Dawn Pisturino's Blog

My Writing Journey

Pornography vs. Obscenity

What’s the Difference?

rodin_august_the-kiss

THE KISS by Auguste Rodin

The Supreme Court of the United States has determined that people have a First Amendment (Free Speech) right to own pornographic and obscene materials in the privacy of their own home, including sexually-explicit books, magazines, artwork, and movies, as long as there is no commercial interest involved (Nemeth, 2012).

Organizations like the American Civil Liberties Union want to abolish all restrictions on all created materials in the name of Free Speech. For them, any form of free expression — including child pornography — would be exempt from government regulation (Nemeth, 2012).

Obscenity is NOT protected by the U.S. Constitution (Nemeth, 2012). Pornography may or may not fall into the category of obscenity, depending on its content. Although pornographic material is used to arouse sexual excitement, obscene materials go far beyond this need. Images and descriptions of necrophilia, pedophilia, incest, rape, snuff, bestiality, and extreme violence offend the sensibilities of most people; and most people would consider these “obscene.”

Most state and federal statutes are designed to protect children. Laws have been established prohibiting the public display of lewd and obscene materials; restricting the sale of these materials to adults over eighteen years old; regulating the production and sale of such materials; criminalizing exploitation of minors in the production and sale of obscene materials; and denying inmates the right to receive and circulate these materials (Nemeth, 2012).

The Internet has become a hotbed for the distribution of pornographic and obscene materials. Once again, most laws regulating Internet use for this purpose are aimed at protecting children from exposure and exploitation (Nemeth, 2012).

Miller v. California (1973) set the precedent for defining the nature of obscenity (Nemeth, 2012). Whether something can be called obscene is relative to its quality, and this is determined by how a reasonable average person would react to it. The court left it up to the local community to define obscenity and pornography based on community standards (Nemeth, 2012). What is considered obscene in San Francisco will probably differ from what is considered obscene in Salt Lake City. Does the work appeal to prurient interests, provide images or descriptions of sexual behavior that are repugnant, and lack any serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific merit (Siegel, 2012)? These questions are at the heart of Miller v. California.

How do Internet standards apply in this case? If the Internet hosts communities of adult websites that promote lewd, lascivious, pornographic, and obscene materials, what community standards apply (Nemeth, 2012)? It seems like anything goes on the World Wide Web. Even if the Internet was more thoroughly regulated, the Dark Web avoids detection as much as possible, and this is where the truly obscene is mostly found.

History, also, has seen many changes in what is considered pornographic or obscene. Lady Chatterley’s Lover by D.H. Lawrence was considered obscene in early 20th century England (Siegel, 2012). Today, it is viewed as a classic piece of English literature. As Jim Shelley of the UK’s Daily Mail writes, “since it was first published, Lady Chatterley’s Lover has been a byword for illicit, explicit sex and scandal . . . Lawrence’s book has become so synonymous with torrid, florid passions that its once revolutionary frisson has become cliché.” Would Lawrence be shocked by today’s standards of pornography and obscenity? One can only speculate.

Dawn Pisturino

Administration of Justice 109, Mohave Community College, Kingman, Arizona

Copyright 2016 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

References

Nemeth, C.P. (2012). Criminal law. Boca Raton, FL: Taylor & Francis.

Shelley, Jim. (2015, September 7). Lady chatterley’s lover was unfaithful and impotent.

       The Daily Mail. Retrieved from http://www.dailymail.co.uk.

Siegel, L.J. (2012). Criminology. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.

Leave a comment »

WRITERS: MIND YOUR MANNERS!

weneedyoubadge1

A MESSAGE FROM JON BARD, MANAGING EDITOR OF CHILDREN’S BOOK INSIDER:

“If you spend a fair amount of time online, perhaps you’ve noticed it:

People are becoming ruder. And angrier. And more entitled.

Really, I’m simply amazed at some of what appears in my e-mail inbox. Folks with whom I’ve never corresponded are sending me demanding messages such as “SEND ME THE EBOOK!!!!” and “I WANT TO GET PUBLISHED. TELL ME WHAT TO DO!”

People (non-customers) send us long, detailed questions out of the blue and expect immediate responses. If they don’t get one, we often receive an abusive message as a follow up.

And then there’s the magic words that many people seem to be using as a justification for curt, nicety-free missives:
“Sent via my iPhone.”

Look, I’ve been doing this a long time, and I’ve got a pretty thick skin. So I raise this not to prevent my feelings from being hurt, but rather as a cautionary message about how *not* to sabotage your writing career.

As a 21st century author, your ability to communicate is paramount to your success. Editors, agents, bloggers, book reviewers, distributors, promotional partners and readers are just some of the people who are important to your career. For goodness sake, treat them with more respect than “Here’s my new book. Write a review!”.

Here then, are my tips to help you be seen as a courteous author worthy of consideration:

• “Dear”, “Thank you”, “Please” and “Sincerely/All the Best/Yours Truly” aren’t archaic leftovers from the distant past. They’re still as important as ever. Use them. Please.

• Composing a message from your phone or tablet is not an excuse for overly-direct curtness. If you have a business message to send, wait until you have the time to write it properly.

• If you’re contacting someone for the first time, make the effort to introduce yourself, and clearly state the purpose of your message.

• If someone doesn’t get right back to you, don’t fire off an angry e-mail accusing them of ignoring you. Perhaps the message got lost. Maybe they’re on vacation. Perhaps they’re ill. Calmly send another friendly message restating your request or comment.

• Remember that you’re dealing with human beings. In our case, every piece of e-mail is read either by me or by Laura. We don’t have a building full of underlings to take care of that for us. When you send us kind words (and many of you do — thank you!), it feels great. When you’re rude or angry, it stings. Treat me with respect — I think I’ve earned at least that.

The vast majority of you are nothing but gracious in your communications with us. That bodes well for your future success. Keep at it, and gently work to correct those who aren’t minding your manners.
For the few of you who may have let your etiquette slip, please take heed of the points I’ve laid out, and make a resolution to make the online world just a little bit more courteous.

That’s it — venting over! Onward….”

THANKS, JON!

Dawn Pisturino

 

Leave a comment »

Right on, Bree Ogden!

this literary life

In 1912, Henry Gilbert released his epic novel, Robin Hood.

In 1922, released was the stunning Ulysses by James Joyce.

a_wrinkle_in_time_original_coverAldous Huxley published the ground breaking Brave New World in 1932.

Albert Camus brought us Existentialism with The Stranger and The Myth of Sisyphus in the year 1942.

1952, had us all crying over a spider with E.B. White’s Charlotte’s Web.

A Winkle in Time, Something Wicked Comes This Way, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, and Clockwork Orange all blew our minds in 1962.

No one will ever love a book more than The Princess Bride which 1972 brought us.

Roald Dahl owned the year before I was born, 1982, with James and the Giant Peach and The BFG.

In 1992, The Motorcycle Diaries: Notes on a Latin American Journey  by Ernesto “Che” Guevara had us rethinking our lives and the journey’s we have taken.

2002 had us evaluating family…

View original post 373 more words

Leave a comment »

%d bloggers like this: