According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, Obscene is defined as “disgusting to the senses, repulsive”. California law defines obscene matter as “taken as a whole, that the average person applying contemporary statewide standards, appeals to the prurient interested, that taken as a whole depicts, or describes sexual conduct in a patently offensive way and that taken as a whole, lacks serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value”. Obscenity refers to the examination of books, periodicals, plays, films, television and radio programs, news reports, and other communication media. The objectionable material may be considered immoral or obscene, heretical or blasphemous, seditious or treasonable, or injurious to the national security.
The Bill of Rights, “First Amendment Prohibits Congress from establishing religion and restricting it free exercise; also prohibits Congress from abridging freedoms of speech, press, assembly, and petition. So does the First Amendment cover obscenity? The Supreme Court says No, it has declined to grant First Amendment protection to utterances and writings that are obscene or defamatory. Justice Potter Stewart expressed the difficulty in his famous utterance “I shall not today attempt to further define obscenity, but I know it when I see it”. The Judicial system used the Miller test, a test that uses three questions to define obscenity. Question 1-does the average person applying contemporary, community standards, believe that the dominant theme of the material, taken as a whole, appeal to a prurient interest? Question 2-Is the material potently offensive? Question 3-Does the work, taken as a whole, lack serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value?
Under FCC rules and Federal Law, radio stations and over-the-air television channels cannot air obscene material at anytime and indecent material between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m. language and material that, in context, depicts or describes, in terms patently offensive as measured by contemporary community standards for broadcast medium, sexual or excretory organs or activities. Federal law forbids obscenity in certain contexts such as broadcast law. Courts and legislature have similar problems defining the term because it’s paradoxical and thus impossible to really define. The state Department of Justice organized a task force call Obscenity Prosecution Task Force (OPTF) in 2005, to investigate and prosecute the producers and distributors of hardcore pornography.
Non image based obscenity cause in USA
Most cases of obscenity are limited to actual images, but in these cases starting with Dunlop vs. US (1897) 165.U.S.486 case which upheld a conviction for mailing and delivery of a newspaper called “Chicago Dispatch” containing obscene, lewd, lascivious and indecent material. Another case Memories of a woman of pleasure vs. Attorney General Massachusetts., 383 US 413 (1966). This case involves a book written by John Cleland that was put on trial for...