A Clockwork Orange is Not Obscene
Anthony Burgess' A Clockwork Orange describes a horrific world in an apathetic society has allowed its youth to run wild. The novel describes the senseless violence perpetrated by teens, who rape women and terrorize the elderly. The second part of the novel describes how the protagonist, Alex, is "cured" by being drugged and then forced to watch movies of atrocities. The novel warns against both senseless violence and senseless goodness - of the danger of not being allowed to choose between good and evil.
Though attacked as obscene in Orem, Utah in 1973, the book does not meet the legal definition of obscenity. While it contains possibly offensive language and violent imagery, these are not all that make up the novel. It is a powerful social commentary; a warning against growing lazy and desiring a quick fix to the problems of society. To be legally defined as obscene, a work must be completely lacking in redeeming social value. However, A Clockwork Orange has both social and literary value. It is a shocking warning of what the world could become.
The first amendment to the Constitution of the United States protects free speech. However, there are some forms of expression that are not protected by this amendment, including obscenity. Roth v. United States (1957) explains that obscenity is "not communication, and is, by definition, utterly without social value." Miller v. California has a less lenient definition, and states that "the fact that the material may have some redeeming social value will not necessarily immunize it...