In 1868, Anthony Comstock authored a comprehensive New York State statute prohibiting the distribution of “immoral” books and images. Five years later he founded the New York Society for the Suppression of Vice.
Acting as its secretary until his death in September 1915, he sought to become the arbiter of corruption and was handed legal authority to burn indecent books, destroy printers’ stocks, and enter galleries demanding that vile paintings be removed under threat of prosecution. For his enemies Comstock symbolized licensed bigotry; for his supporters he stood firm in defense of decency.
In 1895, the New York Times introduced the term “comstockery” to describe his zealous moral campaign. [Read more…] about Donleavy, Comstockery and Irish Smut