Careful What You Write: Text Is Now Obscene In The US

A disturbing development in US free speech law – you can now be prosecuted for writing “obscene text.”

Author Karen Fletcher was arrested a couple of years ago for offering explicit stories about child torture and sex on her members-only website. Today she has decided to plead guilty to obscenity charges, saying she has agoraphobia and doesn’t want to contest the case in public.

So… this is one of these things where Voltaire’s attribute quote comes in handy: “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”


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The idea that a person may want to write explicit sex stories involving children is abhorrent to me and most people. It’s not a nice idea that this is pandering to pedophiles either. Nonetheless, the fact remains that this woman has been prosecuted for something she wrote. Just words. A made up story that takes place only in the imagination.

How long until the US government starts prosecuting other story writers? If text can now be classified as obscene… where does it end? Who’s to say what is obscene?

Take, for example, the book Clan of the Cave Bear. That book contains a scene of child rape, and there’s a fair bit of violence as well. Is it obscene? Consider that a pedophile may well read that particular scene and get off on it. Should we censor that book and prosecute the author because it may be read by less-than-savoury persons?

This amounts to prosecution for thought crime.

We had a thought crime incident in Australia the other day:

Counter-terrorism police yesterday raided the homes of two Sydney men with allegedly extremist Islamic views to “send a message” they were being closely watched and dissuade them from any plans to engage in a terrorist act. – SMH

Wow, I feel so much safer now. Doubleplusgood.

Here’s AVN’s admittedly biased article about the Karen Fletcher case.