To anyone who has been following First Amendment jurisprudence in the past 40 or 50 years, the recent Supreme Court decision (United States v. Stevens, April 20) striking down a statute criminalizing the production and sale of videos depicting animal cruelty in a manner intended to satisfy a particular “sexual fetish” will come as no surprise.Read the rest here.
The proverbial ordinary citizen, however, may be surprised to learn that, according to Chief Justice John Roberts’ majority opinion, the First Amendment must be read to allow the production and dissemination of so called “crush videos,” videos (and I quote from Roberts’ opinion) that “feature the intentional torture and killing of helpless animals” often by women wearing high-heeled “spike” shoes who slowly “crush animals to death” while talking to them in “a kind of dominatrix patter” as they scream and squeal “in great pain.” How has it come to this?
This is a very powerful and thought provoking essay which forces me to take a half step back and reassess my generally libertarian views in matters appertaining to government and the law. Mr. Fish has made, I think, a compelling argument that perhaps the pendulum has swung too far. Clearly if we are not to descend into utter anarchy or unrestrained moral depravity there must be some limits even on "speech." The question is where and what kind of limits? Even asking that question gives me chills. The restraint of liberty is a very slippery slope...
And yet I cannot grasp how a court could rule as it did in the Stevens case and still rationally conclude that child pornography is beyond the pale.