Dictionary.com defines it as
1. offensive to morality or decency; indecent; depraved: obscene language.
2. causing uncontrolled sexual desire.
3. abominable; disgusting; repulsive.
Wikipedia goes through
the history of obscenity laws in the U.S. The 1973 Miller v. California
case seems to have created the standard used today by the courts. That standard asks these three questions:
* the average person, applying contemporary community standards (not national standards, as some prior tests required), must find that the work, taken as a whole, appeals to the prurient interest;
* the work depicts or describes, in a patently offensive way, sexual conduct or excretory functions specifically defined by applicable state law; and
* the work, taken as a whole, lacks serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value.
What I find interesting is that the First Amendment changes based upon the community in which you live. Not only is that concept a little bizarre, but you have two impossible terms to define: community and standard. Is a community your household, the street you live on, the neighborhood, the HOA, the city, the county, or the state? Whose standard are you using? Is there a majority vote in that "community" that determines each photo, DVD or magazine?
Which brings me to this interesting case of "child pornography".
Chistopher Handley was arrested for buying comic books from Japan that depicted minors engaging in sexual conduct. Comic books! No actual photos, just drawings. Should he spend 20 years in prison for buying cartoons? When does it go from art to a crime?