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The Dialectic Of Obscenity, Brian L. Frye Jan 2012

The Dialectic Of Obscenity, Brian L. Frye

Law Faculty Scholarly Articles

Until the 1960s, pornography was obscene, and obscenity prosecutions were relatively common. And until the 1970s, obscenity prosecutions targeted art, as well as pornography. But today, obscenity prosecutions are rare and limited to the most extreme forms of pornography.

So why did obscenity largely disappear? The conventional history of obscenity is doctrinal, holding that the Supreme Court’s redefinition of obscenity in order to protect art inevitably required the protection of pornography as well. In other words, art and literature were the vanguard of pornography.

But the conventional history of obscenity is incomplete. While it accounts for the development of ...