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Encyclopedia > Obscenity

Obscenity in Latin obscenus, meaning "foul, repulsive, detestable", (possibly derived from ob caenum, literally "from filth"). The term is most often used in a legal context to describe expressions (words, images, actions) that offend the prevalent sexual morality of the time. Image File history File links Gnome-globe. ... Latin is an ancient Indo-European language originally spoken in Latium, the region immediately surrounding Rome. ... Equality and the balancing of interests under law is symbolised by a blindfold and weighing scales For other senses of this word, see Law (disambiguation). ... This article needs to be cleaned up to conform to a higher standard of quality. ...


Despite its long formal and informal use with a sexual connotation, the word still retains the meanings of "inspiring disgust" and even "inauspicious; ill-omened", as in such uses as "obscene profits", "the obscenity of war", and the like. It can simply be used to mean profanity, or it can mean anything that is taboo, indecent, abhorrent, or disgusting. Human sexuality is the expression of sexual feelings. ... Profit, from Latin meaning to make progress, is defined in two different ways. ... Look up war in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... Look up Profanity in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... A taboo is a strong social prohibition (or ban) against words, objects, actions, discussions, or people that are considered undesirable by a group, culture, or society. ...


The definition of obscenity differs from culture to culture, between communities within a single culture, and also between individuals within those communities. Many cultures have produced laws to define what is considered to be obscene, and censorship is often used to try to suppress or control materials that are obscene under these definitions, usually including, but not limited to pornographic material. Because the concept of obscenity is often ill-defined, it can be used as a political tool to try to restrict freedom of expression. Thus, the definition of obscenity can be a civil liberties issue. Culture (from the [[Latin)) cultura stemming from colere, meaning to cultivate), generally refers to patterns of human activity and the symbolic structures that give such activity significance. ... A community usually refers to a group of people who interact and share certain things as a group, but it can refer to various collections of organisms sharing an environment, plant or animal. ... Equality and the balancing of interests under law is symbolised by a blindfold and weighing scales For other senses of this word, see Law (disambiguation). ... Censorship is the removal of information from the public, or the prevention of circulation of information, where it is desired or felt best by some controlling group or body that others are not allowed to access the information which is being censored. ... Pornographic movies Pornography (Porn) (from Greek πόρνη (porne) prostitute and γραφή (grafe) writing), more informally referred to as porn or porno, is the explicit representation of the human body or sexual activity with the goal of sexual arousal. ... Politics is the process by which decisions are made within groups. ... Civil liberties is the name given to freedoms that protect the individual from government. ...

Contents

United States obscenity law

The United States has constitutional protection for freedom of speech, which is not interpreted to protect every utterance. The Supreme Court has found that, when used in the context of the First Amendment, the word "obscenity" means material that deals with sex. This article or section does not cite its references or sources. ... The Supreme Court Building, Washington, D.C. The Supreme Court Building, Washington, D.C., (large image) The Supreme Court of the United States, located in Washington, D.C., is the highest court (see supreme court) in the United States; that is, it has ultimate judicial authority within the United States... The first ten Amendments to the U.S. Constitution make up the Bill of Rights. ... This article or section does not cite its references or sources. ...


A distinction is sometimes made between erotic art and pornography (which also depicts scenes of love-making and is intended to evoke erotic arousal, but is not considered art by some). However, no such objective distinction actually exists. The difference between erotic art and pornography is subjective, and like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder. Pornographic movies Pornography (Porn) (from Greek πόρνη (porne) prostitute and γραφή (grafe) writing), more informally referred to as porn or porno, is the explicit representation of the human body or sexual activity with the goal of sexual arousal. ... Eroticism is an aesthetic focused on sexual desire, especially the feelings of anticipation of sexual activity. ...


For instance, Justice Potter Stewart of the Supreme Court of the United States, in attempting to explain "hard-core" pornography, or what is obscene, famously wrote, "I shall not today attempt further to define the kinds of material I understand to be embraced . . . [b]ut I know it when I see it . . . ."[1] Justice Potter Stewart Potter Stewart (January 23, 1915 – December 7, 1985) was an Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court. ... The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) is the highest judicial body in the United States and leads the judicial branch of the United States federal government. ...


