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Let’s Put Pornography Back In the Closet

“Let’s Put Pornography Back In the Closet” is an article written by Susan Brownmiller who was a renown feminist activist. She believes that pornography is abusive and degrading towards the woman. She further argues that pornography ought not to be protected in the First Amendments. Contemporary community standards is a level used to test descriptions of sexual matters.  This test should not be resolute by one standard and another and from time to time. This paper examines how Susan Brownmiller essay defines the essay and her arguments on the issue of the right of the minority.

Miller test was developed during the Miller v. California in 1973 and had three parts. The first part tests whether the average individual, applying modern community standard would find that the exertion, petitions to the indecent interest. The second part was whether the exertion describes or depicts, in a deliberately offensive way, excretory functions or sexual conduct specifically distinct by applicable state law. The third part is whether the exertion, taken as a complete, lacks serious political, scientific, literary or artistic value (Weis 248). This exertion is considered obscene as long as all three circumstances are satisfied. From a different point of view, the first two parts of the test are alleged to the standards of the community, and the last part is alleged to what is reasonable to an individual of the United States as broad. The national rational individual standard on the third part perform as a check on the community value of the first two parts, thus allowing fortification for works that in a particular community might be deliberated obscene but on a federal level might have redeeming standard (Weis 245). The tests are critical because they allow the community standard instead of a federal standard. In other words, what offends the normal individual in Manhattan, Kansas, might be contrary to what the average individual in Manhattan, New York.

Miller argues that First amendment requires national community standard. From a different point of view, First amendment does not need a national community standard. This means that people of Mississippi or Main ought to accept community standards of New York or Las Vegas.  Another Miller’s concern was the interpretation of the term ‘average’ individual finds offensive instead of what the more rational individual in the community is upset by, as obscenity was distinct by the former test, the Hickling test.

However, Miller’s perception may lead to greater censorship. The tests allows the community demands and standards serious value and it would be easier to suppress expression and speech. Millers worry was that the previous test demanding whether the expression or speech was ‘completely without compensatory social value.’ Nevertheless, Miller’s tests makes it hard to outlaw any kind of expression. Moreover, Miller’s perception may have an issue of jurisdiction in the internet era. The development of the internet has caused the community standards prongs of the test even harder to judge. When a material is circulated on a web server in a particular place, it can be read by an audience residing anywhere else. This raises the question as to which authority should apply.


Works Cited

Weis, Brianna. “Meaningful Opportunity for Release: Parole Board Standards for Juveniles Under the Graham, Miller, and the Eight Amendment.” SSRN Electronic Journal, 2019.


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