Thursday, April 5, 2007

What's "obscene?"

If something is obscene, we must understand why it is so. These are some of the five most important criteria used in America before today's Miller Test (the paragraph that follows is taken from the Wikipedia): 1- The Hicklin Test: The effect of isolated passages upon the most susceptible persons. (British common law, cited in Regina v. Hicklin, (1868) -- Overturned when Michigan tried to outlaw all printed matter that would 'corrupt the morals of youth' in Butler v. State of Michigan (1957). 2- Wepplo: If material has a substantial tendency to deprave or corrupt its readers by inciting lascivious thoughts or arousing lustful desires. (People v. Wepplo). 3- 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. 4- Roth v. United States 354 U.S. 476 (1957) - overturned by Miller. 5- Roth-Jacobellis: Community standards applicable to an obscenity are national, not local standards. Material is "utterly without redeeming social importance". Jacobellis v. Ohio (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, (1966). 7- Under FCC rules and federal law, radio stations and over-the-air television channels cannot air obscene material at any time and cannot air indecnet 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 in degree than obscenity).

No comments: