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Breaking News

December 22, 2006: Gay E-zine Writings Honored in Rauxa Erotic Literature Awards. (On Press Releases page.)

September 29, 2006: Webmaster of Site with SM Stories Faces U.S. Federal Charges.

February 20, 2006: New Revelations on John Preston and Drummer editor Tim Barrus.

October 24, 2005: The Facts on Recent FBI Obscenity Raids.

September 2 to October 6, 2005: Hurricane Katrina Report. (Twenty-one articles, listed at the above link.)

August 4, 2005: New M/s and D/s Flag.

News commentaries and news features are also available at this e-zine.

Webmaster of Site with SM Stories Faces U.S. Federal Charges

(September 29, 2006)

A federal raid on a Website that carried sadomasochistic stories has resulted in the prosecution of a 54-year-old Pennsylvania woman, according to a September 27 report in the Associated Press and other news services.

The raid raised concern from the leather community at the time it took place last October 3 because leatherfolk feared this initialed the start of renewed federal prosecution of written matter.

American prosecutions against written matter have been rare since the Supreme Court ruled on this topic in 1966, although isolated incidents have occurred.

The Associated Press reported that Karen Fletcher, the Webmaster of Red Rose Stories, "was charged with one count for each of six stories that involved the kidnapping, torture, sexual molestation and murder of children 9 years and younger."

Ms. Fletcher was charged with obscenity. The federal child pornography law does not cover written material.

The Associated Press noted that any sentence that might occur would be governed by federal sentencing guidelines. Those guidelines provide for harsher sentences for obscene sadomasochistic material than for obscene non-sadomasochistic material.

Federal authorities quoted by the press placed their primary stress on the fact that the stories involved children.

"I can't imagine why anyone would want to write or read stories involving the rape and torture of children," United States Attorney Mary Beth Buchanan was quoted as saying in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. "The law does not prohibit an individual from thinking or writing about their own thoughts within their own home. But when they go beyond that, and distribute that through interstate commerce, then they violate the law."

News of the prosecution was quickly released to the leather community through a news article by Darklady, assistant editor of YNOT, a site for adult Webmasters that heavily covered the Red Rose case last fall. Darklady is a founding member of the Portland Leather Alliance and was Ms. Oregon Leather 2004.


Feds Indict Western Pennsylvania Woman for Child-Torture Stories on Web [Associated Press]

Woman Charged Over "Vile" Web Stories [Pittsburgh Post-Gazette]

U.S. v. Karen Fletcher: Text of the Indictment [AVN]

Child Sex Torture Stories Earn Pennsylvania Woman Federal Obscenity Charges [YNOT]

The Facts on Recent FBI Obscenity Raids. A summary of the situation last October. [True Tales]

New revelations on John Preston and Drummer editor Tim Barrus

(February 20, 2006)

An alternative publication, LA Weekly, has posted an investigative report on Tim Barrus, a former editor of the gay leather magazine Drummer. In it, gay erotica author Lars Eighner discusses the connection between Mr. Barrus and three other authors of gay pornography: John Preston, Steven Saylor, and T. R. Witomski. More information is available in a news item at Topman: Online Writings by and about John Preston.

Topman (Webmastered by the editor of True Tales) has also posted a 1968 announcement of the wedding engagement of John Preston. Preston is best known as the author of the classic leather novel Mr. Benson. He went on to write a number of award-winning mainstream gay books. Preston's fiction is featured in the October 2005 issue of True Tales.

The Facts on Recent FBI Obscenity Raids

(October 24, 2005)

As a result of media reports on a recent FBI anti-obscenity campaign, True Tales has received enquiries as to whether leather and BDSM Websites are in special legal danger. Below are the facts that are presently known.

* On May 5, Assistant Attorney General Christopher A. Wray announced that the United States Department of Justice had established an Obscenity Prosecution Task Force "dedicated to the investigation and prosecution of the distributors of hard-core pornography that meets the test for obscenity, as defined by the United States Supreme Court." No mention of any subject matter of the pornography was made. Several news commentators stated that the information in the press release suggested that the task force would place its primary focus on Internet pornography.

* On September 20, The Washington Post quoted a July 29 electronic memo from FBI headquarters to all field offices as saying, "Based on a review of past successful cases in a variety of jurisdictions [the best odds of conviction come with pornography that] includes bestiality, urination, defecation, as well as sadistic and masochistic behavior."

