Obscenity and Community Standards

Obscenity and Community Standards

With the passing of legendary comedian George Carlin, the media has taken a renewed interest in issues of freedom of speech and obscenity. The broadcasting of Carlin’s routine “Seven Dirty Words,” was the issue in the famous Supreme Court case FCC v. Pacifica (1978). However, that’s not the only famous case involving obscenity. Other cases include Roth v. The United States (1957), Miller v. California (1973), and Reno v. ACLU (1997), to name a few.

To highlight the importance placed on the issue of obscenity by the Federal Government, you may also want to look at the U.S. Department of Justice Obscenity Prosecution Task Force’s website:

“The Task Force’s trial prosecutors and law enforcement agents partner with the Nation’s 93 United States Attorneys to initiate and conduct investigations and prosecutions under federal statutes prohibiting obscenity crimes involving the transportation of obscene matter via the mails, common carriers, interactive computer services, or other means or facilities of interstate or foreign commerce.”

Also, check out this New York Times article about the potential impact that Google searches may have on determining “contemporary community standards” in obscenity cases.

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