However, in the United States, the 1973 ruling of the Supreme Court of the United States in Miller v. California established a three-tiered test to determine what was obscene - and thus not protected, versus what was merely erotic and thus protected by the First Amendment. The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) is the highest judicial body in the United States and leads the judicial branch of the United States federal government. ... Holding Obscene materials are defined as those that the average person, applying contemporary community standards, find, taken as a whole, appeal to the prurient interest; that depict or describe, in a patently offensive way, sexual conduct specifically defined by applicable state law; and that, taken as a whole, lack serious... The Miller test is the United States Supreme Courts test for determining whether speech or expression can be labeled obscene, in which case it is not protected by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution and can be prohibited. ... The first ten Amendments to the U.S. Constitution make up the Bill of Rights. ...


Delivering the opinion of the court, Chief Justice Warren Burger wrote, Warren Burger at a press conference in May 1969 shortly after he was nominated to be Chief Justice of the United States. ...

The basic guidelines for the trier of fact must be: (a) whether 'the average person, applying contemporary community standards' would find that the work, taken as a whole, appeals to the prurient interest, (b) whether the work depicts or describes, in a patently offensive way, sexual conduct specifically defined by the applicable state law; and (c) whether the work, taken as a whole, lacks serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value.[2]

In U.S. legal texts, therefore, the question of "obscenity" presently always refers to this "Miller test obscenity". The Supreme Court has ruled that it is constitutional to legally limit the sale, transport for personal use (U.S. v. Extreme Associates) or other transmission of obscenity, but that it is unconstitutional to pass laws concerning the personal possession of obscenity per se. Federal obscenity laws at present apply to inter-state and foreign obscenity issues such as distribution; intra-state issues are for the most part still governed by state law. "Obscene articles... are generally prohibited entry" to the United States by U.S. Customs and Border Protection.[3] The Miller test is the United States Supreme Courts test for determining whether speech or expression can be labeled obscene, in which case it is not protected by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution and can be prohibited. ... U.S. v. ... U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), a bureau of the United States Department of Homeland Security, is charged with regulating and facilitating international trade, collecting import duties, and enforcing U.S. trade laws. ...


Obscenity v. Indecency

Main article: Indecency

The differentiation between indecent and obscene material is a particularly difficult one, and a contentious First Amendment issue that has not fully been settled. Similarly, the level of offense (if any) generated by a profane word or phrase depends on region, context, and audience. A dictionary definition of Indecent not conforming with accepted standards of behaviour or morality. ... A dictionary definition of Indecent not conforming with accepted standards of behaviour or morality. ... Obscenity has several connotations. ... The first ten Amendments to the U.S. Constitution make up the Bill of Rights. ... Look up Profanity in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ...


Recent obscenity cases in the US

In September 2005 a further attack on sexual material came as an FBI "Anti-Porn Squad" was formed, which has initially targeted for prosecution websites such as Red Rose Stories (www.red-rose-stories.com, now defunct), one of many sites providing text-only fantasy stories. Other sites such as BeautyBound, run by Midori, a prominent BDSM teacher and author on Japanese bondage, have closed down despite not being targeted, due to these risks and legislative burdens.[citation needed] 2005 : January - February - March - April - May - June - July - August - September - October - November - December- → Deaths in September September 28 : Constance Baker Motley September 25 : M. Scott Peck September 25 : Don Adams September 20 : Simon Wiesenthal September 14 : Robert Wise September 10 : Hermann Bondi September 8 : Donald Horne September 7 : Moussa Arafat... The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is a Federal police force which is the principal investigative arm of the United States Department of Justice (DOJ). ... Book cover for Wild Side Sex: The Book of Kink with photos by Steve Diet Goedde Book cover for The Seductive Art of Japanese Bondage with Dita Von Teese in bondage Book cover for Master Hans Daughter: Tales of Depraved NeoTokyo with Midori photographed by Michele Serchuk Midori is... A collar is a common symbol in BDSM. BDSM is any of a number of related patterns of human sexual behavior. ... Shibari ) is a Japanese verb that literally means to tie or to bind it is used in Japan to describe the artful use of twine to tie objects or packages. ...


Past standards

These standards were once used to determine exactly what was obscene. All have been invalidated, overturned, or superseded by the Miller Test. The Miller test is the United States Supreme Courts test for determining whether speech or expression can be labeled obscene, in which case it is not protected by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution and can be prohibited. ...