* Beginning in late September, a number of Websites containing SM material chose to delete that material or shut down, in response to the information in the Washington Post article. Among the Websites to censor themselves have been atruerose.com, kinkygurl.com, leatherquest.com, suicidegirls.com, UnderMySkirt.org, and three related Websites, houseofdesade.org, grandpadesade.com, and     realbdsm.com. Midori's BeautyBound.com shut down as well, because of other U.S. legislation against erotic material.

* According to the adult news service AVN, on October 3 the FBI raided the home office of a part-free, part-subscription Website, Red Rose Stories. It is not known whether this raid was connected with the new anti-obscenity campaign. A recently cached version of the Website shows that Red Rose Stories had both texts and images on it. However, the site's lawyer, Lawrence G. Walters, told True Tales, "The Search Warrant dealt solely with text stories and audio files. No video or images are at issue." Most of the site's sections were devoted to a variety of types of erotic stories, with BDSM stories mixed in with the rest. One section was devoted to underage erotic stories, which were mentioned in the site's meta title. Mr. Walters says, "It is uncertain exactly which stories will/may be charged with obscenity related offenses. We won't know that until the charges are actually filed, if they are filed."

* According to AVN, on October 5, the FBI raided Max World Entertainment in Altadena, California, home of the Max Hardcore pornography videos, known for their "edgy" material. It is not known whether this raid was connected with the new anti-obscenity campaign. AVN reported that the FBI warrant was for five videos and the records of some Websites. Information on the videos that is available on the Web shows that all five videos featured the fantasy abuse of models wearing the clothing and hairstyle of young teenage girls. Max Hardcore later issued a press release denying that the videos featured underaged performers.

* According to various media sources, on October 7 the Webmaster of Now That's Fucked Up, a Website for user-submitted amateur photos, was arrested for obscenity. Chris Wilson of Lakeland, Florida, was arrested by local police after his Website received national attention for permitting U.S. soldiers overseas to post pictures showing war dead. There is no indication that the FBI was involved in this case.

* The FBI has not yet raided the owners of any Websites that label themselves as devoted to SM.

* Not all erotic material is considered obscene by U.S. law. Parts of the federal obscenity law cover both images and text. The federal sentencing guidelines enhance sentences in obscenity cases involving sadomasochistic material.

* Other federal laws also cover erotic material, such as the child pornography law (which deals with images only) and Regulation 2257 (which places bookkeeping requirements on many commercial Websites displaying sexually explicit photos).

* A number of other legislative movements against erotic material have taken place during this same period. The U.S. adult industry is currently fighting against Regulation 2257, a law that helped bring about the demise in June of the long-running gay leather magazine Bound & Gagged. In August, the British Home Office proposed "a new offence of simple possession of extreme pornographic material which is graphic and sexually explicit and which contains serious violence towards women and men." A coalition of British groups, including SM groups, are fighting against the proposed legislation.

* Mr. Walters told True Tales, "The FBI has clearly established an investigatory unit which will prosecute adult websites, and other adult content. Nobody knows what type of content will be targeted. However, the type of content is not the only factor that affects legal exposure. The way in which the content is presented, the context, medium and accompanying material all have an impact. These are complex issues and best handled by an experienced adult entertainment attorney."

* The Free Speech Coalition (an advocate for the adult industry) and the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom (an advocate for the SM-leather-fetish, swing, and polyamory communities) are both running legal campaigns aimed against the wide scope of U.S. federal laws covering erotic material.


The Development of Sadomasochism as a Cultural Style in the Twentieth-Century United States. A Ph.D. dissertation by Robert V. Bienvenu II. Chapter Four looks the U.S. government's war against erotic publications, gay and straight, during the 1950s and 1960s. [American Fetish]

Obscenity Prosecution Task Force Established to Investigate, Prosecute Purveyors of Obscene Materials. May 5. [U.S. Department of Justice]

CCBill: No More Watersports, Violent Content. May 17. About a payment processor's decision to revise its acceptable use policy. [AVN]

Remarks of John C. Richter, Acting Assistant Attorney General (PDF file). HTML version. May 19. The script for a speech given at the Summit on Pornography: Obscenity Enforcement, Corporate Participation, and Violence Against Women and Children. Describes the new task force. [U.S. Department of Justice]

Prepared Remarks of Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales at the National Press Club. May 20. Includes brief remarks on the new task force. [U.S. Department of Justice]

The Pace and Tempo Quickens: Chronology of the Emerging Porn Offense. May 23. [YNOT]

