At the start of his 62-page decision declaring 2 Live Crew's "As Nasty as They Wanna Be" album obscene, U.S. District Judge Jose Gonzalez stated that "this is a case between two ancient enemies: Anything Goes and Enough Already."

Gonzalez made the call, and Enough Already won, at least for now. But what are the ramifications?

"Nothing changes except there's a 62-page order out that makes {the album} obscene," said Bruce Rogow, attorney for the controversial rap group. "While that order's out, it changes the balance of power." Rogow said he plans to appeal to the 11th Circuit Court.

"The effect of {this} case is likely to be to encourage angry sheriffs and ambitious prosecutors around the country to seek obscenity convictions," said Floyd Abrams, a leading First Amendment lawyer in Washington.

Jack Thompson, a Coral Gables, Fla., lawyer and anti-pornography crusader who helped bring attention to 2 Live Crew's lyrics, called the ruling "great news. Children will no longer be mentally molested by {the rap group's leader} Luther Campbell," he told the Fort Lauderdale News & Sun-Sentinel.

Thompson said he would press the government to arrest the group on racketeering charges.

"They got millions in their coffers for trafficking obscenity," Thompson said. "They need to be put out of business and Campbell needs to be put in jail."

Gonzalez made clear that his decision is a civil finding and "does not criminalize {2 Live Crew's} conduct. ... Whether {the group's members} are guilty of a crime can only be decided if criminal charges are brought, a trial by jury conducted, and all other due process requirements have been met."

"Technically this doesn't mean 'Nasty' is legally criminally obscene anywhere," says Elliot Mincberg, legal director of the liberal lobbying group People for the American Way, "just that this is in the ballpark and the sheriff can prosecute if he wants to."

The sheriff in the case, Broward County's Nick Navarro, has made it clear that he wants to. "If it is obscene, we will make an arrest. If you sell it, you are going to jail."

But yesterday, the first full business day following the obscenity ruling, saw no arrests, mainly because scared record retailers had long ago removed "As Nasty as They Wanna Be" from their shelves. Wednesday's ruling, in fact, was in response to a civil suit filed in May by the Miami-based 2 Live Crew after a state judge ruled that the "Nasty" album "probably" was obscene. Navarro and his deputies then threatened shopkeepers with arrest if they continued selling it. For this, the sheriff's office was sternly rebuked by Gonzalez in his decision for engaging in unconstitutional prior restraint.

Gonzalez's ruling, the first time a federal judge has declared a recording obscene, said "Nasty" appeals "to dirty thoughts and the loins, not to the intellect and the mind." He said the lyrics violated standards in the community (defined as Broward, Dade and Palm Beach counties) by describing sexual conduct in a patently offensive way, appealing to prurient interest and by lacking serious artistic, literary, political or social value.

Gonzalez rejected 2 Live Crew's claim that its lyrics were protected by the First Amendment, saying that the double album, which has sold 1.7 million copies since its release, met the above three tests for obscenity, which were spelled out by the Supreme Court in a 1973 case.

In the past two decades, obscenity prosecutions have focused almost exclusively on explicit films, videos and magazines.

"The Supreme Court made it very clear that there was nothing improper from a constitutional point of view with prosecuting mere words," said John Weston, a nationally known expert on "sexual expression" censorship cases. "But since then, even though the court gave a green light, to my knowledge there has never been a conviction involving mere words and adult themes."

According to Weston, Gonzalez's reference to "dirty thoughts and the loins" reflects "a certain American fundamentalist elitism, but it doesn't have anything to do with the constitutionally required test for obscenity."

Rogow, who is also a law professor at Nova University in Fort Lauderdale, said his appeal will focus on the question of artistic merit. "That's the heart of the case. The key testimony, which was unrebutted, said that 'Nasty' has serious artistic value." Testimony on rap history and black culture was provided by two music critics and a sociologist, but it didn't convince Judge Gonzalez.

Marvin P. Dawkins, a professor in the University of Miami's Afro-American studies program, told the Fort Lauderdale News that he thinks the judge's ruling "sends a signal to the black underclass that says, 'See, this is what happens to you when you use stilted English, or when you engage in cultural traits of the underclass.' "

"The most disturbing thing about this decision is the idea that emotional material, stuff that doesn't appeal to the intellect, somehow isn't protected by the Constitution," said American Civil Liberties Union legislative director Barry Lynn. "But the First Amendment does not just cover intellectual discourse, and you need it to protect music, art, literature that's on the cultural edges."

Said Abrams: "There is a particular problem with courts sitting in judgment on rock music, and that is that there's an enormous cultural gap which exists between the sort of people that make the music and listen to music, on the one hand, and the people that prosecute and judge it, on the other. It is therefore particularly troubling from a First Amendment perspective when such music is held to be obscene because it is unlikely that the music has been treated the same way as a book would be, or a painting or a movie."

In fact, 2 Live Crew went through its court case without any public support from the Recording Industry Association of America or the National Association of Recording Merchandisers (NARM), which were marshaling their energies to combat mandatory lyric labeling bills. Those bills raised questions of First Amendment rights, while the 2 Live Crew case focused on obscenity, which is not protected by the First Amendment. The RIAA declined comment yesterday, pending an examination of the Gonzalez ruling.

"The RIAA, the retailers and all of those people wanted to stay out of the fray but now they recognize that they need to join in," said Rogow. "Now they recognize the type of threat that really is out there for all artists."

In their arguments, Rogow and 2 Live Crew brought in a tape of the film "Eddie Murphy Raw" and recordings by raunchy comedian Andrew Dice Clay. "A lot of folks can be put at risk because their material can be found to be offensive," said Rogow. "At least you can dance to our stuff."

"I don't think {Murphy and Clay} are going to be losing any sleep over this decision because they know no jury is going to find their material obscene," said the ACLU's Lynn. "And I don't think a jury would have found 2 Live Crew to be obscene in Florida."

In 1989 an Alabama judge found the group's previous album, "Move Somethin'," obscene, but in February that decision was overturned by a circuit court jury.

NARM counsel John Mitchell, echoing the opinions of several other observers, said he found it "hard to imagine a single federal judge applying a community standard for a broad area and determining that something is obscene under the normal definition of obscenity." Gonzalez, appointed to the federal bench by President Carter, pointed out in his finding that he had been a Broward County resident since 1958, and was familiar with community standards.

According to Lynn, "That linchpin of 'community standards' is one of the most dangerous things about obscenity law because you literally don't know when you cross the street whether a record that's legal on one side of the street isn't on the other. It's one of the absurdities of the law. It also has a chilling effect -- it freezes the market because people become terrified at the prospect of ending up literally in jail because they make a mistake in judgment about what a community standard is."