The Talking Dog

June 11, 2008, "It's Part of Life"

"It's part of life" is Ninth Circuit Chief Judge Alex Kozinski's explanation for "sexually explicit material" apparently found on a web-site maintained by... him. Kozinski is a rock-ribbed Republican. He is, for example, the judge for whom Volokh Conspiracy's Eugene Volokh clerked. Let's face it, were he anything but an arch-conservative jurist, it would be his own party calling for his resignation or impeachment, if not an outright auto-de-fe. But he is, so they're not... anyway... from the WSJ piece...

Kozinski, 57, acknowledged in an interview with the LAT that he had posted the materials, which included a photo of a naked women on all fours painted to look like cows and a video of a half-dressed man cavorting with a sexually aroused farm animal. Some of the material was inappropriate, he conceded, although he defended other sexually explicit content as “funny.”

The man sounds like a freaking riot. In all seriousness, he has a reputation as a fair and thoughtful judge, and as a hilarious man (his thick German accent apparently just adds to the fun; I understand he once appeared on "The Dating Game"). But this "sexually explicit" stuff kind of sounds... a tad disturbing. And of course, he happens to be a federal judge sitting on an obscenity trial right now!

Frankly, Judge Kozinski suggested that he was not aware the site was publicly accessible: he saved this particular stuff for his... personal interest. Unfortunately, it's the internet age, and thanks to Judge Kozinski's political party, none of us seem to have any privacy rights at all from an ever more prying state (particularly if the words "national security" are invoked, and even more so if invoked without justification). I'm really not interested in Judge K.'s personal fetishes... but I tend to think that the John Ashcrofts and Michael Mukaseys and David Addingtons and Dick Cheneys... and Rupert Murdochs... are interested... and that's what makes this all so interesting.

Nothing will likely come of this... Judge Kozinski has life-time tenure, and he will not be removed from office over this trivial matter-- but only because of the "IOKIYAAR" rule... heaven help him and us all were he, say, regarded as some kind of "progressive." The ultimate significance of this, of course, is that in the internet age, more and more of us will post more and more disturbing details of our lives (or post things we later come to regret posting, or even just download something embarrassing), and our ever more vigilant and prying government will be there to use them against us... when politically expedient. And most of us won't have the stature (let alone Constitutional job protection) of a Judge Kozinski to withstand that kind of onslaught.

And that... is "part of life."

Update: At the prosecutor's request, Judge Kozinski has granted a 48 hour "suspension" of the criminal trial of filmmaker Ira Isaacs on obscenity charges while the judge's "possible conflict" is considered.