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Censorship of obscenity in the US follows

State and local laws cover nudity, vulgar language, and sexual acts in the confines of bars. Most localities allow a broad range of activity as long as liquor is not being served or customers are not touching the performers. Pour alcohol, however, and local laws cover exactly what can be shown, and what can be touched. Cities such as New York or Los Angeles seem to allow sexual penetration and other acts although sex with animals or other extremely deviant activity is not allowed. Federal laws do not address the activity that occurs in local bars.

Many owners of establishments in states that do not allow nudity in bars, simply do not sell alcohol, and have their employees memorize words or dance moves, so the display of nudity becomes art, not obscenity. Sexual penetration in these local “theaters” still will not occur and minors will not be able to come to watch the shows. The internet seems to have little or no restrictions whatsoever with the exception of child pornography. Videos not allowed in some local areas exist freely on the internet and show every deviant sexual act possible.

There are likely Federal laws against display of sex with animals, or sex with dead people, or real rape, however these do not seem to be enforced, or cannot be enforced because these images originate outside of US borders. There seems to be a great amount of law enforcement activity surrounding the conversation of minors with adults, and writing something of a sexual nature to a minor draws extreme interest from law enforcement officials. However, just writing something sexual to someone that the writer thinks is a minor does not seem to be a criminal act, although some local laws might deem it illegal.

Arrests and convictions usually stem from adults actually arranging and attending a meeting with someone that the adult believes to be under the age of 18. Obscenity laws do not cover physical actions by adults with children; other laws apply in these cases. Extreme criminal laws exist for people downloading or uploading child pornography and that is enforced by local, State, Federal and international law enforcement agencies. Obscenity laws are censorship. Any rule that states that something cannot be displayed or described is by definition censorship.

From the review of the various medium that can be censored, obscenity itself seems to have no clear definition. The case of Janet Jackson’s wardrobe malfunction caused an outcry from a nation seemingly obsessed with the slightest display of flesh, and the broadcaster that unwittingly broadcast the incident was fined a lot of money from the FCC. Shock Jock Howard Stern also was continually fined for language he used on air since President Bush has been President. However before Bush was President, Mr.

Stern seemed to say or describe anything he wanted to say as long as it did not contain vulgar spoken speech. Federal censorship changed when a conservative President took the oath of office. Since censorship changed, the definition of obscene must have changed too. In one South Park episode a vulgar word for excrement was used over 100 times and it aired at 9:30 PM when President Clinton was in office. That episode has not been shown while President Bush has been in office.

So it seems that obscenity becomes defined by the people with the authority to censor it and not by any legal definition. This paper defined obscenity in the opening paragraph and did so with few words. If all medium faced the same censorship for the same displays then this paper would have been short and to the point. The paper could have stated that displaying, say, anything not revealed by a Moslem women’s long black dress is obscene and censorship is the act of preventing such a display to the public at large in any form.

However the act of censorship is not only based on the medium of use but on the time of day. To say something is obscene at one time and not obscene one second later is ridiculous, so, the censorship in the case of the FCC rules for TV and radio is not based on the obscenity of the material; it is based on the concept that minors are more likely to see material they should not see until they are one second over the age of eighteen. It seems that censorship exists for the most part to protect minors and not to prevent adults from viewing what they want except for child pornography.

The different rules for books make censorship more puzzling. A person of any age may walk into a public library and usually check out Arthur Miller’s Sexus. This book in some few short scenes graphically describes rape and other sexual acts. However, the book has a plot, and very few of its pages describe sexual acts. There is no warning about what will appear in its pages and it does not seem to draw any activity from citizen groups, although it probably does in some local areas.

Take Mr. Miller’s sex scenes and replicate them over and over, changing the words (regardless of their actual merit as literature), and remove the plot, and the book magically becomes obscene and worthy of existence only in Adult book stores and pervert dens. Here the age of the reader does not seem to matter to the censor as much as the literary merit of the book. It is not the question of a well turned phrase; it is the lack of plot that makes a book (or a movie) obscene.

Censorship of obscenity in the US follows no particular pattern and does not have any logical basis whatsoever. Showing skin to minors is censored. Showing words about skin to minors is not censored, unless the written word is in a particular store or has plastic around it. Saying a vulgarity at one time is censored but not at another time. If minors did not exist, the patchwork censorship that exists today would not exist. The definition of obscenity and its censorship would be a simple thing.

It is not a simple thing because different people in different locations think different things are obscene, and that definition changes depending on whether the obscenity is in print or picture, and depending on the age of the person viewing it. It would be far better if the US viewed the nude body and sexual acts (perhaps not the really deviant ones) as a wonderful example of the natural human condition and not obscene at all. Displaying violence continually is the real obscenity but that will never be censored because it is somehow a symbol of the independence of the American people.

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