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October 20, 1990, 2 Live Crew Acquitted Of Obscenity Charges - Today In Crime History

On this day, October 20, in the year 1990, members of the musical group 2 Live Crew were acquitted of obscenity charges in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

2 Live Crew was a hip hop group from Miami, Florida.  In 1989, the group released their third album, “As Nasty As They Wanna Be”, which would become the groups most successful.  A large part of the album’s success was due to the single "Me So Horny", which reached the Top 40 of the Billboard charts despite little radio play.  In June 1989 the group preformed at a venue in Hollywood, Florida.  Law enforcement officers who were in the audience when 2 Live Crew performed had brought along an audio recording device.  As a result of the group’s performance that night, members were arrested on obscenity charges, because law enforcement believed that the lyrics to some of their songs were indecent and appealed to prurient interests.

At the jury trial, the group’s members faced the possibility of incarceration for up to one year if convicted.  The tape recording, when played for the jury,  was practically inaudible and the lyrics were almost impossible to understand.   When a deputy sheriff  tried to interpret what words were being said during the performance, some jurors laughed, while others shook their heads.

2 Live Crew's criminal defense attorney attacked the assumption that the songs and lyrics were obscene.  The defense lawyer introduced testimony from a music expert to establish that the sexually charged lyrics were actually parodies of stereotypes and were intended to make people laugh.  "Of all the things in this world, sex is the one that all of us do," the criminal defense attorney argued during closing arguments. "But if you don't say it quite the right way, you can get in big trouble with the state."  

Fortunately for the accused members of 2 Live Crew, on October 20, 1990, the jury found that the State of Florida had failed to prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt and enter a verdict of not guilty.

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