Pornography Debate


obscenity, in law, anything that tends to corrupt public morals by its indecency. The moral concepts that the term connotes vary from time to time and from place to place. In the United States, the word obscenity is a technical legal term. In the 1950s the U.S. Supreme Court began to relax rules prohibiting the possession, sale, and distribution of obscene material, often called pornography, but in 1973 that trend was reversed. The court ruled that material that appealed to prurient interest in sex and that did not have serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value could be banned as obscene. It ruled that a national definition of obscenity was not necessary and, therefore, that communities could develop local standards within the court's guidelines. The legal determination that material falls within a definition of obscenity is usually made by a jury.

See H. M. Clor, Obscenity and Public Morality (1969, repr. 1985); D. S. Moretti, Obscenity and Pornography (1984).

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2018, The Columbia University Press.

Pornography Debate: Selected full-text books and articles

Pornography, Community and the Internet - Freedom of Speech and Obscenity on the Internet By Kamiel, Yuval; Wismonsky, Haim Rutgers Computer & Technology Law Journal, Vol. 30, No. 1, Spring 2004
Censorship By Ted Gottfried Marshall Cavendish Benchmark, 2006
Librarian's tip: Chap. 2 "Morality or Prudery?"; Chap. 3 "See-Saw: Smut and the Law"
Moral Controversies in American Politics: Cases in Social Regulatory Policy By Raymond Tatalovich; Byron W. Daynes M. E. Sharpe, 1998
Librarian's tip: Chap. 8 "Pornography: Freedom of Expression or Sexual Degradation?"
Dealing with Pornography: The Case against Censorship By Paul R. Wilson University of New South Wales Press, 1995
Pornography and Censorship By David Copp; Susan Wendell Prometheus Books, 1983
Critical Readings: Media and Gender By Cynthia Carter; Linda Steiner Open University Press, 2004
Librarian's tip: Chap. 13 "Knowing Pornography"
More Sex Education, Please, and Less Censorship By Penny, Laurie New Statesman (1996), Vol. 140, No. 5075, October 17, 2011
Child Pornography, the First Amendment, and Mistakes of Age: An Age-Old Debate* By Ritter, Michael J Texas Law Review, Vol. 88, No. 5, April 2010
What Comes off, Comes Back to Burn: Revenge Pornography as the Hot New Flame and How It Applies to the First Amendment and Privacy Law By Genn, Benjamin A The American University Journal of Gender, Social Policy & the Law, Vol. 23, No. 1, October 1, 2014
Revenge Pornography and First Amendment Exceptions By Koppelman, Andrew Emory Law Journal, Vol. 65, No. 3, January 1, 2016
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