Virtually Obscene

The Case for an Uncensored Internet


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About the Book

Free porn. The phrase conjures images of search engine scams, computer viruses and spam emails. It also hints at an important debate—not over cost-free porn, per se, but over a regulation-free internet. As internet usage exploded in the 1990s, so too did the utopian vision of universal access to unregulated information. Differing ideas of obscenity and the United States government’s dominion over the web, though, have forced a serious dilemma, centered on internet pornography, that involves regulation, freedom of information, first amendment rights, feminism and morality.
This book examines the phenomenon of internet pornography, demonstrating how that debate is an important case study in the wider argument over internet regulation. Chapters objectively uncover the flaws of the most common arguments for and against regulation, and examine efforts to regulate the internet; community standards of obscenity as grounds for regulation; the free speech debate; and harm to children, women and the moral environment. The author offers a final analysis that regulation of sexually explicit materials is ultimately futile, and that the utility of an unregulated internet outweighs arguments against regulated sexually explicit materials.

About the Author(s)

Amy E. White is an assistant professor of philosophy at Ohio University in Zanesville, Ohio.

Bibliographic Details

Amy E. White
Foreword by Nadine Strossen]
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 188
Bibliographic Info: notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2006
pISBN: 978-0-7864-2801-4
eISBN: 978-1-4766-1173-0
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments      vi

Foreword by Nadine Strossen      1

Introduction      3

1. The Unknown Territory and the Quest to Tame the Internet Beast      11

2. The Failure of Current Legislation: Obscenity and Community Standards in the United States      27

3. Why Free Speech Alone Should Not Protect Internet Obscenity and Pornography      49

4. Harm to Children      69

5. Harm to Women      89

6. Harm to the Moral Environment and Offense      109

7. Regulation: A Bad Idea      127

Chapter Notes      149

Bibliography      169

Index      177

Book Reviews & Awards

“solid scholarship…highly recommended”—Catholic Library World; “powerful and informative”—Emerald Journal; “impressive”—Feliciter.