The New Comstock
As we explain on the first page of the introduction, Comstock was the founder of the New York Society for the Suppression of Vice. The U.S. Postal Service designated him as a special unpaid agent, giving him the right to go into any post office in the nation and open mail he believed to be obscene. Comstock lobbied Congress by entering its halls with a sack and dumping the contents on a table: obscene photographs, abortion aids, aphrodisiac powders--all of which had passed through the U.S. mail. His successors banned "filthy" books being disseminated via the mail network--Henry Miller, James Joyce, Sigmund Freud, Honore Balzac, Ernest Hemingway, Simone de Beauvoir, Vladimir Nabokov...
The modern-day Comstock is Sentator James Exon. Instead of a sack, he prowls the halls of Congress with his Blue Book.
On June 9, 1995 he stood up in front of the Senate and waved his blue book of smut.
multimedia erotica; erotica fetish; nude celebrities; pictures black, erotic females; pictures boys; pictures celebrities; pictures children; pictures erotic children; pictures erotica; pictures erotica amateur; pictures erotica amateur females; pictures erotica amateur males; erotica animal; erotica auto; erotica bestiality; erotica bestiality, hamster, duct tape; bestiality, hamster, duct tape; [two of those] erotica black females; erotica black males; erotica blondes; erotica bondage; erotica breasts; Here is a good one: erotica cartoons; erotica children; erotica female; erotica female, anal; erotica fetish; erotica fury; erotica gay men; erotica male; erotica male, anal; erotica Oriental; erotica porn star.
This goes on and on and on--so much repitition. But it is startling, page after page, on screen after screen after screen--free, free of charge, with a click, click, click.
This is the crux of the legal debate over the Constitutionality of banning certain forms of speech on the Internet. Exon will tell you that it is like television and can be legally regulated in the same way. The courts, however, allowed this regulation because the number of channels were "scarce" and the broadcast media "pervasive." The Internet does not have the same problems of scarcity and pervasiveness. It can handle countless sites, all reached through the searching of the user--rather than a few, pumped into the head of the passive viewer. It is more like printed media, which are afforded the full rights and protections of the First Amendment.
The CDA disappeared from sight for a while, then reappeared as a part of the Telecommunications Reform Act, signed into law last February. Encompassing the vague parameters outlined by Exon's original CDA to enforce "decency," the new CDA is really the child of Exon--the new Anthony Comstock.
The CDA was passed by Congress and signed into law by President Clinton in February. It made it illegal to offer up anything which depicts or describes sexual or excretory functions or organs in a patently offensive manner, according to local standards. (For more on local standards setting the standard for all of cyberspace, see Memphis Rules.)
The CDA was opposed by a coalition headed up by the ACLU. Jonathan was one of the plantiffs in this case.
On June 12 the panel of three federal judges in Philadelphia struck down the law as unconstitutional. The next day Exon issued a press release.