How did the obscenity/pornography laws change in the last 20 years?
October 31, 2008 8:54 PM Subscribe
Adult magazines and pay cable channels can now show more. Did the laws change, did society change, or both?
posted by anonymous to law & government (12 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I remember "reading" Hustler and Penthouse around 1990. Back then, magazines couldn't show any kind of penetration - and the editors said so. A few years later, I had the Playboy Channel, and they, too, couldn't show penetration.
Now, those same magazines show the complete sex act, including penetration, and even ejaculation. The Playboy Channel shows entire sex scenes except, strangely enough, ejaculation.
I assume we have the internet to thank for this. My question is, how did it happen? Not why, but how?
Did Congress change the laws of obscenity? Did the FCC change them? Were Playboy, Penthouse et al self-policing, and they simply decided to show more once they faced competition from the web?
I don't remember any sort of big news event such as a headline like "Hustler To Show Penetration For The First Time." As far as I can remember in those youthful days, the change came slowly -- first a woman could be shown penetrating herself, then the photos could discreetly show some penetration by a man, and then it was anything goes.
This interests me not just for prurient reasons but also because of the censorship implications. If the government can make something legal that easily, can it also make something illegal? And if it was legal all along, why did the industry move so slowly? Did porn on the web destroy all the barriers that Larry Flynt couldn't?
I understand this topic is provocative and the mods are watching. Let's try to keep this a legalistic discussion and not a debate for or against pornography.