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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).

References in periodicals archive ?
All they have really done is focus attention on the obscenities that have become characteristic of this administration.
South Wales Police said the man grabbed the female and shouted obscenities, before getting away on his bike turning right into beach lane.
Actor Shia LaBeouf walks through the media after leaving court following <Bhis arrest for yelling obscenities at a Broadway performance of Cabaret
Lilienkamp continued to assault him, all the while shouting obscenities, the officer said.
But it all gets too much for him and he starts shouting obscenities while walking back to the kitchen, which leaves the diners stunned.
England's cricketers have been warned to mind their manners on Twitter after two players were fined for using obscenities on the social network site.
Males are still in a severe conflict on how to receive femalevoiced obscenities.
She was singing and dancing around, shouting obscenities at full volume," the source added.
You don't mind hearing a bit of atmosphere and singing, but not a string of obscenities.
ABOUT 20 cars have been damaged after a costly vandalism spree in a village, with obscenities scratched on some, police have said.
A NURSE has started a one woman campaign to rid Ireland of pornography and obscenities.
Contains minor obscenities (a-hole) and lots of gore.