A report on Obscenity

Cover of an undated American edition of Fanny Hill, c. 1910
The 18th century book Fanny Hill has been subject to obscenity trials at various times (image: plate XI: The bathing party; La baignade)

Any utterance or act that strongly offends the prevalent morality of the time.

- Obscenity
Cover of an undated American edition of Fanny Hill, c. 1910

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Constitution of Oregon

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Governing document of the U.S. state of Oregon, originally enacted in 1857.

Governing document of the U.S. state of Oregon, originally enacted in 1857.

Later in 1987, the court cited this provision when it abolished the state's obscenity statute in State v. Henry.

Stanley v. Georgia

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Stanley v. Georgia, 394 U.S. 557 (1969), was a U.S. Supreme Court decision that helped to establish an implied "right to privacy" in U.S. law in the form of mere possession of obscene materials.

Obscene Publications Acts

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Since 1857, a series of obscenity laws known as the Obscene Publications Acts have governed what can be published in England and Wales.

Miller in 1940

Henry Miller

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American novelist.

American novelist.

Miller in 1940
A 1957 watercolor by Miller.
Miller (1959)
Henry Miller's portrait of the actress Gia Scala shows different aspects of her.
Miller (1959)

The U.S. Supreme Court, in Grove Press, Inc., v. Gerstein, citing Jacobellis v. Ohio (which was decided the same day in 1964), overruled the state court findings of obscenity and declared the book a work of literature; it was one of the notable events in what has come to be known as the sexual revolution.

A poster in a WBAI broadcast booth which warns radio broadcasters against using the words

Seven dirty words

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The seven dirty words are seven English-language curse words that American comedian George Carlin first listed in his 1972 "Seven Words You Can Never Say on Television" monologue.

The seven dirty words are seven English-language curse words that American comedian George Carlin first listed in his 1972 "Seven Words You Can Never Say on Television" monologue.

A poster in a WBAI broadcast booth which warns radio broadcasters against using the words
CNN could freely discuss Donald Trump's characterization of "shithole countries" because CNN is available only by subscription, not broadcast over open airwaves.

In follow-up rulings, the Supreme Court established the safe harbor provision that grants broadcasters the right to broadcast indecent (but not obscene) material between the hours of 10 pm and 6 am, when it is presumed few children would be watching.

Theatrical release poster

Deep Throat (film)

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1972 American pornographic film that was at the forefront of the Golden Age of Porn .

1972 American pornographic film that was at the forefront of the Golden Age of Porn .

Theatrical release poster

In various United States communities, the movie was shown to juries to determine whether it was obscene; the outcomes varied widely and the movie was banned in numerous locations.

Collection of sex toys, Germany, 2005

Sex toy

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Object or device that is primarily used to facilitate human sexual pleasure, such as a dildo or vibrator.

Object or device that is primarily used to facilitate human sexual pleasure, such as a dildo or vibrator.

Collection of sex toys, Germany, 2005
Vending machine selling a range of sex toys, England, 2005
Christmas tree decorated with sex toys, Milan, Italy, 2013
A spanking bench
A type of Ben Wa balls
Two butt plugs
Glass dildo
Two vibrators in a sex shop
Vibrator for Couples: Love Ring
A penis sleeve
A woman with a dildo. Red figure amphora attributed to the Flying-Angel Painter c. 490 BC; City of Paris Museum of Fine Arts
A strap-on dildo being used by two women. Lithograph from De Figuris Veneris (1906) by Édouard-Henri Avril

In Japan, many dildos are created to resemble animals or cartoon characters, such as Hello Kitty, rabbits or dolphins, so that they may be sold as toys, thus avoiding obscenity laws.

Self-Portrait, 1980

Robert Mapplethorpe

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American photographer, best known for his black-and-white photographs.

American photographer, best known for his black-and-white photographs.

Self-Portrait, 1980
Mapplethorpe's studio at 24 Bond Street in the NoHo neighborhood of Manhattan, later kept by him for use as a darkroom

In 2000, Pictures was seized by two South Australian plain-clothes detectives from an Adelaide bookshop in the belief that the book breached indecency and obscenity laws.

Canada Border Services Agency

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Federal law enforcement agency that is responsible for border control (i.e. protection and surveillance), immigration enforcement, and customs services in Canada.

Federal law enforcement agency that is responsible for border control (i.e. protection and surveillance), immigration enforcement, and customs services in Canada.

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Automated passport control kiosks at Toronto Pearson International Airport
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CBSA and RCMP members share information on the survey research vessel Strait Hunter, simulating a migrant vessel, during Frontier Sentinel (2012)
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The agency will also seize items it labels obscene, as it did in February 2009 when it detained and banned two films by the adult film director Michael Lucas.

Venus in the Cloister

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Work of erotic fiction by the Abbé du Prat, which is a pseudonym for an unknown author.

Work of erotic fiction by the Abbé du Prat, which is a pseudonym for an unknown author.

This appears to be the first conviction for obscenity in the United Kingdom, and set a legal precedent for other convictions until the Obscene Publications Act 1959.