Pornography Laws

In 1973, the U.S. Supreme Court wrote, "This much has been settled by the court, that obscene material is unprotected by the First Amendment."

In the more recent Ferber case, the court wrote: "Child pornography is illegal under any circumstances."

Thus, clearly, obscenity in any form is illegal. Yet the public is generally under the impression that it is First Amendment-protected. It is not. Federal law prohibits the mailing, importation, interstate transportation and broadcasting of obscene material. Most state laws prohibit the distribution and sale of obscene material. The reason for the confusion in the public mind is that existing laws have been rarely enforced in recent years, except in areas where residents have demanded enforcement.

To tighten California's definition of what is considered obscene, and to bring this state in line with the "Miller standard" of obscenity, Councilwoman Gloria McColl introduced a resolution to the San Diego City Council, which unanimously approved it. It is now being carried by state Sen. Wadie P. Deddeh (D-Chula Vista) as Senate Bill 139. It would change the definition of obscene and harmful matter from "utterly without redeeming social importance" to "the material taken as a whole lacks serious literary, artistic, political or scientific value."

We commend McColl and Deddeh for caring enough to act. We urge all who are distressed by finding pornography at every turn to write Deddeh in support of his bill.


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