The story of Flaming Creatures and the so-called “Fortas Film Festival” illustrates the dialectic of obscenity. When President Johnson nominated Justice Fortas to replace Chief Justice Warren in 1968, Fortas’s opponents investigated his record, hoping to justify a filibuster. Among other things, they discovered Jacobs v. New York, in which Fortas alone voted to reverse obscenity convictions for showing Flaming Creatures, an obscure art film that featured a transvestite orgy. Senator Thurmond showed Flaming Creatures to several senators, convinced them to join the filibuster, and blocked the Fortas nomination. Under the dialectic of obscenity, art protects pornography and pornography protects art. Doctrinally, the protection of art requires the protection of pornography. But politically, the protection of art requires the protection of pornography.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/brianlfrye/2/