Thursday, June 21, 2012

...but I'll know it when I see it, Miller v. California and Obscene Drinks

On this day in 1973, the Supreme Court handed down their decision in Miller v. California and established the Miller Test for obscenity in U.S. law.

Miller v. California brought the question before the court as to whether or not the sale and distribution of obscene material (i.e. hardcore pornography) was protected under the First Amendment's guarantee of Freedom of Speech. The court ruled that it was not, but acknowledged "the inherent dangers of undertaking to regulate any form of expression," and that "State statutes designed to regulate obscene materials must be carefully limited."

Leaving the regulation of obscenity to the individual states, the court issued the Miller Test as guidlines to use in what would be considered obscene or not in the eyes of the court, thus negating the phrase, "I can't tell you what obscenity is, but I know it when I see it."

Here is the 3 part Miller Test:

  1. whether the average person, applying contemporary community standards, would find that the work, taken as a whole, appeals to the prurient interest;
  2. whether the work depicts or describes, in a patently offensive way, sexual conduct or excretory functions specifically defined by applicable state law; 
  3. "whether the work, taken as a whole, lacks serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value."

The controversy continues, as it has always done, with the works of Robert Mapplethorpe as a recent example. I do believe, that the days of banning books (think James Joyce, D.H. Lawrence, Henry Miller) for obscenity reasons has passed. (Think 50 Shades of Grey)

While not recommending any single drink today, let's toast to the dirty, nearly obscene drinks.
Pick one that appeals to your prurient interests and (applying contemporary community standards of course) preferably one that "taken as a whole, lacks serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value."

The Historical Inebriant:  Dirty Drinks          

Truly Filthy Drink Names

13 Dirty Drink Recipes: Cocktail Names That Should Not Be Uttered at a Work Conference

David Vance has written a veritable compendium titled
"Cocktails and Shooters with Dirty Names"  you can preview it here

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