Quotations about   obscenity

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We remark with pain that the indecent foreign dance called the Waltz was introduced (we believe, for the first time) at the English Court on Friday last. This is a circumstance which ought not to be passed over in silence. National morals depend on national habits: and it is quite sufficient to cast one’s eyes on the voluptuous intertwining of the limbs, and close compressure of the bodies, in this dance, to see that it is far indeed removed from the modest reserve which has hitherto been considered distinctive of English females. So long as this obscene display was confined to prostitutes and adulteresses, we did not think it deserving of notice; but now that it is attempted to be forced on the respectable classes of society by the evil example of their superiors, we feel it a duty to warn every parent against exposing his daughter to so foul a contagion. Amicus Plato sed mogis amica veritas. We pay a due deference to our superiors in rank, but we owe a higher duty to morality. We know not how it has happened (probably by the recommendation of some worthless and ignorant French dancing-master) that so indecent a dance now has for the first time been exhibited at the English court; but the novelty is one deserving of severe reprobation, and we trust it will never again be tolerated in any moral English society.

Other Authors and Sources
“Dance Called the Waltz,” The Times of London, 2nd printing (16 Jul 1816)
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After the "introduction" of the waltz at a London Ball given by the Prince Regent. The dance had actually been present in London dance studios since 1812, and waltz music had come across from Europe earlier than that.

The Latin means "Plato I love, but I love Truth more," attributed to Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics, 1096a.15.
Added on 29-Mar-21 | Last updated 29-Mar-21
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Senator Smoot is an institute
Not to be bribed with pelf;
He guards our homes from erotic tomes
By reading them all himself.

Ogden Nash (1902-1971) American poet
“Invocation,” New Yorker (Jan 1930)
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Nash's poem was about US Senator Reed Smoot (R-Utah) (1862-1941), who had announced an effort in his tariff bill to ban the importation of pornography, leading to headlines of "Smoot Smites Smut." The bill went on to become the Smoot-Hawley Tariff, passed in June 1930.
Added on 18-Sep-20 | Last updated 18-Sep-20
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Good authors, too, who once knew better words
Now only use four-letter words
Writing prose.
Anything goes!

Cole Porter (1891-1964) American composer and songwriter
“Anything Goes” (1934)
Added on 30-Apr-20 | Last updated 30-Apr-20
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In olden days, a glimpse of stocking
Was looked on as something shocking,
But now, God knows,
Anything goes.

porter-anything-goes-wist_info-quote

Cole Porter (1891-1964) American composer and songwriter
“Anything Goes” (1934)
Added on 19-Jan-17 | Last updated 19-Jan-17
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As for language, almost everything goes now. That is not to say that verbal taboos have disappeared, but merely that they have shifted somewhat. In my youth, for example, there were certain words you couldn’t say in front of a girl; now you can say them, but you can’t say “girl.”

Tom Lehrer (b. 1928) American mathematician, satirist, songwriter
“In His Own Words: On Life, Lyrics and Liberals,” Washington Post (3 Jan 1982)
Added on 3-Nov-16 | Last updated 3-Nov-16
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You know that prudery is only the other side of prurience. The words are even on the same page in the dictionary.

Isaac Asimov (1920-1992) Russian-American author, polymath, biochemist
The Gods Themselves, Sec. 3, ch. 12 (1972)
Added on 19-Jul-16 | Last updated 19-Jul-16
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Thus, if the First Amendment means anything in the field, it must allow protests even against the moral code that the standard of the day sets for the community. In other words, literature should not be suppressed merely because it offends the moral code of the censor.

William O. Douglas (1898-1980) US Supreme Court justice (1939-75)
Roth v. United States, 354 U.S. 476, dissenting opinion (1957)
Added on 24-May-16 | Last updated 24-May-16
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SIMON: I swear — when it’s appropriate.

KAYLEE: Simon, the whole point of swearing is that it ain’t appropriate.

Ben Edlund (b. 1968) American cartoonist, writer, producer
Firefly, 1×07 “Jaynestown” (18 Oct 2002)
Added on 11-Jun-15 | Last updated 11-Jun-15
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The Law is a blunt instrument. It’s not a scalpel. It’s a club. If there is something you consider indefensible, and there is something you consider defensible, and the same laws can take them both out, you are going to find yourself defending the indefensible.

Neil Gaiman (b. 1960) British fabulist
Neil Gaiman’s Journal, “Why defend freedom of icky speech?” (1 Dec 2008)
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Added on 19-Jan-15 | Last updated 19-Jan-15
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“Holy shit,” I breathed. “Hellhounds.”
“Harry,” Michael said sternly. “You know I hate it when you swear.”
“You’re right. Sorry. Holy shit,” I breathed, “heckhounds.”

Jim Butcher (b. 1971) American author
Grave Peril (2001)
Added on 22-Jul-14 | Last updated 22-Jul-14
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You ask, What makes it worth defending? and the only answer I can give is this: Freedom to write, freedom to read, freedom to own material that you believe is worth defending means you’re going to have to stand up for stuff you don’t believe is worth defending, even stuff you find actively distasteful, because laws are big blunt instruments that do not differentiate between what you like and what you don’t, because prosecutors are humans and bear grudges and fight for re-election, because one person’s obscenity is another person’s art. Because if you don’t stand up for the stuff you don’t like, when they come for the stuff you do like, you’ve already lost.

Neil Gaiman (b. 1960) British fabulist
Neil Gaiman’s Journal, “Why defend freedom of icky speech?” (1 Dec 2008 )
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Added on 30-Dec-08 | Last updated 9-Jan-15
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Murder is a crime. Describing murder is not.
Sex is not a crime. Describing sex is.

Gershon Legman (1917-1999) American writer
Love & Death: A Study in Censorship (1949)
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 14-Jun-16
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