The Blogora: The Rhetoric Society of America


Free Speech or "Private, Family Speech"

Submitted by syntaxfactory on December 10, 2012 - 7:45am

I am not a Free Speech person -- I mean, as a scholar. So this category of "Private, Family Speech' is new to me. Can anyone help?

A Minnesota coach was arrested for child pornography for owning videos described this way:
"A one-minute video created on June 26 showed [his] three children, one boy and two girls, with their backs to the camera and covered by towels, the complaint said. They drop the towels and turn toward the camera, exposing themselves. The boy allegedly fondles himself and the girls allegedly bend over and expose their anuses to the camera."

Charges were dropped. The judges' dismissal: "It is private, family speech of a most uniquely personal kind which the state can neither inhibit nor sanction."

Little help?

For more info:

Submitted by Brett Lunceford (not verified) on December 10, 2012 - 2:10pm.

Nudity itself is not considered obscene (or even necessarily sexual) in the eyes of the law, but this seems a bit odd. When children are concerned, there is no such thing as "private, protected" speech. There is a long history of taking photos of kids in the bath, etc. (yeah, there are some of me out there and probably of you too!), but this seems to be a bit beyond that. Without seeing the video, it would be hard to ascertain whether this was problematic. Children can be silly, and I am reminded of a friends recent facebook post that described how her three year old declared that it was time for naked dancing and proceeded to frolic around the living room. Still, this seems to up the creepy factor significantly.

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