As much as I admire many of the postal workers for the great job that they do, I'm appalled that the management of the USPS has squandered away too much time and money engaging in purely religious and political activities during the Bush Administration years, and is now pondering mail service cutbacks as an effort to help balance their budget mistakes after wasting so much money on some activities not at all related to better mail delivery service.
As a former rock singer and songwriter, who has performed many shows including a show with Frank Zappa's Band among other national acts, I'm always outraged at any story that involves government attempting to police the music, film or artist community.
But where this story really starts is back with George Bush who appointed one of the most right wing and conservative Salt Lake City Mormons you could find, Brent D. Ward, to head the FBI's Anti-obscenity Task Force. In his native Utah, Ward was a member of a local wacko censorship organization, Citizens For Positive Community Values, that attacked strip clubs, and Ward's disturbed and prudish politics were so far out that he couldn't even get the conservative Republican controlled legislature in his own home state to pass legislation he endorsed to essentially ban strip clubs in his state or at least force the dancers to wear at least a bikini bathing suit, although very few such tavern establishments even exist in this far right conservative religious state with very low alcohol consumption.
Religious wacko Ward also was a major force that was involved in the firing of federal prosecutors scandal under Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. A number of federal prosecutors thought it was simply crazy for the federal government to waste time and money surfing the thousands of adult entertainment oriented websites on the Internet looking for some example of some adult content that just might be considered to be legally obscene in some conservative local community somewhere because the screwy 1973 Supreme Court ruling with the Nixon appointed Warren Burger court allowed local communities the right to make local ordinances to ban certain obscene free speech. Unlike most nations of the world, the level of free expression tolerated by government is determined city by city, town by town. There is no national standard of what is acceptable or not. And a number of states such as Oregon, Maine and Alaska have no laws dealing with obscenity. Only some states or local governments have some obscenity law on the books.
When Ward and Gonzales got rid of a number of federal prosecutors who wanted to use the federal justice system to actually combat real crime such as terrorism, drugs, violence or fraud, then they had a freer hand to use federal agencies to pursue religious and political activities such as surfing the Internet looking for porn that offended their own religious values and might just be considered obscene in some conservative or religious district.
Partisan Mormon Brent Ward also found some postal inspectors with plenty of time on their hands to look for Internet merchandise items they could order by mail order from the Internet to lure into some conservative local community to set up some legal entrapment schemes for the prosecution of adult entertainment distributors who ran lawful businesses. This was despite clearly posted legal disclaimers on their websites that their materials were not to be ordered or viewed in some conservative communities where local laws may forbid their sale. The fact of the matter is that some DVD that is perfectly legal for sale throughout most of the U.S., especially in larger cities, could possibly violate some local city ordinance somewhere in some jerkwater Southern town or some similar small town place. There is no way the World Wide Web can be regulated city by city, or town by town, and there is no way for some merchandise distributor to know if some DVD or sex toy like a vibrator violates some local town ordinance. Merchandise distributors simply are in the business of selling such goods to consenting and willing customers and don't have the means to set up huge legal departments of numerous teams of lawyers to know what every local city ordinance might just be. The World Wide Web is simply too large of an entity for this.
The fact of the matter is that some like religious partisan Mormon Brent D. Ward want to impose their own religious views on the entire nation. And Brent Ward helped to fill both the FBI as well as the federal prosecutors with more like himself that who believed that the promotion of his own religious agenda was the proper role for government. Whoever knew that the major role of government should be the promotion of the personal Mormon religion of Brent D. Ward?
According to a major retailing organization, AVN, John Stagliano, an HIV positive former Chippendale's dancer who runs Evil Angel Productions is one of the largest adult entertainment DVD distributors in the nation. And his company has a huge catalog of films. According to Wikipedia, Stagliano, who also nicknames himself "Buttman", makes offbeat adult films seem to have a curious, if not juvenile preoccupation with the subject of women's behinds. Stagliano has operated his California based business legally and lawfully for many years, and even fully complies with every California insurance for the film production rules and other state regulations for a legitimate film production company. However a large film producer like this has become a major target of some like Brent Ward and his other right wing religious allies in the Justice Department, FBI and the United States Postal Service.
Recently, Brent Ward helped to arrange a postal entrapment scheme to order several of the more controversial titles from Stagliano's catalog of many films available on his Internet website and then indicted Stagliaqno on eight counts of sending obscene material via the public mail service to a local community where the content of the films might just violate some local obscenity ordinance. Strangely, even though it is actually a possible violation of some local city or county ordinance that is really at issue here, the federal government can actually bring federal charges against a defendant who is thought to be in violation of some local ordinance. And by bringing more than one federal charge, the federal government can also charge a person with racketeering if it can convict a person on just any two of any of the charges, thereby allowing a government seizure of all business related assets, property and bank accounts, and levy huge fines that can run into the millions of dollars and allow the imprisonment of up to twenty years in a federal prison. It is a perfect way for a fascist legal system to silence controversial artists and filmmakers. It is a power equal to the death penalty to silence a controversial artist in America.
In another case, a film producer, Paul Little who produces films as the character "Max Hardcore", surrendered himself to federal authorities in Los Angeles today to serve a long 46 month sentence in a California federal prison for sending some claimed obscene DVDs into a conservative Florida community. What was interesting about this illegal trial is that it was actually a film distributor who mailed the DVDs to California, and not Little himself. Little was merely the film producer. However, the distributor was given immunity against prosecution in exchange for testimony against Little. And the judge in the case only allowed small portions of the films to be viewed as excerpts in court, whereby any legal obscenity prosecution is supposed to be based on taking a "work as a whole" according to the 1973 Supreme Court decision. But this is type of justice to be expected in George Bush's America. Illegal trials and long prison sentences for persons who did not actually commit claimed "political" crimes against the state have become common place. America has it's own political prisoners and Guantanamo Bay type prisons for artists and filmmakers right here. Little's films are perfectly legal for sale throughout California and much of the rest of the country. But because he was caught up in a federal and postal inspector entrapment scheme and convicted in an illegal trial, then he has to serve a long prison sentence to keep him from making any more films by the government.
This is the type of politically repressive legal environment in which writers, musicians, artists, filmmakers and others who create cultural works must operate in since the days of George Bush and his administration's total disregard for the Bill Of Rights and the rule of law. And some of the management of the United States Postal Service has also worked to advance this repressive religious-political agenda and environment as well. Now these cultural fascists claim that they need to cut back on the mail service because they are losing money. Well, screw 'em. They had no business wasting time and money putting people who make controversial entertainment in federal prisons or policing the entertainment industry. Normal persons are intelligent enough to decide whether they want to watch a Disney film or SAW V, or whatever. It's not the job of the government to pick and choose which movie, book or record album you may decide to enjoy.
The fact of the matter is that normal everyday persons count on the mail service to pay bills or to get their Social Security checks. Business people count on the mail to stay in business. Lawyers count on the mail to mail probate related materials to their clients. Six day mail service is vital to the public good and welfare. Instead some postal managers abused postal service funds to pay some people to promote some religious-political agenda for the sake of someone like a Brent D. Ward. Now the public is being threatened with postal service cutbacks to help pay for all this waste of funds and cultural meddling.
Note: Wizbang Blue is now closed and our authors have moved on. Paul Hooson can now be found at Wizbang Pop!. Please come see him there!