FEBRUARY 27. 1987/MONTROSE VOICE 21
Obscenity Standards Still
Troubling the High Court
Lea Richards as Sophie Tuckerman, Mike Groblewski as Nicholas Denery
and Jim Walser as Nina Denery in a scene from The Autumn Garden
gerac, Jean Harlow, John Moray
Stuart-Young. 4 —Miriam Makeba,
Knute Rockne, Mary Wilson. 5—
Michael Rumaker, Andy Gibb, Rex Harrison.
"My people don't lisp ... they just are
... I'm one of them right there. ... If
you take me, you've go to take the whole
thing."—Lou Reed in Rolling Stone
(born March 2)
Autumn Garden (First Unitarian, 27)—
Channing Players present a tale of New
Brighton Beach Memoirs (Actors
Workshop, 27)—the first play in Neil
Simon's autobiographical trilogy
The Enchanted Cottage (Theater
Southwest, 27)—romantic comedy-
Let's Murder Marsha (Theater Suburbia, 27)—broad comedy
McDowell, Shannon, Sweeney
(Comix Annex, 27)
Ed Wilson and Mary An Papenek-
Miller (Art league of Houston, 27)—his
steel and wood sculptures, her mixed
media exploration of the relationships
between men and animals.
Grand Night Parade—Momus Sails
the Caribbean! (Seawall to the Strand.
Galveston, 28, 6:30)—Freebies. ONO!
The Glass Menagerie (Stages, 28)—A
man remembers the two powerful
women—his mother and his sister—
whom he eventually had to flee.
Art of Augustin Bossio (University of
St. Thomas' Crooker Gallery, 28)
Cecille Ousset, pianist (Jones, 1)—
Garcia Navarro conducts the HSO.
Outlaw Comics Get Religion, Again!
(Comedy Workshop, 2)—ONO!
Ballet Eddy Toussaint de Montreal
(Jones, 3 and 4)—Houston debut sponsored by Society for the Performing Arts
Biloxi Blues (Music Hall, 3-8)—
Second in Simon's autobiography.
Sybill Estess, poet (UST Bookstore,
4)—reads from her works, "Seeing the
Desert Green." ONO!
Mark C. Martino (Stages, 4)—Stages'
composer in residence presents incidental pieces from past plays and two world
premieres, including a requiem mass.
The Immigrant—A Hamilton County
Album (Alley, 5)—about a Russian
immigrant who came to Texas via Galveston
THE VIET NAM
3215 Main St. at Elgin
Lunch Buffet M-F 11:30-2:30
$3.75 All You Can Eat
Your Host and Bartender Andy Mills
Open ll:30-Midnight Sun.-Thurs.
11:30-2:00 a.m. Fri. & Sat.
I 10% Discount with this Coupon on All Menu
By Andrea Neal
WASHINGTON (UPI)—The Supreme
Court is still grappling with the meaning of obscenity 23 years after Justice
Potter Stewart's proclamation that he
could not define pornography, "but I
know it when I see it."
The latest controversy involves an
Illinois law that allows juries to apply
community standards in determining if
an allegedly obscene work has redeeming literary, artistic or social value.
The court was to hear arguments in
the case last Tuesday from Illinois officials, who consider the law a useful tool
for fighting pornography, and First
Amendment advocates, who fear the
law could lead to the banning of such
pre-eminent works as James Joyce's
"It's probably the most significant
obscenity case the court has heard since
WACO, Texas (UPI)-The Waco
Tribune-Herald has joined a Salt Lake
City newspaper in pulling this week's
Doonesbury comic strip concerning a
television ad campaign dealing with
AIDS and "safe sex."
The editor Monday said this week's
series about condoms inappropriately
comments on the acquired immune deficiency syndrome epidemic.
"I just didn't think it was an appropriate kind of humor," said Bob I_,ott, editor of the Waco Tribune-Herald. "Just
the idea of humor based on a subject as
tragic as AIDS is out of kilter."
The comic strip by Garry Trudeau
this week does not mention the word
condom. In one panel, an advertising
executive recommends substituting the
word "condo" for "the unmentionable
Lott called the series, "good satire,"
but decided to pull the strip this week
because "the underlying element here is
the AIDS tragedy."
Lee Salem, editorial director of Universal Press Syndicate in Kansas City,
Mo., which distributes Doonesbury to
900 newspapers, said the Deseret News
in Salt I^ke City also decided against
running the strip, and a Wisconsin
newspaper moved the strip from its
comic page to the editorial page.
Wm. James Mortimer, editor and publisher of the Salt Lake City newspaper,
said he found the strip objectionable.
"The sexual and contraceptive material presented does not meet the standards of a family newspaper. These are
sensitive and important issues in
today's society but inappropriate for the
comic pages, where readers of all ages
are attracted," Mortimer said.
The Mormon Church tells its
members to abstain from sex outside of
marriage, and opposes sex for pleasurable rather than procreative purposes.
The church also excommunicates homosexuals, one of the prime risk groups for
The Waco paper ran a story Monday
explaining its decision not to use the
strip. Lott said about a dozen calls had
been received protesting the move.
"We're not that uptight about running things that may be objectionable,"
Lott said. "Certainly condom usage is
such that it should be covered in a newspaper.
Miller vs. California," said Irwin Karp,
who represents Volunteer Lawyers for
the Arts, a non-profit group that advises
artists on First Amendment matters.
In the landmark 1973 Miller ruling, a
majority of justices for the first time
agreed on a standard for determining
what is obscene material subject to state
This year's case. Karp said, will determine "what degree of protection is
going to be provided literary and artistic works of significant value. We think
that were the prevailing community
standard to apply, the protection for
important works of social commentary
would be completely diluted in some
parts of the country."
Obscenity has proven to beoneof the
most troubling constitutional questions
for the court. The justices repeatedly
have said obscenity is not worthy of
First Amendment protection but have
failed to come up with a simple definition for obscenity.
In 1964, the court ruled that a French
film, "The I_overs," did not violate an
Ohio obscenity statute, but the justices
were unable to agree upon an opinion
supporting the decision.
The case prompted Stewart's oft-
quoted observation that he knew pornography when he saw it, "and the motion
picture involved in this case is not that."
In Miller vs. California, the court said
a book, magazine, movie or work of art
may be deemed obscene if it appeals to
the prurient interest, describes sexual
conduct in a "patently offensive" way
and—as a whole—lacks literary, artistic, political or scientific value.
Until now, most lower courts have
ruled that the first two prongs of the test
should be based on community standards, but the redeeming value of a work
must be judged according to objective
David Goldstein of the American
Civil Liberties Union said applying
community standards to the third part
of the test would limit free expression.
"I can imagine juries condemning
Ulysses' today just like they did 60
years ago and that's one of the great
books of the 20th century," Goldstein
"Ulysses," based on Homer's "Odyssey," was banned in the United States
from 1921 until 1933 after charges of
obscenity were leveled against it. The
book is now considered among the great
works of world literature.
Illinois Assistant Attorney General
Mark Rotert says there is no such thing
as an objective standard for determining if a work has social value.
It is unrealistic "to read the First
Amendment as requiring that the people of Maine or Mississippi accept public depiction of conduct found tolerable
in Las Vegas or New York City." Rotert
The case before the court arose in 1983
when two adult bookstore clerks were
arrested under Illinois' obscenity statute for selling adult magazines to
The case is part of a growing national
debate over censorship of sexually
explicit material, spurred in part by a
report issued last summer by the Attorney General's Commission on Pornography.
The report urged concerned citizens to
band together into watch groups to file
complaints, put pressure on local prosecutors, monitor judges and, if necessary, boycott merchants selling