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LEGISLATIVE LOBBY IN AUSTIN
HUMAN RIGHTS ADVOCATES
"created lo insure a voice in our fa lure"
TEXAS GAY TASK FORCE
THIS NOTE IS NOT LEGAL TENDER
STOKT OM PAGE THREE
PORN LAW HITS AUSTIN
Travis County prosecutors spent five
years attempting to determine a "community
standard" in pornography cases. It was an
exercise in futility. Now, armed with a
tougher state pornography law, County Attorney Jim McMurtry is trying again.
On November 16, police arrested Roy Stam-
baugh at the Pleasure Shoppe, 603 W. Oltorf
St., and Fred Dougherty at the Adult Theatre,
3401-A N. IH 35, on sealed indictments. One
case deals with picture magazines and the
other with sexual devices, which are included for the first time under the new state
statute. The county will also try to prove
a case against a corporation distributing
obscene material, another new provision.
Although the decision here has been to
first test community standards, that hasn't
been the case elsewhere, McMurtry said. "In
other jurisdictions. . .they are seizing
everything in the stores, and when they are
restocked, they're raided again." The biggest
crackdowns have been in Houston and Dallas.
McMurtry said the last three obscenity
trials in Austin resulted in mistrials, with
the 18 jurors on the three panels split 9 to
9 on the issue. When the jury on the last case
in 1977 deadlocked, Travis County prosecutors
gave up. The cases "are very time consuming—
for preparation and for the courts. They're
different from what our attorneys are usually
trying so we have to invest about 100 hours
of attorney time to prepare for one," McMurtry
said. So, he advised Police Chief Frank Dyson
he would recommend no more arrests or trials
until society, the law, or distribution procedures changed.
Some things have changed in the past 2 1/2
years, McMuetry believes. "The material is
as offensive now as it was then, but the shops
have moved out, closer to the neighborhoods.
And, I.think society has changed. A few years
ago, society was more interested in preserving
individual liberties, but now it is more concerned with its own protection. The initial
thrust of our effort will be to test the community to see if they're willing to tolerate
this type of thing."
McMuertry is well aware of the difficulties
in finding a jury that will return a guilty
verdict. "Most people living in Austin moved
here from somewhere else, bringing their own
ideas. We have a large Mexican-American and
black community with their own idea of obscenity. We have a large population of well-
educated people and a larger liberal population than anywhere else in the state. Then
there's a large segment of religious people,
and they are by and large interested in imposing morals through the law. We have people
with no religious beliefs, including the
world's leading atheist."
"But we don't have.anybody who is your
typical Austinite. And when you don't have
people of similar backgrounds, it's difficult to determine a community standard—if
not impossible'.' Still, he's going to try.
The new state law defines as "obscene"
any material or performance that:
—the average person, applying contemporary community standards, would find that
taken as a whole appeals to the prurient interest in sex and lacks serious literary,
artistic, political and scientific value;
—depicts or describes patently offensive representations or descriptions of ultimate sexual acts, normal or perverted, actual or simulated, including sexual intercourse, sodomy and bestiality.
—shows or describes patently offensive
pictures or descriptions of masturbation,
excretory functions, sadism, masochism, lewd
exhibition of the genitalia, aroused male or
female genitalia, covered male genitals in a-
discernibly turgid state, or any device,
designed and marketed for the stimulation of