Miles-tones

Four Musicians Roth Vs. U.S. Would Have Jailed (NSFW)

Standing up for the First Amendement is a hard row to hoe sometimes. Sure, it's fun when you can defend someone like Marilyn Manson, but it's a lot less fun when you realize you also have to defend people like the Westboro Baptist Church. Thems the breaks, though. If you're going to have freedom you're going to have to deal with it.

Lucky for us, for 16 years Americans weren't bothered with this dilemma because the Supreme Court took a pretty significant portion of your right to free speech away. This week, 54 years ago, the court handed down the 6-3 decision in Roth vs. United States that said that material whose "dominant theme taken as a whole appeals to the prurient interest" was not protected under the First Amendment.

The case that brought about this decision, thankfully gone to rest after a 1973 ruling that stated obscenity is indeed protected by free speech, was one against a man named Samuel Roth. Roth was the publisher of a magazine called American Aphrodite that specialized in literary erotica and nude pictures. Roth was convicted on an obscenity charge in California, and the case made its way up from there.

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Jef Rouner (not cis, he/him) is a contributing writer who covers politics, pop culture, social justice, video games, and online behavior. He is often a professional annoyance to the ignorant and hurtful.
Contact: Jef Rouner