Prurient Interest and Human Dignity: Pornography Regulation in West Germany and the United States

This Article examines the regulation of pornography in West Germany and compares it to regulation in the United States. Part I provides an overview of the legal framework- constitutional and statutory-of pornography regulation in West Germany. Part II then traces the evolution of the concept of human dignity as a standard for defining pornography in West Germany, and Part III illustrates the practical impact of the idea in two widely debated recent cases. Part IV argues that West Germany’s human dignity approach to pornography regulation raises important questions about how to view pornography, but that cultural and constitutional differences between West Germany and the United States caution against the direct application of the German approach in this country. Finally, this Article concludes that a comparison of the approaches to pornography regulation taken by the two countries offers an important, though limited, new perspective for the current debate in the United States.