That quality in words or things which presents what is offensive to chastity or purity of mind; obscene or impure lanquage or acts; moral impurity; lewdness; obsceneness; as, the obscenity of a speech, or a picture.
In the context of criminal law a term used to describe a publication which is illegal because it is morally corruptive. The common law has struggled with this word as society evolves towards greater tolerance of alternative sexual behavior. Historically, it included any lewd material which had no apparent social value, which was offensive to contemporary community standards of decency, and even material which tended to invoke impure sexual thoughts. All of these measurements are very subjective and the community standard of obscenity is frequently at odds with the right of free speech.
something that is indecent and offensive. Obscene material is usually of an explicit sexual nature. A current national debate concerns the proliferation of obscene material over the Internet, and whether it should be censored. Those who oppose censorship often cite free speech, although in 1957 the Supreme Court ruled that obscenity was not protected under the First Amendment. However, one of the problems is that a workable definition of obscenity is hard to come by. Is something obscene, as some argue, if it violates "community standards"? But this begs the question of which community one is talking about, since standards are not uniform throughout the country, nor, perhaps, are they so within different segments of the same community.