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I know it when I see it

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By John Pawlak

In 1964, when the U.S. Supreme Court was reviewing an obscenity case (Jacobellis vs. Ohio), Justice Potter Stewart was asked to define pornography.  He said, “It’s hard to define, but I know it when I see it.” 

Well now, is this true today? Obscenity has taken on many forms and one is hard pressed to not only define it, but to recognize it as such.

We all know that there’s a line that you can’t cross. When “Scarface” was aired on network television, the F-word was muted out ... all 226 times.  However, the network did not censor the killing of 28 people.

They didn’t censor the splattering of blood as Tony’s friend was sliced up with a chainsaw. Saying the F-word is vulgar. Slicing and dicing people is just entertainment.

Prior to this year’s Super Bowl, a PETA commercial designed to promote vegetarianism that features sexy, lingerie-clad models stroking various fresh-from-the-garden edibles has been deemed too suggestive by NBC and was not aired. 

Even professional sports understand the need to set limits on what is and isn’t decent, right? Ah ... well, one week after the game, Sports Illustrated released its Swimsuit Edition – complete with scantily clad iconic beauties that encapsulate the best that sports has to offer.


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