Private Writings and the First Amendment

The Case of Brian Dalton

The protections of the First Amendment do not extend to certain types of speech such as obscenity, child pornography, and incitement of illegal conduct. Recently, Ohio convicted Brian Dalton for creating and pos-sessing a personal diary containing violent sexual fantasies involving children. He was found to have violated an Ohio statute prohibiting the creation or publication of obscene material involving minors even though there was no indication that he intended to publish the diary and no cer-tainty that he would engage in the described acts.This note examines the application of obscenity, child pornography, and incitement law to the regulation of private, written materials. The author argues that current obscenity, child pornography, and incitement juris-prudence should not be expanded to cover the contents of the personal writings of pedophiles. Instead, the author notes that states can use civil commitment to protect the public from many sexual predators whose writ-ings evidence a strong propensity to commit violent sexual acts.

The full text of this Note is available to download as a PDF.