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Inappropriateness refers to standards or ethics that are typically viewed as being negative in society. It differs from things that are illicit in that inappropriate behavior does not necessarily have any accompanying legal ramifications.
Synonyms of inappropriate include improper, unbefitting, and unsuitable. Although social ills are usually outlawed in wider society, there are many examples wherein various jurisdictions give their inhabitants full discretion over certain aspects of their lives so they can police themselves without any intrusiveness. For instance, although it is legal to flatulate in a crowded elevator, there are strong social pressures not to do so. Other socially contentious behavior, such as smoking while pregnant, may procure a statement from a public health organization rather than from a law enforcement organization. The term has also been used to negatively refer to the usage of recreational drugs. Increasingly, the term is used in the context of sexual misconduct, especially touching of erogenous zones such as the genitalia.
In the United States, the Supreme Court has ruled in FCC v. Pacifica Foundation (1978) that the Federal Communications Commission has the power to punish constitutionally protected but "indecent" expression on radio and broadcast television. The FCC released guidelines on indecency in 2001. The radio and television broadcast of indecent material is prohibited between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m.
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- Marjorie Heins (2007). Not in Front of the Children: 'Indecency,' Censorship, and the Innocence of Youth. Rutgers University Press. p. xvi. ISBN 9780813543888.
- Paul Ruschmann, Alan Marzilli (2009). The FCC and Regulating Indecency. Infobase Publishing. p. 32-33. ISBN 9781438106236.
- Jeremy Lipschultz (2008). Broadcast and Internet Indecency: Defining Free Speech. Routledge. p. 189. ISBN 9781135596286.
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