  • Hicklin test: the effect of isolated passages upon the most susceptible persons. (British common law, cited in Regina v. Hicklin, 1868. LR 3 QB 360 - overturned when Michigan tried to outlaw all printed matter that would 'corrupt the morals of youth' in Butler v. State of Michigan 352 U.S. 380 (1957))
  • Wepplo: If material has a substantial tendency to deprave or corrupt its readers by inciting lascivious thoughts or arousing lustful desires. (People v. Wepplo, 78 Cal.App.2d Supp. 959, 178 P.2d 853).
  • Roth Standard: "Whether to the average person applying contemporary community standards, the dominant theme of the material, taken as a whole, appeals to the prurient interest". Roth v. United States 354 U.S. 476 (1957) - overturned by Miller
  • Roth-Jacobellis: "community standards" applicable to an obscenity are national, not local standards. Material is "utterly without redeeming social importance". Jacobellis v. Ohio 378 US 184 (1964) - famous quote: "I shall not today attempt further to define [hardcore pornography] ...But I know it when I see it".
  • Roth-Jacobellis-Memoirs Test: Adds that the material possesses "not a modicum of social value". (A Book Named John Cleland's Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure v. Attorney General of Massachusetts, 383 U.S. 413 (1966))

Under FCC rules and federal law, radio stations and over-the-air television channels cannot air obscene material at any time and cannot air indecent material between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m.: language or material that, in context, depicts or describes, in terms patently offensive as measured by contemporary community standards for the broadcast medium, sexual or excretory organs or activities (indecency is less intense than obscenity). In general use, lascivious is synonymous with lustful. ... Prurient is the nom de plume of noise musician Dominik Fernow. ... Roth v. ... Holding The First Amendment, as applied through the Fourteenth, protected a movie theatre manager from being prosecuted for possessing and showing a film that was not obscene. ... Memoirs v. ... The FCCs official seal. ... Excretion is the biological process by which an organism separates waste products from its body. ...


Many historically important works have been described as obscene, or prosecuted under obscenity laws. For example, the works of Charles-Pierre Baudelaire, Lenny Bruce, William S. Burroughs, James Joyce, D. H. Lawrence, Henry Miller, the words "piss" and "erection" in the UK 1950s premier of Samuel Beckett's play Waiting for Godot, and the Marquis de Sade. Charles Baudelaire Charles Pierre Baudelaire (April 9, 1821–August 31, 1867) was one of the most influential French poets. ... Lenny Bruce (October 13, 1925 – August 3, 1966), born Leonard Alfred Schneider, was a controversial American stand-up comedian, writer, social critic and satirist of the 1950s and 1960s. ... William Seward Burroughs II (1914 – August 2, 1997), more commonly known as William S. Burroughs, was an American novelist, essayist, social critic, painter and spoken word performer. ... James Joyce James Augustine Aloysius Joyce (Irish Seamus Seoighe; 2 February 1882 – 13 January 1941) was an Irish writer and poet, widely considered to be one of the most influential writers of the 20th century. ... D.H. Lawrence at age 21 (1906) David Herbert Lawrence (11 September 1885 – 2 March 1930) was an important and controversial English writer of the 20th century, with his output spanning novels, short stories, poems, plays, essays, travel books, paintings, translations, literary criticism and personal letters. ... Henry Miller photo taken by Carl Van Vechten, 1940 Henry Valentine Miller (December 26, 1891 – June 7, 1980) was an American writer and, to a lesser extent, painter. ... Look up piss, pissed, take the piss in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... The erection of the penis, clitoris or a nipple is its enlarged and firm state. ... // Recovering from World War II and its aftermath, the economic miracle emerged in West Germany and Italy. ... Samuel Barclay Beckett (13 April 1906 – 22 December 1989) was an Irish dramatist, novelist and poet. ... Vladimir (left) and Estragon (right) hold Pozzo aloft (from a production by Naqshineh Theatre). ... Portrait of the Marquis de Sade by Charles-Amédée-Philippe van Loo (c. ...


