United States Bill Could Redefine “Obscenity”, Destroy Pornography

Like I said, while the average consumer is freaking out over things, like 1984 or Man in the High Castle, I say that it’s better to have those than to have the Shimoneta dystopia.

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The article links to this archived one:


Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) proposed a bill on Tuesday that, if passed, would redefine what obscenity means nationwide, which could effectively decimate the porn industry. The Utah Republican filed the Interstate Obscenity Definition Act (IODA) based on the Communications Act of 1934, and stated in the IODA that “obscenity is not protected speech under the First Amendment and is prohibited from interstate or foreign transmission under U.S. law.”

He continued, “But obscenity is difficult to define (let alone prosecute) under the current Supreme Court test for obscenity: the ‘Miller Test.’”

Sen. Mike Lee and his press secretary did not immediately respond to Gizmodo’s request for comment.

The Miller Test was introduced in 1973 and is named after the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in the Miller v. California case that year. In that case, a California publisher and author Melvin Miller were prosecuted for publishing what was ruled as containing obscene material. Miller had mailed five unsolicited brochures to his mother and a restaurant manager revealing explicit images and photos of men and women engaged in sexual activities.

Following the court’s decision, then-Chief Justice Warren Burger outlined guidelines for jurors to follow when presented with obscenity cases including “whether the average person applying contemporary community standards would find the work, taken as a whole, appeals to the prurient interest, whether the work depicts or describes, in a patently offensive way, sexual conduct specifically defined by the applicable state law, and whether the work, taken as a whole, lacks serious literary, artistic, political or scientific value.”

Although producing and distributing sexual content is currently legal in the U.S., Lee’s bill seeks to reinstate the obscenity rules that were established in the Communications Act of 1934. These rules include removing content that “appeals to the prurient interest in nudity, sex, or excretion, depicts, describes, or represents actual or simulated sexual acts with the objective intent to arouse, titillate, or gratify the sexual desires of a person, and, … lacks serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value,” the IODA says.

This bill will be particularly detrimental to the porn industry which relies solely on what the bill defines as “obscene content.” The Free Speech Coalition tweeted its concern for the First Amendment on Thursday, arguing the bill is a renewed attempt by conservatives to censor free speech and sexual expression.

The director of public affairs with the Free Speech Coalition, Mike Stabile, told VICE News, “This bill, among our members, has gotten a huge amount of attention. Our members understand this for what it is: It’s a threat to their business, to their livelihood. It’s a threat to their community.”

First, it was abortion. Since they can’t go after gay marriage, it seems like conservatives are going after adult pornography.

Here’s another article that goes into a bit more on what this would mean:


Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, introduced a bill last week that would redefine obscenity under the Communications Act of 1934.

  • It would define it as content that depicts “actual or simulated sexual acts with the objective intent to arouse, titillate, or gratify the sexual desires of a person” and lacks artistic or scientific value, according to a summary of the bill released by Lee.

Yes, but: Some porn industry leaders fear it could criminalize online pornography in the U.S.

Background: Obscene materials are not protected by the First Amendment.

  • Federal and state courts determine whether content is obscene by using a three-pronged approach called the Miller test, named after the 1973 U.S. Supreme Court case Miller v. California.
  • The test asks whether the average person would find the material, taken as a whole, appealing to “prurient interest”; whether it’s depicted in “a patently offensive way” and whether it lacks “serious literary, artistic, political or scientific value.”
  • Under the Miller test, according to the bill’s summary, obscenity is difficult to define, let alone prosecute.

What they’re saying: “It would basically criminalize 99% of nudity and sexually explicit content,” Mike Stabile, director of public affairs for the Free Speech Coalition, a trade association for the adult entertainment industry, told Axios.

  • Stabile said the bill is “tremendously scary” for sex workers who create adult content online.
  • Stabile said he doesn’t believe the bill has a chance of moving forward, but said people should take it seriously.

Of note: A spokesperson for Lee did not respond to Axios’ request for comment.

The latest: Lee also introduced legislation last week that would require commercial porn websites to use age verification technology to bar children from accessing the content, the Deseret News reported.

Flashback: In 2016, Utah became the first state in the nation to declare pornography “a public health crisis.” By 2019, more than a dozen GOP-led states had declared similar resolutions, per USA Today.

  • In 2017, then-Gov. Gary Herbert signed a bill that would allow parties to sue porn companies if children who viewed pornography were harmed by it.

