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obscenity, 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).

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References in periodicals archive ?
The late Scott, who was a freelance writer from the UK, describes aspects of sexuality, censorship, and the law in the UK and considers how ideas of obscenity are used to target those whose sexuality falls outside the norm.
The incident occurred at the end of the 29th over of the West Indies innings when Zampa was heard using an audible obscenity by the umpires.
A statement issued by PEMRA said that the meeting also concluded that any content which is unacceptable while viewing with the family transpires obscenity and recommended formulating a committee to screen out unwanted content from television advertisements as well as regulating the rating of television channels.
He remarked, 'We are liberal but will not tolerate obscenity'.
'The nongovernment organisations are working on a plan to accustom youths with western culture,' he maintained, adding that national youth carnival and dance contests in public sector educational institutions were being held to 'promote vulgarity and obscenity'.
Obscenity in this sense is not about the private morality of officials.
Unclean Lips: Obscenity, Jews, and American Culture.
It asked the Centre to find out " ways and means" to block " blue films" on the Internet, saying obscenity which was a crime under the Indian law " cannot be allowed to be perpetuated".
ISLAMABAD -- Supreme Court (SC) has sought report from federal government till the second week of January with regard to its steps in media obscenity case.
The Article contends that the best way of understanding the cases is to view them as part of the push by mid-twentieth century courts to "demoralize" the law of obscenity, that is to reject, minimize, or ignore the government's contention that obscenity laws were needed to promote and protect public morality.
Nuneaton-born Whitehouse went straight to the top, phoning the Prime Minister's office early in 1983, urging fresh action on obscenity legislation.
Norman Mailer worked to change definitions of obscenity in his writing and the brash controversies of his writing makes him an especially compelling figure for the college classroom.