"Judges and jurors who must decide whether sexually explicit material is obscene are asked to use a local yardstick: does the material violate community standards?Using Internet search terms as a proxy for community standards is one of the bluntest, dumbest and most ethically repellent ideas I've heard in a while.
That is often a tricky question because there is no simple, concrete way to gauge a community’s tastes and values.
The Internet may be changing that. In a novel approach, the defense in an obscenity trial in Florida plans to use publicly accessible Google search data to try to persuade jurors that their neighbors have broader interests than they might have thought."
On that basis, the most profound idea / person on earth is Britney Spears - she tops the search rankings on a regular and global basis.
If I type "dickhead", in search of a definition, and if I reduce my censoring filter to "low" before I do my search (yes, kiddies there is a Google filter, with a default setting of medium), I'm pretty sure the first 550,000 links will take me to no end of dickheads, but not a single urban dictionary with a definition of the word. Neither my typing the term nor the search results would tell you about my standards, much less community standards.
What people do in their own homes while no one is watching should never be considered a community standard - women and children are beaten in their own homes, frequently, across every strata of society - does that make it acceptable?
Sitting in front of a computer at home, deliberately typing in provocative search terms in search of whatever proclivity one favors is not the same as being comfortable standing at the local kindy fete discussing your bestest ever perverted porn site find. If the "community standard" test is to be met, surely the latter would be at least a marginally more robust yard stick: would you discuss it with your child's teacher, your neighbors, the lady who makes your lunch order?
If the court case angle isn't bad enough, the comments on the article are an even bigger glance into an abyss of stupidity.
Truly, have people forgotten how to think, to reason?
Do we need to resurrect Plato?
Besides, community standards, increasingly so, are not necessarily attractive by any object assessment, nor are they standards that speak well of we humans. Just as we are fond of telling more barbaric societies that we don't especially appreciate their standards, let's not kid ourselves that all of our community standards are boast worthy.
(The judge has not ruled on whether to allow the Google data.)