Thursday, November 03, 2005

Comstockery Resurgent 

Historical perspectives:
"Comstockery" and the Legal Suppression of Birth Control, 1873

Act for the Suppression of Trade in, and Circulation of, Obscene Literature and Articles of Immoral Use, 1873

Tit. 18. Crimes and Criminal Procedure
Ch. 71. Obscenity

SECTION 1461. Mailing obscene or crime inciting matter.

Every obscene, lewd, lascivious, indecent, filthy or vile article, matter, thing, device or substance; and
Every article or thing designed, adapted, or intended for preventing conception or producting abortion, or for any indecent or immoral use; and
Every article, instrument, substance, drug, medicine, or thing which is advertised or described in a manner calculated to lead another to use or apply it for preventing conception or producing abortion, or for any indecent or immoral purpose; and
Every written or printed card, letter, circular, book, pamphlet, advertisement, or notice of any kind giving information, directly or indirectly, where, or how, or from whom, or by what means any of such mentioned matters, articles, or things may be obtained or made, or where or by whom any act or operation of any kind for the procuring of abortion will be done or performed, or how or by what means conception may be prevented or abortion produced, whether sealed or unsealed; and
Every paper, writing, advertisement, or representation what any article, instrument, substance, drug, medicine, or thing may, or can, be used or applied for preventing conception or producing abortion, or for any indecent or immoral purpose; and
Every description calculated to induce or incite a person to so use or apply any such article, instrument, substance, drug, medicine, or thing -
Is declared to be nonmailable matter and shall not be conveyed in the mails or delivered from any post office or by any letter carrier.
Whoever knowingly uses the mail for the mailing, carriage in the mails, or delivery of anything declared by this section to be nonmailable, or knowingly causes to be delivered by mail according to the direction thereon, or at the place at which it is directed to be delivered by the person to whom it is addressed, or knowingly takes any such thing from the mails for the purpose of circulating or disposing thereof, or of aiding in the circulation or disposition thereof, shall be fined not more than $5,000 or imprisoned not more than five years, or both, for the first such offense, and shall be fined not more than $10,000 or imprisioned not more than ten years, or both, for each such offense thereafter.
The term "indecent" as used in this section includes matter of a character tending to incite arson, murder, or assassination.

Source: Major Problems in the Gilded Age and the Progressive Era; Documents and Essays Edited by Leon Fink.



Far out on the desert to the north dustspouts rose wobbling and augered the earth and some said they'd heard of pilgrims borne aloft like dervishes in those mindless coils to be dropped broken and bleeding upon the desert again and there perhaps to watch the thing that had destroyed them lurch onward like some drunken djinn and resolve itself once more into the elements from which it sprang. Out of that whirlwind no voice spoke and the pilgrim lying in his broken bones may cry out and in his anguish he may rage, but rage at what? And if the dried and blackened shell of him is found among the sands by travelers to come yet who can discover the engine of his ruin? ~ Cormac McCarthy Blood Meridian

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