Thursday, March 05, 2009

Anthony Comstock

For most of his life, Anthony Comstock, was dedicated to the prevention of the spreading of impurity and vice. The majority of Anthony’s time was used in stopping pornographic publishers. Some people felt he was a sneaky meddler, while others gave him respect for his above mentioned dedication. In 1873, the Comstock Act was established. It was an American law which stated that it was “illegal to send any obscene materials through the mail.” The law was named after Anthony. In 1874, in just about a year A. Comstock had confiscated 194,000 indecent pictures and photos and 134,000 pounds of obscene books. A few years before he died Comstock said, “In the forty one years I have been here I have convicted enough people to fill a passenger train of sixty coaches containing sixty passengers each. I have destroyed 160 tons of obscene literature.”

Paladin of Purity
Comstock laws

Comstock was quite concerned with the morals of young people and society. He felt they were endangered by any obscene “book, pamphlet, picture, paper, print or other publication of an indecent character, or any article or thing designed or intended for the prevention of contraception or procuring or abortion”. What is shocking to me is that he really hunted people down like criminals that opposed him. Anthony apparently did all of this for God. I think he was a bit over vigilant, self righteous, and too rigid. He sort of led his own campaign for moral censorship.

Paladin of Purity
Paul Starr, The Creation of the Media, pg. 243


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