Degradation: What the History of Obscenity Tells Us about Hate Speech

Front Cover
NYU Press, Jan 10, 2011 - Law - 255 pages
0 Reviews

Throughout history obscenity has not really been about sex but about degradation. Sexual depictions have been suppressed when they were seen as lowering the status of humans, furthering our distance from the gods or God and moving us toward the animals. In the current era, when we recognize ourselves and both humans and animals, sexual depiction has lost some of its sting. Its degrading role has been replaced by hate speech that distances groups, whether based on race, ethnicity, gender, or sexual orientation, not only from God but from humanity to a subhuman level.

In this original study of the relationship between obscenity and hate speech, First Amendment specialist Kevin W. Saunders traces the legal trajectory of degradation as it moved from sexual depiction to hateful speech. Looking closely at hate speech in several arenas, including racist, homophobic, and sexist speech in the workplace, classroom, and other real-life scenarios, Saunders posits that if hate speech is today’s conceptual equivalent of obscenity, then the body of law that dictated obscenity might shed some much-needed light on what may or may not qualify as punishable hate speech.

 

What people are saying - Write a review

We haven't found any reviews in the usual places.

Contents

1 Introduction
1
2 Pornography Life and the Gods in the Greek and Roman Eras
7
3 The Arrival of Christianity
27
4 The Modern Era
49
5 A Look at Other Cultures
75
6 What about Hate Speech?
99
7 Using Obscenity Doctrine to Address Hate Speech
123
8 Applications
147
9 Variable Obscenity Children and Hate
167
10 Conclusion
193
Notes
197
Index
235
About the Author
243
Copyright

Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

About the author (2011)

Kevin W. Saunders is Charles Clarke Chair in Constitutional Law at Michigan State University College of Law. He is the author of Violence as Obscenity: Limiting the Media's First Amendment Protection and Saving Our Children from the First Amendment (NYU Press, 2003).

Bibliographic information