Legal and social proscription of obscenity: an aid to speaker preparation



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This study is a six-chapter empirical survey of legal and societal proscription of obscenity in the United States with the purpose of discovering proscribed legal and societal obscenity by 1970. The study surveys the historical proscriptions in England and early America, traces the proscriptions through the related court decisions prior to 1957, and establishes the proscriptions up to 1960 and 1970, and offers guidelines for speaker discovery of both legal and societal obscenity. Primary sources include materials gathered by the Chairman of the President’s Commission on Obscenity and Pornography, many Supreme Court opinions, and various commentaries published in legal journals. This study notes substantial differences between 1960 and 1970 obscenity proscriptions. The freer expression in films, books, and entertainment which existed by 1970 is compared to the more restrained expression of 1960. While 1960 law did not protect sexually explicit materials, by 1970 Court opinions extend the First and Fourteenth Amendment protection to include such expression. Consequently, certain words and examples formerly proscribed are now available to a speaker. Thirteen specific legal considerations for a speaker while preparing a speech and a profile of the twelve most favorable and least favorable audience characteristics for sexually candid materials result from the study.