I own kiddie porn! AKA Christopher Handley case is truly scary

There is certainly a level of subjectivity, but that’s true of pretty much every crime. We trust prosecutors, judges, juries, and appellate justices to send people to prison for decades, even to take a defendant’s life. I don’t see why that trust disappears when they have to decide whether something meets the constitutional test for obscenity instead of whether a defendant acted recklessly, or intentionally, or other subjective matters. As to the things the OP listed, I have heard not a single one of those ever subjected to obscenity charges, and the mere fact that they are in the same genre (manga) as the one in the Handley case isn’t very persuasive to me that they are now in jeopardy.

Damn good question. I tend to break up my answer into 2 separate thoughts. First, I think obscenity laws are Constitutional. It’s certainly the lawyer in me, but I do not think that the First Amendment protects obscenity, and so the issue is left to the legislative branch. If the majority of people think obscenity should be illegal, then it’s the law. For example, in Miller
(the case, not you) co-case, the Court decided that the legislature did not need to show proof that obscenity causes concrete, immediate harm, just that they believed it does or could.

But, to be honest, that reason is a bit too legalistic to carry the day for me. The main reason I would support banning the things I listed earlier is that those things are repugnant and should be subjected to societal disapproval. Obscenity degrades humanity and serves no useful purpose. It’s only effect is to lessen the humanity of the reader and the people around him. I do believe that people are affected by what they read, what they are willing to spend their money on, and what they obsess over. I find absolutely no redeeming quality to what I consider obscenity, and I do believe that it objectifies people and can harm the social fabric. Finally, since I do think obscenity is both not protected speech and repugnant, I don’t have a huge problem with it being difficult to obtain because of the law.

I completely understand that those reasons are unquantifiable and likely won’t persuade you. The social science surrounding obscenity isn’t determinative one way or another, and I don’t think it is ever likely going to be. And, if it isn’t evident yet, I’m not a huge fan of the laws. Although they may be abused and they should have a very high standard, I do think obscenity laws serve valid purposes and shouldn’t be struck down.

Certain level? On what level is this law not subjective? In most other crimes, there’s at least something objective going on - if it’s a murder case, generally speaking, everyone can at least agree that there’s a dead guy involved at some point.

As a matter of fact, I don’t particularly trust them in those matters. But they’re a necessary evil, because all the alternatives are even worse. Which is one of the chief reasons I think there should be a very high standard of demonstrable harm before you pass a law against something. This is, as you admit, not the case with obscenity.

Of the seven titles JR Brown mentioned owning, only two of them are manga. The issue is clearly not a fear that the government is going to start arresting people for having drawings of people with big eyes and tiny little mouths. The issue is that the law provides no clear standard for what constitutes obscenity. Whether something has artistic or literary merit is a purely arbitrary, entirely subjective decision that has absolutely no factual basis outside the opinion of the person viewing the work of art. And while none of the works she mentioned have been charged with obscenity, surely you recognize that there are other works that have been prosecuted as obscene, right? And at least some of them were not, in fact, obscene? So JR Brown’s fears are not exactly unjustified - the fact the books she mentions haven’t been targeted yet simply means they haven’t come to the attention of someone inclined to target them. It’s not an indication that they’re in any way immune to obscenity charges.

The problem there is that one of the major purposes of the First Amendment, to my mind, is to guarantee people the right to make up their own mind if something is valuable or not. If you create an exception for things you deem “obscene,” you’re circumventing one of the most important purposes of the amendment. And I’m not at all comfortable with the elasticity of that exception, because it ultimately relies on how many people you can get together who are grossed out by the subject. And a lot of stuff that I’m personally interested in has only just recently passed the tipping point on how many people are terminally disgusted by it. While I could cheerfully spend the rest of my life without ever seeing and bestiality scat porn (again) there’s absolutely nothing inherent to your reasoning that could not be applied to, say, gay porn, or regular vanilla porn, or material that is not intended primarily as porn, but has strong explicit content. All it takes is a not-terribly-major social shift back to the right, and these things could slide back into your obscenity exception to the First.