What is Obscenity?

February 22, 1971, Paul Robert Cohen V. California, Cohen was wearing a jacket on which were inscribed the words “fuck the draft” and he won his case by a vote 5 to 4, the Supreme Court reversed his conviction, holding that it violated the right to free expression under the first amendment. The real problem with Cohen’s offense was the use of the expletive. It was the offensive and official disapproval of sexual content that was a staple element in American legal conflict for many decades. Americans today would find it hard to believe what was suppressed in the past. The attempts by judges and politicians to draw the line and censor media was ultimately unsuccessful. This concept of obscenity caused me to reconsider what truly defines obscenity and in most cases I came to the conclusion that obscenity is anything sexual or sexually implicit in nature. By definition, obscenity is any utterance or act that strongly offends the prevalent morality of the time. I questioned what obscenity meant to me and I thought that it was situational. Something I say to my roommate may be acceptable, but would be incredibly obscene to say to my 99-year-old grandmother. According to the definition, obscenity also has to do with the morality of the time. During this era, I feel that obscenity and sexuality have become progressively normalized. A subject that is totally acceptable to discuss at dinner may have been limited to the bedroom 60 years prior to today.

United States Obscenity Law Here is a link that analyzes and explains obscenity law and how it has changed over time in regards to legality. So as contemporary culture has progressed, law has had to adapt to fit those changes.

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