Publish date:
Updated on

2 Live Crew members are acquitted of obscenity charges

Three members of the rap group 2 Live Crew are acquitted of obscenity charges in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Luther Campbell, Chris “Fresh Kid Ice” Wong Won, and Mark “Brother Marquis” Ross had faced a year in prison for performing their songs, which were considered to be sexually prurient and obscene, at a club in Hollywood, Florida. Their June 10 concert appearance and subsequent arrest capped a remarkable week in which a federal judge ruled that their latest album was obscene, and a local record store owner was arrested for selling it to an undercover police officer.

Police officers who were in the audience when 2 Live Crew performed at Club Futura on June 10 had brought along a recorder, but they did a poor job of preparing the case for prosecutors. During the two-week trial in October, the tape recording was found to be practically inaudible, and the lyrics were indecipherable. When a deputy futilely tried to interpret the tape, the jurors only laughed and shook their heads.

Attacking the assumption that their songs were obscene, 2 Live Crew’s attorneys introduced testimony from a noted music expert and an English professor to claim that the sexually charged songs were actually parodies of black stereotypes and were intended to make people laugh. “Of all the things in this world, sex is the one that all of us do,” said defense attorney Bruce Rogow during closing arguments. “But if you don’t say it quite the right way, you can get in big trouble with the state.”

The jury’s decision to acquit came as a slight surprise since record store owner Charles Freeman had been convicted earlier in the month for selling copies of 2 Live Crew’s As Nasty as They Wanna Be. It wasn’t until May 1992 that an appellate court overruled the original finding that the album was obscene. Luther Campbell claimed that he had spent more than $1 million in legal fees fighting the First Amendment battle.

The publicity from the trial prompted a national debate on what type of music was appropriate for children, and the U.S. Senate even held a hearing on music lyrics. Major record companies responded by voluntarily agreeing to place stickers on albums containing explicit lyrics.

FACT CHECK: We strive for accuracy and fairness. But if you see something that doesn't look right, click here to contact us!


MacArthur returns

After advancing island by island across the Pacific Ocean, U.S. General Douglas MacArthur wades ashore onto the Philippine island of Leyte, fulfilling his promise to return to the area he was forced to flee in 1942. The son of an American Civil War hero, MacArthur served as chief more

Sydney Opera House opens

After 15 years of construction, the Sydney Opera House is dedicated by Queen Elizabeth II. The $80 million structure, designed by Danish architect Jørn Utzon and funded by the profits of the Opera House Lotteries, was built on Bennelong Point, in Sydney, Australia. Famous for its more

Mao’s Long March concludes

Just over a year after the start of the Long March, Mao Zedong arrives in Shensi Province in northwest China with 4,000 survivors and sets up Chinese Communist headquarters. The epic flight from Chiang Kai-shek’s Nationalist forces lasted 368 days and covered 6,000 miles, nearly more

Battle of Navarino

During the Greek War for Independence, a combined Turkish and Egyptian armada is destroyed by an allied British, French, and Russian naval force at the Battle of Navarino. In 1821, the first nationalist uprisings by the Greeks against their Turkish rulers touched off a wave of more

Congress investigates Reds in Hollywood

On October 20, 1947, the notorious Red Scare kicks into high gear in Washington, as a Congressional committee begins investigating Communist influence in one of the world’s richest and most glamorous communities: Hollywood. After World War II, the Cold War began to heat up more

Watergate special prosecutor dismissed

Solicitor General Robert Bork dismisses Watergate special prosecutor Archibald Cox; Attorney General Richardson and Deputy Attorney General Ruckelshaus resign in protest. Cox had conducted a detailed investigation of the Watergate break-in that revealed that the burglary was more

Fosbury flops to an Olympic record

On October 20, 1968, 21-year-old Oregonian Dick Fosbury wins gold—and sets an Olympic record—when he high-jumps 7 feet 4 1/4 inches at the Mexico City Games. It was the first American victory in the event since 1956. It was also the international debut of Fosbury’s unique jumping more

Kennedy press secretary misleads press

On this day in 1962, the White House press corps is told that President John F. Kennedy has a cold; in reality, he is holding secret meetings with advisors on the eve of ordering a blockade of Cuba. Kennedy was in Seattle and scheduled to attend the Seattle Century 21 World’s more

Burt Lancaster dies

On this day in 1994, Burt Lancaster, a former circus performer who rose to fame as a Hollywood leading man with some 70 movies to his credit, including From Here to Eternity and Atlantic City, in a career that spanned more than four decades, dies of a heart attack at the age of more

Natural gas explosions rock Cleveland

Two liquid gas tanks explode in Cleveland, Ohio, killing 130 people, on this day in 1944. It took all of the city’s firefighters to bring the resulting industrial fire under control. At 2:30 p.m., laboratory workers at the East Ohio Gas Company spotted white vapor leaking from more

The Red Scare comes to Hollywood

The House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) of the U.S. Congress opens its investigation into communist infiltration of the American movie industry on October 20, 1947. Chaired by Congressman Parnell Thomas, the subsequent hearings focused on identifying political more

Union General Daniel Sickles is born

On this day in 1819, Daniel Sickles, one of the most colorful generals in the Union army, is born in New York City. Sickles was a member of theNew York StateAssembly and New York State Senate before serving in the U.S. House of Representatives as a Democrat from New York from more