Yes, gentle readers, there is such a group. They hunt down and prosecute purveyors of obscene materials. And I am writing to urge the Obscenity Prosecution Task Force, the Department of Justice, and the Bush Administration, to hunt the most dangerous game of all: A federal judge. And not just any federal judge either, but perhaps the most dangerous judge of them all: Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals Chief Judge the Honorable Alex Kozinski. He should be easy to find.
One of the highest-ranking federal judges in the United States, who is currently presiding over an obscenity trial in Los Angeles, has maintained his own publicly accessible website featuring sexually explicit photos and videos.
Alex Kozinski, chief judge of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, acknowledged in an interview with The Times that he had posted the materials, which included a photo of naked women on all fours painted to look like cows and a video of a half-dressed man cavorting with a sexually aroused farm animal. Some of the material was inappropriate, he conceded, although he defended other sexually explicit content as "funny."
Kozinski, 57, said that he thought the site was for his private storage and that he was not aware the images could be seen by the public, although he also said he had shared some material on the site with friends. After the interview Tuesday evening, he blocked public access to the site.
Yes, the lurid material, gentle readers, consisted of photos of naked ladies dressed as cows and other perversities. A porn stash.
I don't know whether the material was funny or not, though if it is that might give it some redeeming social value, thus rendering it non-obscene. Nonetheless, I maintain that the Obscenity Prosecution Task Force should pursue this matter vigorously.
I make this recommendation not out of ill will toward Judge Kozinski. Indeed, though I'll never meet him the man is something of a hero to me, as I've admired his writing, his thought, his wit, and his philosophy of commonsense libertarianism for years. Indeed, I think him the best federal appellate judge, and would wish there were more like him but for the fact that Kozinski is unique.
No. I make this recommendation because the public needs to see that this is a government of laws, not men, where the high might be brought down among the low. I make this recommendation because I want the government to defend its power to regulate the people's ability to view whatever they want to see from the privacy of their own monitors not against some creep or pornographer assisted by a do-gooder ACLU type or some hapless public defender, but against a mind better than any the government will throw at it, as well as the monster criminal attorneys who would leap at the opportunity to defend Alex Kozinski.
I want the government to teach the public, if it can, why obscenity prosecutions punishing what appears to be purely private conduct and viewing by consenting adults are good for a society which respects individual autonomy and liberty.
And I want someone to school the government in return.
Via Stephen Bainbridge, who addressed all of the messy ethical issues of recusal and propriety that to be honest I just don't find that interesting in this case.