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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 ?
Earlier men used to show some restraint when they were in the company of women, but now they show no hesitation in hurling obscenities.
A police spokesman said officers had conducted door-to- door searches after three complaints from Mr Burman about obscenities and other damage to his car.
Today we have comedians spouting obscenities to get a laugh.
After five decades of worshipping their Nittany Lions, "the greatest fans in the world" began booing the team, chanting obscenities at the officials, and taunting their "losers.
A smile, a "hello" and restrained voices will earn you more sympathy for your cause then obscenities and rude behavior.
I remember a few years ago in a League of Wales game that the goalkeeper spent most of the game shouting obscenities and swearing across the pitch in a booming Merseyside voice.
He then stormed into the locker room and threw his racket bag against a bench, still mouthing obscenities.
Obscenities, racial slurs, and one of the hottest sex scenes ever make this prize-winning novel appropriate for the mature teen only.
OBSCENITIES, obscenities and more obscenities, that was the order of the night when Roy Chubby Brown returned to St David's Hall.
Deputies said the girl spouted obscenities toward the driver after boarding the bus, then headed toward an open seat in the back.
Meanwhile, a vulgar, violent mob of 200 anarchists, "gays", abortion feminists, and assorted toughs appeared twice to scream venomous, vitriolic obscenities, requiring a police phalanx of 300 officers to keep them at bay, all at the taxpayers' and HLI's expense.
Audience participation involves the shouting of obscenities at performers, referring not only to the characters they play, but to what is known of the ac tors themselves.