U.S. activity and court cases dealing with obscenity

  • In Miller v. California, the Supreme Court ruled that materials were obscene if they appealed, “to a prurient interest,” showed “patently offensive sexual conduct” that was specifically defined by a state obscenity law, and “lacked serious artistic, literary, political, or scientific value.” Decisions regarding whether material was obscene should be based on local, not national, standards.
  • In Reno v. ACLU, the Supreme Court struck down indecency laws applying to the Internet, which casts serious doubt on Congress's ability to pass such wide-ranging regulation banning "indecent" speech on communications technologies that enter the home.
  • FCC v. Pacifica is better known as the landmark “seven dirty words” case. In that 1978 ruling, the Justices found that only “repetitive and frequent” use of the words in a time or place when a minor could hear can be punished.
  • In 1998 a jury in St. Tammany Parish, New Orleans convicted Christine Brenan of "promoting obscene devices". They gave her a two-year suspended sentence, five years of probation and a fine of $1,500. The 1st Circuit Court of Appeals later struck down the law, ruling it unconstitutionally vague.
  • The 1999 Law and Government of Alabama (Ala. Code. § 13A-12-200.1) made it "unlawful to produce, distribute or otherwise sell sexual devices that are marketed primarily for the stimulation of human genital organs." Alabama claimed that these products were obscene, and that there was "no fundamental right to purchase a product to use in pursuit of having an orgasm. The ACLU challenged the statute, which was overturned in 2002. A federal judge reinstated the law in 2004.
  • In 2000 a jury in Provo, UT found Larry Peterman not guilty on obscenity charges, as the defense showed that residents of the town were disproportionately large consumers of the very materials Peterman was selling. (See Provo, UT)
  • On 2005-01-20, in United States v. Extreme Associates, it was initially ruled that the statutes against the distribution of obscenity are unconstitutional. However this was overturned on appeal, the Appeal court ruling that what was protected was "a right to a protective zone ensuring the freedom of a man’s inner life", and noting a previous ruling in which higher courts "declined to equate the privacy of the home relied on in Stanley with a 'zone of privacy' that follows a distributor or a consumer of obscene materials wherever he goes." It also ruled that the lower court erred in attempting to overturn a Supreme Court ruling, which was reserved for the Supreme Court itself to do. It is unknown at this time if there will be an appeal of this latest ruling.
  • On or around 2005-10-03, Red Rose Stories, a website providing a wide range of everyday and more extreme erotic stories , was raided in the owner's absence by the FBI's recently founded 'Anti-Porn Squad'. Until this time, written stories alone had not been a target for any obscenity case. Rose posted an open letter on the website stating that "I am being charged with 'OBSCENITIES' and face a minimum term of 3 years in a federal prison. Our stories are NOT protected speech. Please, please, be careful out there. When it comes to free speech SEX STORIES are NOT covered. The ONLY legal sex stories are those that involve a man and a woman, consenting to MISSIONARY POSITION SEX, in a dark room ... They are trying to say fantasy stories are illegal." [2]. Also, "it appears the Porn Squad has been told that the best possibility of prosecution includes golden showers, scat ... and BDSM along with other fringe fetishes... [the US] government is not targeting kiddie porn only" [3]. No indictment or official prosecution has yet been announced, however the case is seen as a potential landmark in US approaches to sexually explicit material. It seems possible that the basis of any legal case would be inter-state distribution (via the internet) of obscene material (but see Extreme Associates, above).
  1. "Beginning in late September 2005, a number of Websites containing SM material chose to delete that material or shut down, in response to the information in the Washington Post article. Among the Websites to censor themselves have been atruerose.com, kinkygurl.com, leatherquest.com, suicidegirls.com, UnderMySkirt.org, and three related Websites, houseofdesade.org, grandpadesade.com, and realbdsm.com. Midori's BeautyBound.com shut down as well, because of other U.S. legislation against erotic material."
  2. "According to various media sources, on 2005-10-07 the Webmaster of Now That's Fucked Up, a Website for user-submitted amateur photos, was arrested for obscenity... after his Website received national attention for permitting U.S. soldiers overseas to post pictures showing war dead. There is no indication that the FBI was involved in this case."
  • In April 2006, the four main US television networks and some 800 affiliated stations, sued the Federal Communications Commission which had recently increased in great measure both the strictness of its obscenity rules, and the penalties associated with sexual language. The networks claim that the FCC outstepped both its authority and precedent, that the old rules were drafted for a time when expectations were tighter and choice more limited, that they are hindered by rules not applicable to the hundreds of other stations available now, and that the changes were unconstitutional. [4]

