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Nasty, yes; obscene, no

We’re not sure what it takes to qualify as “obscene, vulgar, profane, lascivious, or indecent language” under Virginia Code Sec. 18.2-427, but we’re far too modest – our faces are still red – to repeat the words that the Virginia Court of Appeals says fall short of that standard in Lofgren v. Commonwealth.

The words certainly would appear to be vulgar and profane, but the court notes that it limited the statute to “obscene” phrases in 1991 in response to an argument that it was unconstitutionally overbroad.

Obscenity generally involves “a prurient interest in sex,” and the defendant’s words were based on rage rather than any interest in sex, the court said. He “used the offensive words as vulgar curse or swear words to communicate his frustration, anger, contempt or disgust with the victim,” the court said today in reversing his conviction.
By Alan Cooper

6 comments

  1. Obscene? Maybe not. But what about vulgar, profane, or indecent? “Vulgar” is defined as “coarse or morally crude.” To violate the law, such language must be used to “intimidate, coerce, or harass.” “Harass” means “to create an unpleasant or hostile situation, especially by uninvited, unwelcome verbal or physical conduct.” Neither obscenity nor freedom of speech has anything at all to do with this case. Mr. Lofgren was guilty and has been given a free pass, and the Court has endorsed the further coarsening of society.

  2. Obscene? Maybe not. But what about vulgar, profane, or indecent? “Vulgar” is defined as “coarse or morally crude.” To violate the law, such language must be used to “intimidate, coerce, or harass.” “Harass” means “to create an unpleasant or hostile situation, especially by uninvited, unwelcome verbal or physical conduct.” Neither obscenity nor freedom of speech has anything at all to do with this case. Mr. Lofgren was guilty and has been given a free pass, and the Court has endorsed the further coarsening of society.

  3. The Court should be ashamed of this decision but at least they’ve given helpful guidance on exactly what one may say on the phone to another person with impunity. I have written these catchy phrases down.

  4. The Court should be ashamed of this decision but at least they’ve given helpful guidance on exactly what one may say on the phone to another person with impunity. I have written these catchy phrases down.

  5. Does this fall under the standard of I will know what is obscene when I hear it?

  6. Does this fall under the standard of I will know what is obscene when I hear it?

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