Crush Porn Before SCOTUS

Post to Twitter

The United States Supreme Court has granted certiorari in US v. Stevens, 533 F.3d 218 (3rd Cir. 2008).   The usual report is that the case is about videotapes of dog-fighting and whether their sale can be criminalized under the First Amendment.   Indeed, Stevens, the defendant, was convicted under 18 U.S.C. § 48, which provides that

“Whoever knowingly creates, sells, or possesses a depiction of animal cruelty with the intention of placing that depiction in interstate or foreign commerce for commercial gain, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than 5 years, or both.”

But as the Third Circuit noted, Congress was not necessarily primarily interested in the protection of animals:

Resort here to some legislative history is instructive, not as a device to help us construe or interpret the statute, but rather to demonstrate the statute’s breadth as written compared to what may originally have been intended. The legislative history for § 48 indicates that the primary conduct that Congress sought to address through its passage was the creation, sale, or possession of”crush videos.”A rush video is a depiction of”women inflicting . . . torture [on animals] with their bare feet or while wearing high heeled shoes. In some video depictions, the woman’s voice can be heard talking to the animals in a kind of dominatrix patter. The cries and squeals of the animals, obviously in great pain, can also be heard in the videos.”H.R. REP. NO. 106-397, at 2 (1999). Testimony presented at a hearing on the Bill, and referenced in the House Committee Report, indicates that”these depictions often appeal to persons with a very specific sexual fetish who find them sexually arousing or otherwise exciting.”Id. at 2–3.

In short, this is a case about”pornography”or”sexual expression”(choose your label) as well as about the abuse of animals.

–Ruthann Robson

Share
This entry was posted in Academia, Feminism and Law, Guest Blogger and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.