When Tammy Robinson called Polk County sheriffs to complain about threatening e-mail she had received, the police were courteous and helpful. So she was surprised when they returned to her home and seized her computers, her children's computer, her dresses -- even her vibrators.
Robinson maintains an adult website under the name Beckalynn, on which she is pictured posing nude. The raid was a result of police bringing pictures of Robinson to a judge, and the judge finding probable cause that a jury could find them obscene. She and her husband have been charged with selling sexually oriented photos and a video of themselves to an Internet network.
The matter raises profound questions about the meaning of the "community standards" clause of U.S. obscenity law in a world where a computer in Amsterdam can deliver a photo to Orlando in 10 seconds. "Currently there are obscenity laws on the books for books and magazines," says her attorney, David Wasserman. "I do not believe they are appropriate to apply to the web. ... We'd have to go around kidnapping people and bringing them here for trial."
For now, a federal civil-rights lawsuit is just a threat. But Robinson's First Amendment page recently turned up featured on the Best Political Site of the Day, a widely read political chronicle. "I'm not only fighting for my rights, but everyone else's as well," Robinson says on her site, which adds, "You have a RIGHT to see me naked."