Luther Campbell and fellow 2LiveCrew members are arrested on obscenity charges - HISTORY
Year
1990

Luther Campbell and fellow 2LiveCrew members are arrested on obscenity charges

As Nasty As They Wanna Be in a Hollywood, Florida, nightclub.

United States District Court Judge Jose Gonzalez had set events in motion three days earlier in a 62-page written opinion that began, “This is a case between two ancient enemies: Anything Goes and Enough Already.” At issue in the case before Judge Gonzalez was whether the songs on 2LiveCrew’s album As Nasty As They Wanna Be were obscene and therefore not protected by the First Amendment. Applying a standard established by the Supreme Court in its landmark Miller v. State of California case, Gonzalez ruled that As Nasty As They Wanna Be violated local “community standards” of decency without possessing any mitigating artistic merit. Two days later, a Fort Lauderdale record-store owner was arrested for selling copies of the 2LiveCrew album, and the day after that, Campbell and his cohorts were arrested.

Civil libertarians and prominent academics rose immediately to the defense of Campbell et al., making legal arguments in support of their right to perform and sell songs like “Me So Horny” and “Throw The ****.” Ultimately, those arguments prevailed, as the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals overturned Judge Gonzalez’s order and the United States Supreme Court declined to reconsider that ruling. Predictably, the biggest winners in the case was 2LiveCrew. The publicity surrounding their legal battle helped make a multiplatinum smash hit out of As Nasty As They Wanna Be, despite a near-total lack of radio play. As for Luther Campbell and his band mates, all charges against them were dropped.

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