Anthony Comstock

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Anthony Comstock was the first US Postal inspector who is famous for lobbying for strict obscenity laws in the United Stated.

Born 1844 in New Canaan, Connecticut.

In the early 1870's he crusaded for tight obscenity laws founding the New York Society for the Suppression of Vice (whose seal was an image of a publisher on his way to jail and a pile of burning books.

In 1873 Congress passed a bill (known as the Comstock law) making it illegal to send "obscene, lewd or lascivious" items in the mail, with penalties up to ten years in prison. This included any information on birth control or abortion.

Comstock was given by the New York State legislature full police powers including a badge and a gun.

Comstock abused his powers, rifled through other peoples mail at a whim confiscating works of Aristophanes, Voltaire, Walt Whitman among others he felt were inappropriate. He once famously referred to playwright George Bernard Shaw as a "Irish smut dealer".[1]


[*]"No sect nor class has ever publicly sided with the smut dealer, except the Infidels, the Liberals and the Free-lovers"
  1. Eric Schlosser, Reefer Madness 2003