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He demonstrates that these communities of experts are divided on such questions as, Can a novel or film be both high art and obscene? and, Is the world of heterosexual pornography categorically different from the worlds of gay and lesbian pornography? He observes that the ideas of an "average" psychological or behavioral response to a story or an image and the "community" standard of decency or tolerance are outmoded myths that elude all attempts at careful measurement. Nowlin concludes that lack of agreement among experts, for example, as to how and why some sexually explicit imagery titillates or pleases some people, while disgusting or demeaning others, can no longer be viewed simply in terms of moral, religious, or even political predilections. Judging Obscenity traces the way freedom of speech and the right to equality have taken shape within the worlds of pornographic expression and consumption and provides a historical glimpse of changing views about literature and art, as well as a critical examination of the nature of social science research in matters of human sexuality, media-response, and sexual expression.
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"A very impressive achievement. Nowlin's book will make an excellent contribution to the literature on obscenity law."
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