Think Ahead of the Bust. June 8. On measures that the adult industry could take in response to the Obscenity Prosecution Task Force. [AVN]

U.S. Attorney's Porn Fight Gets Bad Reviews. August 30. [Law.com]

Federal Government Renews Effort to Curb Porn. September 17. A radio report. [NPR]

Recruits Sought for Porn Squad. September 20. [The Washington Post]

It's Time to Confront the Real Terror Threat - Porn. September 30. Humorous commentary. [Pittsburgh Tribune-Review]

Feds' Anti-Porn Push Prompts Suicidegirls.com to Take Down Photos, Pissing Off the Models. October 5. [Willamette Week Online]

Bush, Gonzales, Keep Word, Feds Raid Porn Producer Max Hardcore. October 5. [YNOT]

Second FBI Raid This Week: Erotic Stories Website Hit, Apparently Over Obscenity. October 7. [YNOT]

Some Members of BDSM Community Self-Censoring, Citing Obscenity Prosecution Fears. October 12. Includes commentary on whether it is likely that the FBI will target BDSM material. [YNOT]

YNOT News. News on the adult industry, including the recent FBI campaign.

AVN. News on the adult industry, including the recent FBI campaign.

Max Harcore.

Now That's Fucked Up.

Free Chris Wilson. A Website devoted to advocacy for the Webmaster of nowthatsfuckedup.com. Includes links to news articles and information on the Chris Wilson Defense Fund.

Red Rose Stories.

Red Rose Stories Defense Fund. [Red Rose Stories]

Free Speech Coalition.

National Coalition for Sexual Freedom.

U.S. Federal Obscenity Law. [Legal Information Institute]

Federal Sentence Guidelines: Obscenity. Skip down to "if the offense involved material". [U.S. Sentencing Commission]

Free Resources for Adult Webmasters. Advice on keeping your Website legal. From the Website of the lawyer for Chris Wilson and for Red Rose Stories. [Lawrence G. Walters, Esq.]

Materials on Section 2257. [xxxlaw.net]

On the Possession of Extreme Pornographic Material. The British Home Office's consultation paper. [Scottish Executive]

Backlash. A coalition of British groups fighting proposed legislation against "extreme pornographic material."

Hurricane Katrina Report

(September 2 to October 6, 2005)

Hurricane Katrina Report (twenty-one articles, listed at the above link).

New M/s and D/s Flag

(August 4, 2005)

Flag: Black field surrounded by white border, with red stripes.

Design by Master Tallen. Graphic design by slave andrew. Image courtesy of Master Tallen and slave andrew.

A proposed flag meant to represent the Master/slave and Dominant/submissive lifestyles was unveiled at the Master/slave Conference 2005 in Washington, D.C., on July 29.

The flag was designed by Master Tallen of Washington, D.C., with the graphic design by his slave, andrew, also of D.C. Girl Nancy Thompson of Lifestyle Sewing produced the first flag, which was displayed on the conference's stage throughout the weekend.

Attendees at the conference were offered bumper stickers of the flag. The accompanying label reads:

"This symbol is offered as a representation of the Dominant/submissive or Master/slave Lifestyle. This simplistic design was created by combining established ideogrammic symbols. The vertical stripe is a universal symbol meaning power or dominance. The set of three horizontal stripes is a universal symbol meaning passive or submissive. The flag is a basic black with a white border. The Dom/sub symbols are in red and in the center. The intent was to create a symbol that represents the foundation of the Master/slave dynamic which is Dominance and submissiveness.

"The Master/slave Community has its roots in the Leather Community, and it can be said that many in the M/s community are content identifying with only the Leather Flag. There is no intent to denounce our roots, and the Leather Flag will continue to fly proudly in the hearts of those in the Master/slave community. However, the time has come for this community to have its own universal symbol of pride and unity. With the community's acceptance, it is hoped that this proposed design will be adopted as that symbol."

More information on the flag and on the Master/slave Conference 2005 will appear in the August issue of True Tales.

Update, August 8: Articles on the M/s and D/s flag and on the Master/slave Conference 2005 are now online in the August issue

Flag image copyright © 2005 Master Tallen Leather CORPS. The copyright owner permits free use of the image.

Text copyright © 2005 Dusk Peterson. All rights reserved.

Permission is granted to reprint the articles on this page, provided that credit is given to True Tales: An Erotic E-zine of Masculinity and Power, and a link is provided back to truetales.org.

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