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The United States of America vs. sex.

The United States of America vs. Sex.

Philip Nobile, Eric Nadler.Minotaur Press, $3.95.

In Denmark,they say a little perversion is part of human nature, but with enough vicarious release the average pervert remains safely within the bounds of social decency. A great many students of social decency concur. Ed Meese and company beg to differ.

Child molesting, prostitution,and sexual assault are legal concerns, but whether a couple's right to watch smut on its own VCR is a danger to society is an emotional issue that has found its way into the political arena. The foes of pornography come from all corners. These people--fundamentalists, feminists, housewives, and doctors--have long been clamoring for a uniting force. In 1985 the attorney general's Commission took up their fight.

The United States of America vs.Sex, serves up, blow by blow, the popular farce known as the Meese Commission. Nobile and Nadler followed the commission's hearings around the country, financed by Penthouse. Their intent was to make a mockery of the proceedings. They do. But in the process they expose a deeper, more important point: that even conservatives are not agreed about how pornography should be limited.

Pornography exists, and a lot ofpeople don't like it for good reason. Yet it's difficult to define; it runs the gamut from Venuses reclining on bearskins to images so sick it's hard to imagine anyone could look at, let alone produce, them. Freud would have had a field day explaining why the same picture can elicit five responses--ranging from pleasure to pain--from as many people.

The commission was grapplingwith a tough issue, because First Amendment rights are basic to any discussion of regulating pornography. But, as this book shows, some of its members tried very hard to remain objective. Intriguingly, three out of the four female members of the commission fought particularly hard to give pornography a fair trial. If one can ignore the good guy-bad guy tone of the book, one stands to learn quite a bit about the issues--on both sides.
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Copyright 1986, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Author:Catling, Linda
Publication:Washington Monthly
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Dec 1, 1986
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