VAN NUYS, Calif.—I wanted to wait a few days to see if I was rushing to judgment, but after those days have passed it is still clear that it was Judge Baylson, and only Baylson, who rushed to judgment, issuing a ruling that is not only terrible in terms of its jurisprudence, but insulting to boot to the plaintiffs who put themselves in his hands.
I also wanted to wait to see if further readings would ameliorate the anger I feel because I found nuances in the ruling that I had missed in a first reading. But the reverse happened; the more I read the more irrational the ruling became. I even tried for a moment to excuse the judge because of his age and all too apparent illiteracy and unease with technological issues, but that vanished quickly, too. He’s not that old and age is no excuse for such a deplorable ruling.
I am going to go through some of the more egregious points made by the judge as time permits, but for now I want to quote from the ruling: “Finally, the Court recognizes there is evidence of two specific projects contemplated by Plaintiffs that will, admittedly, be barred by the Statutes. These are Dodson and Ross’ genital art gallery and Barbara Alper’s Fire Island project. But the Court concludes this is a reasonable cost given Congress’ underlying objective of eliminating child pornography.”
I start with that selection as an example of the idiocy of this ruling and, frankly, this judge. First, the ease with which he dismisses the self-censorship in these two instances is appalling. But worse is his apparent ignorance of the fact that these two instances will pale in comparison to the chill felt by untold thousands of people in this country if this law is allowed to stand as is. That is not a possibility but a certainty. Just taking the words above at face value, though, reveals the danger contained within them. There was plenty of testimony that showed that the vast majority of child porn, if not the virtual totality of child porn, is found outside the adult industry. So if the judge is willing to sacrifice the speech of Dodson, Ross and Alper to support a law that in no way, shape or form works to eliminating child porn, how much legitimate speech is he willing to snuff out to really eliminate child porn, if such a thing, such a process were even possible!
Calling the product created as a result of the few people who’ve lied to get into porn before they were over 18 years of age child porn is itself kind of creepy.