pornography versus Democracy word latest

pornography versus Democracy word latest - Society, Sept...

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Society , Sept 1999 v36 i6 p16 Pornography versus Democracy . (censorship and society) Walter Berns. Abstract: Pornography is at the extreme end of the continuum in discussions of censorship and freedom of speech. A discussion of pornography, the problem of art versus obscenity, and the liberal view of the First Amendment in relation to censorship is presented. Full Text: COPYRIGHT 1999 Transaction Publishers, Inc. The case against censorship is very old and very familiar. Almost anyone can formulate it without difficulty. One has merely to set the venerable Milton's Areopagitica in modern prose, using modern spelling, punctuation, and examples. This is essentially what the civil libertarians did in their successful struggle, during the past century, with the censors. The unenlightened holder of the bishop's imprimatur, Milton's "unleasur'd licencer" who has never known "the labour of book-writing," became the ignorant policeman or the bigoted school board member who is offended by "Mrs. Warren's Profession," or the benighted librarian who refused to shelf The Scarlet Letter, or the insensitive customs official who seizes Ulysses in the name of an outrageous law, or the Comstockian vigilante who glues together the pages of every copy of A Farewell to Arms she can find in the bookstore. The industrious learned Milton, insulted by being asked to "appear in print like a punie with his guardian and his censors hand on the back of his title to be his bayle and surety," was replaced by Shaw, Hawthorne, Joyce, or Hemingway, and those who followed in their wake, all victims of the mean-spirited and narrow-minded officials who were appointed, or in some cases took it upon themselves, to judge what others should read, or at least not read. The presumed advantage of truth when it grapples with falsehood became the inevitable victory of "enduring ideas" in the free competition of the market. With these updated versions of old and familiar arguments, the civil libertarians have prevailed. They prevailed partly because of the absurdity of some of their opposition, and also because of a difficulty inherent in the task their opponents set for themselves. The censors would proscribe the obscene, and even assuming, as our law did, that obscene speech is no part of the speech protected by the First Amendment to the Constitution, it is not easy to formulate a rule of law that distinguishes the non-obscene from the obscene. Is it the presence of four-letter words? But many a literary masterpiece contains four- letter words. Detailed descriptions of sexual acts? James Joyce provides these. Words tending to corrupt those into whose hands they are likely to fall? But who is to say what corrupts or, for that matter, whether anything corrupts or, again, what is meant by corruption? Is it an appeal to a "prurient interest" or is it a work that is "patently offensive?" If that is what is meant by the obscene, many a "socially important work," many a book, play, or film with "redeeming social value," would be lost to us. The
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This note was uploaded on 02/02/2012 for the course SOC 410 taught by Professor Nicklarsen during the Fall '11 term at Chapman University .

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pornography versus Democracy word latest - Society, Sept...

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