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Wasting your Money, Policing your Morality

The New York Times reportsabout a federal privatization of its neo-con censorship program. Original article here

A retired Indianapolis detective, Tom Rogers, is paid $150,000 to surf porn sites and make his own personal determination as to whether they are obscene, and thus should be referred to the Department of Justice for prosecution.

His work is financed by a Justice Department grant initially provided through a Congressional earmark inserted into a spending bill by Representative Frank R. Wolf, Republican of Virginia.

The grant, about $150,000 a year, has helped pay for Mr. Rogers and another retired law enforcement officer in Reno, Nev., to harvest and review complaints about obscene matter on the Internet that citizens register on the Justice Department Web site.

In the last few years, 67,000 citizens’ complaints have been deemed legitimate under the program and passed on to the Justice Department and federal prosecutors.

The number of prosecutions resulting from those referrals is zero.

So, the “small government” party has been paying two uneducated idiots who probably never even went to college, let alone law school, to evaluate materials under the Miller test. Remember that next April when you pay your taxes.

[The Department of Justice] invites citizens to report material that they believe is obscene so it can be investigated and, perhaps, prosecuted. Clicking on the site to make a report takes the user to, which is run by Morality in Media, the grant recipient.

Morality in Media is a conservative religious group that has worked since 1962 to “rid the world of pornography” and whose headquarters is, improbably, on the Upper West Side of Manhattan.

Morality in Media appears to be a collecting quite a bit of largess from Congressman Wolf.

[DOJ] officials, however, seemed less than keen to talk about Spokesmen for the criminal division said officials there had nothing to do with the program, which they had been obliged to start because of the earmark.

This is where it really gets funny. The Department of Justice warns people not to actively look for obscene websites, noting:

“men are particularly vulnerable to pornographic addiction.” Identifying Internet smut, the site advises, is best left to professional law enforcement personnel.

Remember, we’re talking about Federal funds spent on paying two shmucks who I wouldn’t let bus tables, so they can surf internet porn. Their job is to find pictures of consenting adults, sold to consenting adults, by consenting adults. Once he finds something that bothers him he encourages the DOJ to place the “culprits” in prison.

Stephen G. Bates, a Harvard-trained lawyer and journalism professor, said he was appalled when he discovered that the Justice Department was outsourcing a search for obscenity.

Although sexual material may be distasteful to many, it is not necessarily obscene, which the Supreme Court defined in 1973 as material that, taken as a whole, lacks artistic merit, depicts certain conduct in a patently offensive manner and violates contemporary community standards.

In an op-ed article last month in The Washington Post and other newspapers, Mr. Bates said Morality in Media’s religious cast, the sensitivity of the constitutional issue of free speech and the outsourcing together made “a mockery of the First Amendment, chilling freedom of expression.”

Mr. Wolf would not comment. Over several days, his aides said he was too busy to do so.

Too busy surfing porn and defiling the Constitution, no doubt.

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