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Fair Play for Francis

WWW- from Lady Justice isn’t blind.

With her predatory eyes now set on the pornography industry, the inequity of the American legal system continues to make a mockery of the Supreme Court’s promise of “equal protection under law.”

The U.S. Justice Department’s effort to persecute Mantra Films demonstrates the federal government’s interest in using law enforcement as yet another tool to serve certain political interests.

Mantra Films, makers of the “Girls Gone Wild” series, pleaded guilty to the department’s charges and has agreed to pay a staggering $2.1 million in fines and “restitution.”

The company was charged with failing to maintain proof of age and identification for the performers in its videos.

Mantra Films was also charged with not properly labeling its products, as required by a new federal law.

The charge against Mantra Films is that they did not maintain the proof and identification of each woman who has made an appearance in one of their many adult-themed films dating from 2002 to 2003.

And though the Justice Department parades Mantra Films’ guilty plea as a victory against the exploitation of minors, there is not one single shred of evidence that anyone under the age of 18 has appeared in any of the films in question.

Regardless of the type of business Mantra Films engages in, this company deserves to have their rights respected. We may find pornography repulsive, but it does not follow that its producers ought not to have the same rights as the rest of us.

All that Mantra Films is guilty of is not keeping sufficiently accurate records on some of the women who appeared in their videos three or four years ago.

The larger issue in this brouhaha is the continued influence of moral paternalism in the American government.

In a time when the threats posed to children are sensationalized by those seeking to use these “crises” for their own political gain, the disproportionate attention that government investigators spent on easy targets of our cultural decay is disconcerting.

It is no coincidence that the federal government was able to find that the producers of Girls Gone Wild did not dot all of their I’s or cross all of their T’s.

The law has been written so that it is nearly impossible for these companies to be free of all legal technicalities.

What else could explain the charge that the Girls Gone Wild videos were not “properly labeled” – as if the content of such videos is some sort of secret withheld from helpless consumers?

The moral of this story has nothing to do with the “exploitation” of children. The real lesson to be learned from this story is that if the government doesn’t like what you’re doing, be prepared for over-regulation and to hand over $2.1 million.


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