Holding Obscene materials are defined as those that the average person, applying contemporary community standards, find, taken as a whole, appeal to the prurient interest; that depict or describe, in a patently offensive way, sexual conduct specifically defined by applicable state law; and that, taken as a whole, lack serious... In Reno v. ... St. ... New Orleans is the largest city in the state of Louisiana, United States of America. ... // Executive The Alabama Executive branch consists of the governor, currently Bob Riley, the Cabinet, and the executive staff. ... The American Civil Liberties Union, or ACLU, is a non_governmental organization devoted to defending civil rights and civil liberties in the United States. ... Provo is a Utah city about 50 miles south of Salt Lake City. ... Provo is a Utah city about 50 miles south of Salt Lake City. ... 2005 (MMV) was a common year starting on Saturday of the Gregorian calendar. ... January 20 is the 20th day of the year in the Gregorian calendar. ... Robert D. Zicari a. ... Constitutionality is the status of a law, procedure, or act being in accordance with the laws or guidelines contained in a constitution. ... 2005 (MMV) was a common year starting on Saturday of the Gregorian calendar. ... October 3 is the 276th day of the year (277th in leap years) in the Gregorian Calendar. ... A website (or Web site) is a collection of web pages, typically common to a particular domain name or subdomain on the World Wide Web on the Internet. ... The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is a Federal police force which is the principal investigative arm of the United States Department of Justice (DOJ). ... A collar is a common symbol in BDSM. BDSM is any of a number of related patterns of human sexual behavior. ... 2005 : January - February - March - April - May - June - July - August - September - October - November - December- → Deaths in September September 28 : Constance Baker Motley September 25 : M. Scott Peck September 25 : Don Adams September 20 : Simon Wiesenthal September 14 : Robert Wise September 10 : Hermann Bondi September 8 : Donald Horne September 7 : Moussa Arafat... Midori (ç·‘) has several meanings: It is the Japanese word for the color green. It is also a common Japanese female personal name. ... 2005 (MMV) was a common year starting on Saturday of the Gregorian calendar. ... October 7 is the 280th day of the year (281st in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... April 2006 : ← - January - February - March - April - May - June - July - August - September - October - November - December- → Events 1 April 2006 (Saturday) Marcos Pontes, Brazils first astronaut, reaches the International Space Station. ... A television network is a distribution network for television content whereby a central operation provides programming for many television stations. ... The FCCs official seal. ... ...

See also

A sexual norm can refer to a personal or a social norm. ... Look up blasphemy in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... A dictionary definition of Indecent not conforming with accepted standards of behaviour or morality. ... Censorship is the removal of information from the public, or the prevention of circulation of information, where it is desired or felt best by some controlling group or body that others are not allowed to access the information which is being censored. ... Telephone scatologia is the making of obscene telephone calls for sexual pleasure. ... The seven dirty words are seven English words comedian George Carlin listed in his monologue Seven Words You Can Never Say on Television, released in 1972 on his album Class Clown. ... The US Bill of Rights guarantees the rights of citizens to speak and publish freely. ... Look up Profanity in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... This article or section does not cite its references or sources. ... Citizens of the United States often treat free speech as a fundamental right and often a matter of patriotism. ... For other uses, see First Amendment (disambiguation). ... Due to the international nature of the Internet, Internet pornography carries with it special issues with regard to the law. ...

References

  1. ^ Jacobellis v. Ohio, 378 U.S. 184, 197 (1964).
  2. ^ Miller v. California, 413 U.S. 15, 24 (1972).
  3. ^ U.S. Customs and Border Protection Form 6059B, January 2004 [1]
  • Judith Silver of Coollawyer.com, "Movie Day at the Supreme Court or 'I Know It When I See It': A History of the Definition of Obscenity," on FindLaw.com.[5]
  • O'Toole, L. (1998), Pornocopia: Porn, Sex, Technology and Desire, London, Serpent's Tail. ISBN 1-85242-395-1
  • The Melon Farmers (UK)

External links


  Results from FactBites:
 
Obscenity - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (1780 words)
Because the concept of obscenity is often ill-defined, it can be used as a political tool to try to restrict freedom of expression.
Obscenity law in England and Wales is currently governed by the Obscene Publications Act, but obscenity law goes back much further into the English common law.
In 2000 a jury in Provo, UT found Larry Peterman not guilty on obscenity charges, as the defense showed that residents of the town were disproportionately large consumers of the very materials Peterman was selling.
Wikipedia: Obscenity (597 words)
The United States has constitutional protection for freedom of speech, which was not designed to protect every utterance, and the Supreme Court has ruled that this protection does not extend to obscenity as currently defined by the Miller test.
and 10 p.m.: language or material that, in context, depicts or describes, in terms patently offensive as measured by contemporary community standards for the broadcast medium, sexual or excretory organs or activities (indecency is not as bad as obscenity).
The etymology of obscenity and its parent adjective obscene, is not known, but is thought to have come from a primitive Latin word meaning "filth, foulness".
  More results at FactBites »

 
 

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