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12.4c Obscene materials

Constitutional protection is not given to obscene publications. However, great difficulty has been experienced by the Supreme Court in determining what is obscene. After the case of Roth versus United States in 1957, three essential constitutional criteria had to be present for judging material as obscene. Firstly, by applying contemporary community standards (that is, the opinion of the society at large), the average person would consider the dominant theme of the materials to be appealing to a prurient interest in sex. Secondly, the material was an affront to contemporary standards, thus making it patently offensive. Thirdly, there was no redeeming social value in the materials.


Under the variable obscenity doctrine, so long as materials were discreetly promoted, government would stay their hands against all except so-called hard-core pornography, as far as adults were concerned. However, the Supreme Court approved regulations prohibiting the knowing sale to minors of "girly magazines" that would not be regarded as obscene, if sold to adults.

Federal statutes exclude from the mail "every obscene, lewd, lascivious or filthy book…or other publication of an indecent character," while state statutes that make it a crime to publish obscene matter, are common.

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Index

12.0 Introduction
12.1 Perspective on Civil Liberties
12.2 The First Amendment:Freedom of Religion
12.3 The First Amendment:Freedom of Speech
12.4 The First Amendment:Freedom of Press
12.5 The Rights of Defendants
12.6 Implied Rights

Chapter 13





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