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Obscenity (in Latin obscenus, meaning "foul, repulsive, detestable"), is a term that is most often used in a legal context to describe expressions (words, images, actions) that offend the prevalent sexual morality of the time. It is often replaced by the word salaciousness. Despite its long formal and informal use with a sexual connotation, the word still retains the meanings of "inspiring disgust" and even "inauspicious; ill-omened", as in such uses as "obscene profits", "the obscenity of war", etc. It can simply be used to mean profanity, or it can mean anything that is taboo, indecent, abhorrent, or disgusting.

The definition of obscenity differs from culture to culture, between communities within a single culture, and also between individuals within those communities. Many cultures have produced laws to define what is considered to be obscene, and censorship is often used to try to suppress or control materials that are obscene under these definitions: usually including, but not limited to, pornographic material. As such censorship restricts freedom of expression, crafting a legal definition of obscenity presents a civil liberties issue.

Updated 16/06/2008 
"raunchy and juvenile" says wife

Obscenity trial stopped after judge's 'porn website' blocked

12/06/2008

An American judge suspended an obscenity trial after it emerged he had posted sexually explicit material on his website.

Alex Kozinski, chief judge of the 9th US circuit court of appeals, agreed to a 48-hour suspension.  It came after jurors spent hours watching videos of alleged sexual activity in the trial of Ira Isaacs, 57, who is charged with four obscenity counts. The Los Angeles Times reported the judge had posted sexual material on his website and then blocked access after he was interviewed by the newspaper on Tuesday.
 
The images included a "half-dressed man cavorting with a farm animal" and a picture of nude women on all fours painted to look like cows, the newspaper said. Judge Kozinski told the Times he was unaware that photographs posted on his website could be viewed by the public and that he had removed the pictures. He was quoted by the Times as saying he did not believe any of the images on the site qualified as obscene. "Is it prurient? I don't know what to tell you," he said. "I think it's odd and interesting. It's part of life." Before his website was blocked, visitors saw a message saying: "Ain't nothin' here. Y'all best be movin' on, compadre."

The Times said he declined to comment when asked if he felt he should now excuse himself from hearing the trial of Mr Isaacs, a Los Angeles-based film-maker accused of selling criminally obscene sexual fetish videos.

Isaccs, 57, faces up to 20 years in jail and fines of £1 million if convicted on multiple counts of importing or transporting obscene material for sale or distribution. The prosecution had opened the case by stating: "These movies are not considered to be typical or ordinary pornography or consensual sex between adults." The films were "vile, perverted and profane to such an extent they are outside your community standards." However, defence lawyer Roger Jon Diamond said Mr Isaacs was a "shock artist" who would testify to the artistic merits of the films.

Judge's wife calls Web porn story 'outright lies'

June 16 2008 - Michael R Blood

 A federal appeals court judge under scrutiny for sexually explicit videos and photos posted on a personal Web site is the victim of distortions and "outright lies" published by the Los Angeles Times, his wife charged Monday.

Marcy Jane Tiffany, wife of 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Chief Judge Alex Kozinski, described some of the material stored on the home computer as raunchy and juvenile. Only about a half-dozen files among hundreds had a "sexual aspect," but they were not pornography, she said.

"Alex is not into porn - he is into funny - and sometimes funny has a sexual character," Tiffany wrote in a nearly 2,000-word defense of her husband, posted on a Web site .

In a brief telephone interview, Tiffany confirmed that she wrote the statement and declined further comment, except to quote the late Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan of New York, "Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts."

The newspaper's California editor, David Lauter, said in a statement that the articles were fair and accurate.

The stories "raised important issues on a matter of significant public concern," Lauter said. "The judge was presented with the facts ... and was given a full opportunity to respond."

Meanwhile Monday, U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts transferred a review of Kozinski's conduct to the judicial council of a different circuit. The chairman of the judicial council of the Philadelphia-based 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals, Chief Judge Anthony Scirica, then named himself and four other judges to handle the ethics investigation.

Kozinski called for the probe after news articles about the Web site were published. Separately, Kozinski last week declared a mistrial in an obscenity trial over which he was presiding.

One of the pictures believed to have been found on the Judge's web-site
One of the pictures allegedly found on Judge Kozinski's web site
The now-blocked material on the Web site, alex.kozinski.com, included a photo of naked women on all fours painted to look like cows (above), and a video of a man being pursued by a sexually aroused donkey. The Times said the site included images of masturbation, and a slide show featuring a striptease with a transsexual.

See also
Ex-Judge Convicted of Indecent Exposure 
Evidence rules sufficient in penis pump case  
US penis pump judge appeals

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