Friday, December 11, 2009

Would you transport this woman across state lines for immoral purposes?

I do love the Mann Act. It's such a beautiful and ridiculous expression of moral panic -- like a Time cover-story, but, instead of an article, a federal law. It jumped the shark a little bit in 1986 when "immoral purposes" was redefined as "any sexual activity for which any person can [already] be charged with a criminal offense [which defeats the purpose a bit, doesn't it?]," but back when consensual sex could be considered white slavery, the Mann Act was really something else.

However, despite my love for the law that nailed him, I'm sad that Jack Johnson is not going to get a posthumous pardon recommendation from the Justice Department.

In Justice's defense, Johnson didn't just sleep with Belle Schreiber; he gave her several thousand dollars to start her own brothel in Chicago after she got fired by her Pittsburgh madam for robbing a customer. The feds may have been wrong to target Johnson, but they kinda had him cold.

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