This is worrying, and I'm inclined to agree with the tenor of Peachy's comments.
It's worth noting, however, that for something to be obscene under federal law, it must fill these guidelines in toto (according to the SCOTUS case Miller v. California):
(a) whether 'the average person, applying contemporary community standards' would find that the work, taken as a whole, appeals to the prurient interest
(b) whether the work depicts or describes, in a patently offensive way, sexual conduct specifically defined by the applicable state law
(c) whether the work, taken as a whole, lacks serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value.
The 'taken as a whole' is particularly important, because it means a specific instance which might, in itself, be considered obscene, cannot render an entire work of art obscene. Thus, James Joyce's Ulysses was famously found *not* to be obscene (because of its literary value). The David would *not* be obscene, because it does not depict an obscene act (merely a nude figure), and because of its artistic value. Further, there is no law which prohibits an individual's possessing obscene material, although selling it or transferring it into another country could get you into trouble.
I'm inclined to think that leaving it up to an 'average' person to determine what is prurient or sexual is unwise and anti-liberal, but scientific, literary, artistic, and political value are not left up to the general public. I'm not sure the government can determine what is of value, but if not they, then who? Moreover, the Court has ruled in a number of instances that political, philosophical, and metaphysical speech is especially protected (hence the verdict in Texas v. Johnson which struck down a law against flag burning as a political protest). Indeed, in the United States, it is entirely permissible to hold or expound views which oppose constitutional rights or societal order, but there is a fine line between expressing such views (which is protected) and inciting people to act on them in an illegal fashion (which is not). As far as pornography goes, providing pornography to minors is illegal anyway.
Finally (and potentially most controversially), the court's attitude towards children and children's rights is rather mixed. Although Tinker v. Des Moines ruled that students do not abandon their constitutional rights at the schoolhouse gate, it is permissible to place limits on speech and behaviour (for educational purposes, and sometimes for their safety) which it would be unconstitutional to place on adults. I have very mixed feelings about this, but it suggests that such a law would (at least in some of its provisions) be constitutional.
I am concerned about the 'indirect access' provision--are adults required to establish internet firewalls to ensure that children cannot get at pornography?
As for the Holocaust, H3g3l, books about the Holocaust are entitled to a high level of protection under constitutional law. I think you're employing a strawman here. There is plenty to find fault with in this bill without implying that it will make reading history illegal.
Out of interest, what has constituted obscenity in Iowan jurisprudence?
Miller v. California decision (slightly messy, but the full text is there) Douglas's dissent (towards the bottom) is brilliant and fascinating, particularly this expression:
As is intimated by the Court's opinion, the materials before us may be garbage. But so is much of what is said in political campaigns, in the daily press, on TV, or over the radio. By reason of the First Amendment -- and solely because of it -- speakers and publishers have not been threatened or subdued because their thoughts and ideas may be "offensive" to some.
The entire point is that legislators *do* have to run for election and re-election. Judges are appointed for life on good behaviour, without any appeal from the public. There's a substantial argument that judges should not be made the arbiters of morality, because their role is to interpret the law, not to rule on policy and political questions. This is Douglas's point in his dissent (see my post above).
Originally Posted by harris
Also worth noting (as the decision in Miller v. California does) that obscenity includes porn, but not all obscenity is pornographic (although it's hard to imagine something intended to arouse prurient sexual interest, and lacking in social/artistic/political value, yet which is *not* pornographic).