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Perhaps, for example, they imagine perverts, decked out in raincoats, skulking in and around what were euphemistically called “adult” bookstores and peep-show arcades, replete with grainy, eight-millimeter continuous-loop films and boxes of easy-to-reach tissues in viewing stalls.

Or maybe it is actor Paul Reubens (better known as Pee-wee Herman, a favorite TV character of American children in the 1980s) being arrested two decades ago by undercover detectives for allegedly masturbating inside an adult theater in Sarasota, Florida.

Or possibly it’s magazine, publishing its infamous June 1978 cover featuring a woman, legs lifted high and upward, being plunged, pressed, and processed through a meat grinder, accompanied by publisher Larry Claxton Flynt’s statement, “We will no longer hang women up like pieces of meat.”Legal condemnation surrounding sexually charged expression that this trio of old-school examples conjures up is, of course, anything but new in the United States.

Indeed, the first obscenity prosecution in the country occurred nearly 200 years ago in Pennsylvania.

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