【2004/05/29 Taipei Times】
By Jimmy Chuang
MORAL DILEMMA: Josephine Ho finally had her day in court, wasting no time in slamming prosecutors and warning them that her case is being watched overseas
National Central University English professor Josephine Ho (何春蕤) has given many lectures in her career, but this one was a little different: the audience was three Taipei District court judges, hearing her defense against charges of offenses against morality, and the topic was prosecutorial bungling.
According to Prosecutor Yu Hsiu-duan’s (俞秀端) indictment, Ho posted a link to “Beast Love,” a Web site detailing intercourse between humans and animals, on the Web page of the university’s Center for the Study of Sexuality, where Ho has served as director for four years.
The site, which features graphic images and a manual on how to have sex with animals, has sparked a debate on the occasionally fine line between pornography and academic research.
Ho, with her lawyer beside her, said the indictment was flawed and that after five hearings she could finally defend herself. She said she would take advantage of this one chance to speak to highlight “mistakes” in the indictment.
“You can find us on the Ministry of Education’s Web site … These offices should therefore be indicted as well, since they were also distributing pornographic information, am I right?.”
Josephine Ho, National Central University English professor
“The indictment shows an arrogant attitude and disrespect toward academic research and myself on the part of the prosecutors. Your honors may not be able to believe that, in a contentious case such as this, there are typographical errors in the indictment,” Ho said.
Ho told judges Chou Tzu-min (周祖民), Fan Chi-da (范智達) and Huang Ya-chun (黃雅君) that prosecutors did not examine the case from an academic point of view when they were drafting the indictment, and that the indictment misrepresented what she had done.
“[The prosecutors] said I posted these pornographic pictures on my university Web site. Well, I didn’t — we only provided the link to another Web site rather than posting their pictures,” she said. “The two sets of circumstances are different, are they not?”
Regarding an allegation that Ho had distributed pornographic material by posting the link, Ho said that if this were to be sustained, then the government’s educational authorities should have been implicated as well.
“My Web site was not the only one that provided a path to this pornographic site. Everyone knows you can find us on the Ministry of Education’s Web site by linking to the university and then us. According to the prosecutors’ logic, these offices should therefore be indicted as well, since they were also distributing pornographic information, am I right?” Ho said.
Prosecutors also said Ho’s Web site should have screened users wanting to link to the bestiality Web site. Ho said this requirement was ridiculous.
“If we screened our visitors, then this would not be `academic research’ because academic research is open to all people. Quite clearly, these prosecutors don’t have the first clue what `academic research’ is,” Ho said.
The case surfaced when a group of activists, lawyers, teachers and parents, led by Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Tseng Tsai Mei-tsuo (曾蔡美佐), filed suit against Ho last June 23.
Ho told the court she had received support from “professors from more than 35 countries” and that they were waiting to see how the judiciary handled the case.
Ho was charged with violating Article 235 of the Criminal Code, which says, “A person who distributes, sells, publicly displays, or by other means shows to another person indecent writing, drawing, or other [work] shall be punished.”
Prosecutors have not recommended any sentence for Ho in the event of her conviction. Chou said that a judgement would be handed down at 11am on June 25.
Ho said she was very confident about the result and was planning to attend that hearing in person.