Sex Publication and Moral Corruption

Elias, Erwin A.
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William & Mary Law Review

“The danger of influencing a change in the current moral standards of the community, or of shocking or offending readers, or of stimulating sex thoughts or desires apart from objective conduct, can never justify the losses to society that result from interference with literary freedom.”

The purpose of this article is to examine this proposition and its ramifications. If, in fact, the state does not have a legitimate interest in protecting its citizens from being shocked and offended, or sexually aroused, or morally corrupted, what conceivable purpose can the state have in attempting to regulate and suppress publications because of the manner in which they deal with sex? The relationship between publications and overt conduct has not been and probably can never be established, at least not in any clear and present danger sense. On the other hand if the state does have an interest in, for example, maintaining the moral standards of the community, how has this interest been accommodated by the Court with the First Amendment values involved? Has this accommodation been realistic?

Literary freedom, Moral standards, Sexual expression
9 Wm. & Mary L. Rev. 302