This bill would effectively kill free speech with regard to anything sexually explicit, as it would attempt to take the obscenity doctrine from a ‘state-by-state’ application to an across-the-board one.

Conservatism truly is a disease. I can’t fathom how you can claim to be in favor of free expression or free speech, whining and moaning about being banned from Facebook or Twitter for saying something homophobic or racist.

It comes from the belief that sexually-oriented expression is not as valuable or necessary as other forms of speech, including hate speech (which is arguably harmful). They believe that sexually-oriented speech must be in-line with a presumed majoritarian preference, which is patently antithetical to the concept of free speech.
The problem with this position is that it’s unfounded, and that it cannot be applied with uniformity or even objectivity. Even the most offensive and unpopular materials or depictions are worthy of the same protection as run-of-the-mill or garden-variety explicit and graphic contents.

No one will argue that people should be allowed to expose themselves in public or that pornography should be publicly displayed on billboards, or that adult-oriented businesses should be zoned to operate near schools, but these guys take it a step beyond that to argue that sexual morality itself needs to be reigned in, a claim with absolutely zero facts to back it up. They claim that it’s about preserving morality, but the freedom of speech is not designed to accommodate moral viewpoints for their own sake.
Moral viewpoints are fine and valid, but they’re ultimately still just viewpoints, and without the necessary harm to justify a law furthering it, then the harm caused by its imposition cannot be justified.

Sacrificing or butchering your own ideals for the sake of accommodating popular or voracious moral viewpoints inherently undermines the concept itself, a fact we’ve seen when conservatives have attempted to take the Miller Test and apply it to violent materials or images, both within and outside the limited intended scope of accessibility by children.

The broad incompatibility between conservative ideals and the freedom of expression is centered around the fact that the freedom of expression is a liberal invention, and conservatism would otherwise not entertain it, hence why they prefer to warp the definition to accommodate their wishes.

The obscenity doctrine was a mistake. It is on the same degree of ‘wrongness’ as ‘Separate but Equal’ and sodomy laws. It is a draconian, egregious violation of our civil liberties, and has caused irreparable harm to society as a whole.


I doubt it will pass. If the child sex doll bill did not pass, this one won’t either. I know Miller has problems, but I would rather have Miller than something that creates certainty and says it’s all prohibited.


Wait, what image? Deleted?


Also, there’s nothing like reading philosophically charged comments made by people whose avatars show lolis being decimated by ugly old men. It’s hilarious.


It was a meme containing an explicit image depicting breasts.

Super ironic seeing that level of moderation in a thread bashing censorship, I know, but this IS a public forum for a charity, and I’d rather explicit imagery not be shown here, even if spoilered.

There are other places for it. We’re against censorship, but we do support a platform’s right to moderate user-generated content.

I could be convinced to revert the change. What do you think, @elliot ?


I didn’t see the image, but I think if it’s spoilered and a description of what it contains is included, it’s probably alright. From what I’ve seen people here are smart enough to make healthy decisions about what they do and don’t look at.

A good compromise might be allowing a spoilered link to it, with a content warning. I know we’ve allowed links to explicit content in the past as long as they were presented that way.

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Right. I’ll revert the change and add a warning, then.

@Jigsy please disregard the direct message I sent earlier!


Perhaps a quote from John Stuart Mill is needed from: John Stuart Mill - Wikiquote

What I stated was, that the Conservative party was, by the law of its constitution, necessarily the stupidest party. Now, I do not retract this assertion; but I did not mean that Conservatives are generally stupid; I meant, that stupid persons are generally Conservative. I believe that to be so obvious and undeniable a fact that I hardly think any hon. Gentleman will question it. Now, if any party, in addition to whatever share it may possess of the ability of the community, has nearly the whole of its stupidity, that party, I apprehend, must by the law of its constitution be the stupidest party. And I do not see why hon. Gentlemen should feel that position at all offensive to them; for it ensures their being always an extremely powerful party.

The part in bold is not my doing, it was already that way on the page. Also, “hon.” probably means “honorable”.


I think that the message came too late because now that message is gone entirely.


But please remember that, while one side may use the word, “degenerate”, there is another side that uses the word, “problematic”. In many ways, appealing to pity is a more virulent poison than appealing to tradition.


The image got censored, which totally defeted the purpose of it.

So I deleted it. :person_shrugging:

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You can post the full image, so long as you spoiler it, like I do with my dakimakura images. Like so: