Criminally Obscene: Bestiality and Scat Film Producer Sentenced to 4 Years in federal Prison

By: Houston Criminal Lawyer John Floyd and Paralegal Billy Sinclair


Ira Isaacs was sentenced on January 17 to four years in a U.S. district court following a five-count “obscenity” guilty verdict handed down last April by a federal jury. Isaacs, known as a “shock porn artist,” has achieved national and international attention for producing films with titles like Mako’s First Time Scat, Gang Bang Horse (Pony Sex Game), and Hollywood Scat Amateurs. The titles speak for themselves. No elaboration needed. The jury was forced to watch hours of these kinds of videos (mostly females engaged in sex acts involving animals and human feces) in order to reach its decision that they were indeed obscene.   The U.S. Department of Justice Obscenity Prosecution Task Force, which was formed during the George W. Bush Administration to investigate hard-core pornography at the urging of social conservative groups, initiated the prosecution.


In 1973, the U.S. Supreme Court, in Miller v. California, held that the determination of whether material is obscene must be based on (a) “whether ‘the average person, applying contemporary community standards’ would find that the work, taken as a whole, appeals to prurient interest; (b) whether the work depicts or describes, in a patently offensive way, sexual conduct specifically defined by the applicable state law; and (c) whether the work, taken as a whole, lacks serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value.” The Miller court specifically rejected the constitutional standard, which had been advocated by three justices in prior decisions, that material is obscene if it is “utterly without redeeming social value.”


The problem is that “contemporary community standards” are continuously changing, not always in an evolving manner, which makes it difficult to determine which piece of work “lacks serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value.” For example, are the movies Faces of Death, which contained graphic footage of actual, violent deaths  or Saw, which gratuitously depicts graphic violence for the sake of violence, more socially and artistically valuable than Gang Bang Horse (Pony Sex Game? Do “contemporary community standards” accept death and criminal violence as “artistic” while rejecting bestiality as obscene?


Those questions must be answered by each individual. Federal and state governments obviously believe that video depiction of bestiality is obscene, a criminal offense. And a jury agreed with the government. The purpose of this article is not to question either decision. We do not believe animals should be sexually abused any more than we believe human beings should be tortured. Apparently there is a human market for both which confirms the notion that if the human mind has conceived it, some human being has either attempted or done it.


But the underlying issue of these questions is the claim of “individual rights.” Conan LeCilaire (Faces of Death), James Wan (Saw), and Ira Isaacs have one thing in common: each believe they had a First Amendment protected right to make their films. The government, following the lead of Congress, did not accept Isaacs’ claim, and showed him it had the power to regulate his rights.


We have become a society of competing rights: Gun owners believe they have a Second Amendment right to carry their AK-47 into a shopping center while non-gun owners believe they have a right to shop free of potential gun violence; Gay rights advocates believe they have a right to same-sex marriage while many Christian conservatives believe that marriage should only be between a man and a woman; and Pro-Choice advocates believe a woman has a right to make decisions about her own body while Pro-lifers believe the medical procedure is a sin against God’s commandments.


Individual rights advocates, particularly those who adhere to the self-centered notion that their rights are more important than the next person’s, are becoming more intolerant, and even more dangerous, in the exercise of their “rights.” The truth is that all rights, regardless of the constitutional amendment that extends and protects them, are subject to both government regulation and restrictions by “contemporary community standards.” Rights are not “free.” They are paid for with individual responsibility. Individual rights not exercised responsibly inevitably leads to social turmoil.


Thus we come full circle to Ira Isaacs. The filmmaker has a right to make porn movies (and there is a multi-billion dollar demand for them in mainstream America, indicating that many believe they do have artistic value), but that right, at least in this moment in time, does not include depictions of bestiality or human fetishes that shock even the most “open mind.” Some have hailed Isaacs as a First Amendment hero. Some disagree and believe he is just another cheap merchant of human perversion.  Either way, the unanswered question is whether a man should be sent to prison for producing dirty, even disgusting, movies. If so, where do we draw the line, and, more importantly who draws it?


These kinds of cases cautiously inform us that “contemporary community standards” may not have evolved as much as much as some may think they have over the past few decades.  But, thank goodness, in America it is still your “right” to believe otherwise.


By: Houston Criminal Lawyer John Floyd and Paralegal Billy Sinclair
John Floyd is Board Certified in Criminal Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization