Devil’s Work: The Fascinating History of America’s War on Masturbation and Porn

Alternet presents an excerpt from Sex & Punishment: Four Thousand Years of Judging Desire

“The crusade against pornography in the United States was dominated by one outsized character: the Brooklyn dry-goods salesman and Olympian busybody Anthony Comstock. The United States’ most intrusive antiobscenity law was named after him, and for decades he held a powerful position with the government in order to enforce it. His strict and often bullying methods also earned him a place in the English lexicon with the word “Comstockery.”

During his forty-year career as an antismut crusader and protector of American youth, Comstock proudly claimed to have confiscated sixteen tons of “vampire literature,” organized more than four thousand arrests, and caused the conviction of enough people to fill sixty train coaches. He also caused the suicide of about fifteen people. As a young Union soldier during the Civil War, Comstock quickly earned the enmity of his peers for pouring his whiskey rations onto the ground and needling officers to sanitize soldier entertainments. “Seems to be a feeling of hatred by some of the boys,” he wrote in his diary, “constantly falsifying, persecuting, and trying to do me harm.” The hostility of his fellow soldiers only fanned Comstock’s desire to do God’s work.”

For the full excerpt, visit:  Alternet.org

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