Hate Speech, Sex Speech, Free Speech

By Nicholas Wolfson | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 5
EROTICISM, OBSCENITY,
PORNOGRAPHY, AND FREE
SPEECH

Modern society speaks about sex, Michel Foucault observes, "ad infinitum, while exploiting it as the secret."1 As he pointed out, we attempt to explain virtually everything about ourselves in terms of sex. We "bring [ourselves] almost entirely--our bodies, our minds, our individuality, our history-- under the sway of a logic of concupiscence and desire."2

Sexual depiction, in the forms modern society terms "pornography" or "obscenity," is a multibillion-dollar industry.3 It is also the object of regulatory concern by the government and important movements in society.4 The debate about pornography begins with one fundamental question: What is it?5 The hotly disputed answers inevitably turn on (sometimes violently) contrasting notions of the good and evil life.6 Pornography is a running debate about issues deep in the human psyche, issues more fundamental than virtually any other of the political topics that constitute core First Amendment debates.7

Many religious conservatives and also many feminists believe they can both define and justifiably condemn pornography. Their reasons often differ, but they agree that pornography lacks intellectual or aesthetic merit, or inflicts hurt to a level that demands abrogation of First Amendment

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Hate Speech, Sex Speech, Free Speech
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page *
  • Contents *
  • Chapter 1 - Introduction 1
  • Notes 7
  • Chapter 2 - Pragmatism and Words That Hurt 11
  • Notes 40
  • Chapter 3 - Hate Speech 47
  • Notes 76
  • Chapter 4 - Inequality 83
  • Notes 101
  • Chapter 5 - Eroticism, Obscenity, Pornography, and Free Speech 103
  • Notes 132
  • Chapter 6 - Conclusion 143
  • Notes 149
  • Bibliography 151
  • Index 161
  • About the Author *
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