Judging Obscenity: A Critical History of Expert Evidence

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McGill-Queen's Press - MQUP, 2003 - Law - 285 pages
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In Judging Obscenity Christopher Nowlin examines expert evidence in North American obscenity trials and reveals how little consensus there is among those who purport to know best about the nature of artistic representation, human sexuality, and the psychological and behavioral effects of reading, writing, or watching explicit sexual narratives and imagery. He demonstrates that these communities of experts are divided on such questions as, Can a novel or film be both high art and obscene? and, Is the world of heterosexual pornography categorically different from the worlds of gay and lesbian pornography? He observes that the ideas of an "average" psychological or behavioral response to a story or an image and the "community" standard of decency or tolerance are outmoded myths that elude all attempts at careful measurement. Nowlin concludes that lack of agreement among experts, for example, as to how and why some sexually explicit imagery titillates or pleases some people, while disgusting or demeaning others, can no longer be viewed simply in terms of moral, religious, or even political predilections. Judging Obscenity traces the way freedom of speech and the right to equality have taken shape within the worlds of pornographic expression and consumption and provides a historical glimpse of changing views about literature and art, as well as a critical examination of the nature of social science research in matters of human sexuality, media-response, and sexual expression.
 

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Contents

The Constitutional Backdrop for Reviewing Expert Opinions about Pornography
3
Progressivism and Legislative Facts in the Shaping of Public Policy
25
Experts and Obscenity Law American Rules and Innovations 18841990
47
Experts and Obscenity Law Canadian Rules and Derivations 19422000
85
From Sadomasochism to Child Pornography Experts Narrow Their Focus While Canadian Courts Broaden Their Horizons
133
Indecency Law Microscopic and Macroscopic Views of the Female Breast and LapDancing in the Dark
210
Conclusion
221
Notes
227
Bibliography
265
List of Cases
275
Index
279
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About the author (2003)

Christopher Nowlin, a barrister in Vancouver, British Columbia, practises in the areas of criminal and constitutional law, both as a trial and appellate lawyer, and has taught at Keele University, UK, and at Simon Fraser University

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