution. A district court three-judge panel in New York ruled that while Nitke and the NCSF members were at risk, more proof was needed that obscenity laws cause otherwise protected speech to be restrained through acts of self-censorship. The case is currently on appeal to the United States Supreme Court.
"The effect of silencing alternative lifestyle speech was exactly why we brought the lawsuit," says attorney John Wirenius, lead counsel for NCSF. "The self- censorship we are seeing underscores the importance of supporting our ongoing obscenity challenge."
To contribute to the appeal of the CDA lawsuit, go to: www.ncsfreedom.org/donations.htm
NCSF’s Coalition Partners Join Together for Consent Summit The National Coalition for Sexual Freedom held its annual Coalition Partner meeting in Phoenix, Arizona from February 8-10, 2013. The Consent Summit took place Friday evening, and Coalition Partners were able to participate via streaming video to give their input on the new Consent Statement. Go to www.ncsfreedom.org to see the Consent Statement and comment on it. “The Consent Statement…
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE National Coalition for Sexual Freedom NCSF Survey on Consent The National Coalition for Sexual Freedom (NCSF) wants to hear from you! Please take our Consent Counts survey and tell us what you think about consent: www.ncsfreedom.org/survey.html As part of decriminalizing BDSM in the legal codes, we need to be able to articulate a clear definition of consent that the BDSM communities believe in. The results of this…
NCSF Launches the Next Chapter for Consent Counts February 27, 2012 The National Coalition for Sexual Freedom (NCSF) announces two new publications as part of its nationwide campaign, Consent Counts. The Consent Counts Project was launched by the BDSM-leather-fetish communities in 2006 to decriminalize consensual BDSM in U.S. law by ensuring that consent will be recognized as a defense to criminal charges brought under assault laws and other statutes. "For…
Our BDSM communities could be adversely impacted by a well-intentioned, but overly broad, piece of proposed criminal legislation that has been introduced by Senator Christine Kehoe in the California Senate. NCSF is asking all of you to sign and send to NCSF letters (a draft is attached below) that we can introduce if necessary at a hearing likely to be held in April, 2011. The purpose of the bill, SB…
In an indictment rendered by a Grand Jury in the Western District of Missouri on September 9, 2010, five Missouri men allegedly participated in torturing a mentally disabled woman online or in person over a multi-year period when the victim was between the ages of 16 and 24. Among the charges are: Sex Trafficking by Force, Fraud or Coercion, Forced Labor Trafficking, Transportation for Sexual Activity, and Conspiracy. The allegations…
Developed Educational Programs and Outreach Materials
Built Alliances With Sexual Freedom Advocacy Groups
About Consent Counts
NCSF is leading a major national campaign—Consent Counts—to change the laws and police practices that our communities now endure, and to establish that consent is available as a defense in criminal BDSM prosecutions.
BDSM is prosecuted as assault in the U.S., even when it is consensual.
No state or appellate court has allowed consent as a defense to assault in BDSM cases.
Consent Counts is a nationwide project to decriminalize consensual BDSM.
Program Goals: Consent Counts is a nationwide project to decriminalize consensual BDSM through education, advocacy, legal actions and lobbying.