censorship @ rotten dot com
An archive of disturbing illustration

The definition of obscenity, according to the Supreme Court and known informally as the Miller test, is:
  • must appeal to the prurient interest of the average person
  • must describe sexual conduct in a way that is "patently offensive" to community standards, and
  • when taken as a whole, it "must lack serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value"

Certain people (including parents and schoolteachers) have complained to us and stated that rotten.com should not be "allowed" on the net, since children can view images on our site.

One US schoolteacher wrote us a very angry email that complained some of her students had bookmarked images on this site, that our site shouldn't be on the net, and other claptrap.

This is our response. The net is not a babysitter! Children should not be roaming the Internet unsupervised any more than they should be roaming the streets of New York City unsupervised.

We cannot dumb the Internet down to the level of playground. Rotten dot com serves as a beacon to demonstrate that censorship of the Internet is impractical, unethical, and wrong. To censor this site, it is necessary to censor medical texts, history texts, evidence rooms, courtrooms, art museums, libraries, and other sources of information vital to functioning of free society.

Nearly all of the images which we have online are not even prurient, and would thus not fall under any definition of obscenity. Any images which we have of a sexual nature are in a context which render them far from obscene, in any United States jurisdiction. Some of the images may be offensive, but that has never been a crime. Life is sometimes offensive. You have to expect that.

The images we find most obscene are those of book burnings.

Please remember that no child has access to the Internet without the active consent of an adult. And absolutely no child should be left on the Internet alone. Supervision of children remains the responsibility of parents and teachers, as it always has and always will.

The rotten staff, May 1997.