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Offensive to recognized standards of decency.

The term obscene is applied to written, verbal, or visual works or conduct that treat sex in an objectionable or lewd or lascivious manner. Although the First Amendment guarantees freedom of expression, such constitutional protection is not extended to obscene works. To determine whether a work is obscene, the trier of fact applies the three-pronged guidelines established by the U.S. Supreme Court in miller v. california, 413 U.S. 15, 93 S. Ct. 2607, 37 L. Ed. 2d 419 (1973):

(a) whether the "average person, applying contemporary community standards" would find that the work depicting or describing sexual conduct when taken as a whole, appeals to the prurient interest…, (b) whether the work depicts or describes, in a patently offensive way, sexual conduct specifically defined by the applicable state law; and (c) whether the work, taken as a whole, lacks serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value.


Freedom of Speech; Pornography.

West's Encyclopedia of American Law, edition 2. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


adj., adv. a highly subjective reference to material or acts which display or describe sexual activity in an obviously disgusting manner, appealing only to "prurient interest," with no legitimate artistic, literary or scientific purpose. Pictures, writings, film or public acts which are found to be obscene are not protected by the free speech guarantee of the First Amendment. However, "one person's obscenity is another person's art," or "I can't define it, but I know it when I see it." (See: pornography)

Copyright © 1981-2005 by Gerald N. Hill and Kathleen T. Hill. All Right reserved.


Collins Dictionary of Law © W.J. Stewart, 2006
References in periodicals archive ?
Paired with your advertisers, who are trying to make a killing off people's fears by selling products at obscenely inflated prices, I am left with a measure of distaste for recent issues.
As in 1938, the Bartender is a grotesque figure with a large, padded stomach that he heaves up obscenely with hands high on his thighs.
Evelyn Amato, 31, said the man in a cat costume yanked her from her seat, grabbed her head and obscenely thrust his pelvis at her face.
and lobbying wizard Robert Keith Gray, until recently chairman of Hill and Knowlton Worldwide--The Power House details how obscenely well-paid flacks for special interest groups, not democratically elected representatives, have in the Reagan/Bush years constituted a proxy government that helped determine domestic and foreign policy--including the Gulf War.
Compared to many of our peers abroad, the cost of bus and rail travel can be obscenely high, while the quality and reliability of what's on offer varies wildly.
Apart from the TV interviews, the magazine photoshoots, the endless selfies, the constant stream of self-promotion on social networking sites, the publicity circus of an obscenely ostentatious wedding, the phone app that reportedly will earn her more than PS100million.
THE not-for-profit Motability scheme, backed by taxpayers, proved obscenely profitable for fatcat Mike Betts with his PS846,000 package of pay and perks.
This episode, along with the scandal which is engulfing the NHS Care Quality Commision, shows, yet again, that our public services, at both national and local levels, are an absolute, and obscenely expensive, disgrace.
She unleashed the crazed policy of transferring wealth from the working class and the neediest in society to her already obscenely rich friends,.
Lane, 18, wore a T-shirt with "killer" scrawled across it and smirked and gestured obscenely when he appeared in court in Ohio.
ALCOHOL is available at "obscenely low" prices, the head of a new charity said.
He is obscenely well-paid to display his skills on the football field and, if he is not able to give 100% loyalty to Newcastle United, then he must leave and the sooner the better and take his agent with him.