Obscenity and Indecency
Though it is clear that obscenity and indecency are different in meaning, the two have not been clearly defined. Something that is obscene has to be indecent. However, not everything that is indecent is obscene. There have been a series of instances whereby even the court has found itself unable to classify a material as either pornographic or obscene. Some pornographic material has been protected under the law. This largely depends on the extent of obscenity in the material.
The question of what is obscene not is tough to answer. This is because what one may consider very distastefully may be very okay for another individual. The line is, therefore, very blurry. Justice Potter Stewart stated that he was unable to define pornography, but he claimed he could recognize it when he saw it . If at all that is the standard in of identifying pornography, then it is very unclear. This is because one man’s opinion is bound to differ from the other. This is because people in society come from different backgrounds with different cultures that entertain different things. Therefore, one person may be offended by something that the rest finds interesting.
Over time, there has been constant change in examining materials to determine whether or not they are obscene. At first, the particular passage of the writing in question would be examined, and it would be used to judge the whole writing. However, with time, this has changed, and it is the writing is judged as a whole. This method is more permissive. Need, therefore, arises for clear definitions of what is pornographic, indecent or obscene. It should also be clear which is protected by the law and to what extent it is.
Crook, T. (2009). Comparative Media Law and Ethics. New York: Routledge.
Ward, S. (2011). Ethics and the Media: An Introduction. London: Cambridge University Press.