O is for Obscene

Obscene speech is not protected speech, per the United States Supreme Court in 1957. Nor are obscene actions in public, and in many locales in private, protected either. The most famous case still remains, Jacobellis v. Ohio, decided June 22nd, 1964 in favor of the defendant that the screening of The Lovers, was not obscene. Included in the judgement, which makes for interesting reading is this:

3. The test for obscenity is “whether to the average person, applying contemporary community standards, the dominant theme of the material taken as a whole appeals to prurient interest.” Roth v. United States , 354 U.S. 476 :1957:. Pp. 191-195.
(a) A work cannot be proscribed unless it is “utterly without redeeming social importance,” and hence material that deals with sex in a manner that advocates ideas, or that has literary or scientific or artistic value or any other form of social importance, may not be held obscene and denied constitutional protection.

In 1973, the Supreme Court further refined, in Miller v. California, the definition of obscenity from that of “utterly without socially redeeming value” *see 3a above* to that which lacks “serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value”.

But lets go back to the beginning.

The word ‘scene’ comes from the mid 16th cent. (denoting a subdivision of a play, or (a piece of) stage scenery): from Latin scena, from Greek skēnē ‘tent, stage.’ The prefix ob-, is directly Latin, meaning: ‘toward, against, in the way of.’

Combined however, ‘obscene’ arrives later in the 16th cent.: from French obscène or Latin obscaenus ‘ill-omened or abominable.’ In modern English, ‘obscene’ has two definitions. 1. (of the portrayal or description of sexual matters) offensive or disgusting by accepted standards of morality and decency. 2. Offensive to moral principles; repugnant.

But the true root of ‘obscene’ is this explanation. To be ob “off of” the standards of the scaenus “the Theatre stage”. In other words, miss your mark, fumble a line, act in a way unbecoming to the profession of acting, and you are obscaenus.

Is acting out BDSM obscene? Are spanking blogs obscene? Nudity? Are the things we [meaning those that write, speak, show the human body in a sexual manner] project to the public truly obscene? Is it really the court’s job to mandate how each person lives their life? To me, there are a lot of obscene things on the world stage; what consenting adults do or say or exhibit in a sexual way in public or private, is not one of them.

D/s is a true partnership between equals who find things that both enjoy in a loving, respectful and most importantly, with honesty in a relationship with full knowledge, consent and trust.

Byron Cane

Spank you very much

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