Comstock, Anthony

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Comstock, Anthony

(kŏm`stŏk), 1844–1915, American morals crusader, b. New Canaan, Conn. He served with the Union army in the Civil War and was later active as an antiabortionist and in advocating the suppression of obscene literature. He was the author of the comprehensive New York state statute (1868) forbidding immoral works, and in 1873 he secured stricter federal postal legislation against obscene matter. That same year he organized the New York Society for the Suppression of Vice. As secretary of the society until his death, Comstock was responsible for the destruction of 160 tons of literature and pictures. For his liberal enemies he became the symbol of licensed bigotry and for his supporters the symbol of stalwart defense of conventional morals. Comstock also inspired the Watch and Ward Society of Boston.

Bibliography

See biographies by H. Broun and M. Leech (1927) and De Robinge Bennett (repr. 1971).

Comstock, Anthony

(1844–1915) in comstockery, immortalized advocate of blue-nosed censorship. [Am. Hist.: Espy, 135]

Comstock, Anthony

(1844–1915) reformer; born in New Canaan, Conn. A Civil War veteran, he worked as a shipping clerk and retail salesman (1865–73), eventually in New York City, and pursued legal actions against book dealers selling allegedly obscene material. In 1873 he won passage of federal legislation prohibiting the mailing of obscene material. From 1875 on, as secretary to the New York Society for the Suppression of Vice, he zealously opposed activities he considered immoral, often conducting sensational raids. His targets included writers and publishers, abortionists, dispensers of contraceptives, and art galleries with "indecent" pictures; although not as well known for this in later years, it is also true that he fought quacks and purveyors of patent medicines and as such was a precursor of the consumer protection movement. He lost a legal battle to ban a production of George Bernard Shaw's play Mrs. Warren's Profession in New York (1905); it was Shaw who coined the word "comstockery" from Comstock's name. Comstock boasted of having destroyed "160 tons of obscene literature" in his lifetime and driven 15 people to suicide.
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82) Foreshadowing the heated campaigns of Anthony Comstock against "vampire literature" (83) in the late nineteenth century, one New York writer mourned the growing prevalence of what he called "satanic literature": "Got up in cheap form, rendered attractive by meretricious engravings and exaggerated titles, these pernicious books are thrust into almost every accessible place, and are infecting to the core a large portion of the youth of the country.
Turner sensibly turned to the people who are the most obsessed with those subcultures, namely anti-vice crusaders such as Anthony Comstock.
Whether he was denouncing prohibition ("the criminal, in the public eye, is not the boodegger and certainly not his customer, but the enforcement officer"), moral crusader Anthony Comstock ("a good woman, to him, was simply one who was efficiently policed"), or government itself ("in any dispute between a citizen and the government, it is my instinct to side with the citizen"), the overriding theme of the series remained steady: individual liberty vs.
ANTHONY COMSTOCK AND THE NEW YORK SOCIETY FOR THE SUPPRESSION OF VICE
are a host of full-named forefathers: Anthony Comstock, Ulysses S.
Her brazen sexual politics stimulated antipornography laws calling for the regulation of personal as well as public lives and the rise of the repressive Anthony Comstock.
Anthony Hopkins has the role of Anthony Comstock, the moral reformer from the New York Society for the Suppression of Vice, who succeeded in having contraceptives labeled "obscene" under postal regulations, thus outlawing their dissemination by mail or across state lines.
Of course, there were also powerful - and powerfully repressed - nudniks like the lawmaker Anthony Comstock, who trampled all over people's civil freedoms: He suppressed ``The Wedding Night,'' an early sex manual for couples explaining how to inspire ``a vague (emphasis mine) desire for the intertwining of lower limbs,'' and battled Margaret Sanger, the patron saint of sexual freedom, over the dissemination of information about birth control.
His name was Anthony Comstock, and he was a well-known national figure one hundred years ago.
Fredric Wertham is currently on the same internal chain gang as Anthony Comstock --using his bare hands to lay down hot asphalt along the Good Intentions Expressway.
Anthony Comstock, self-appointed protector of public morals in New York, had complained and called the play "reekings.
As strong a tonic as concealment may have been in Greeley's era--according to an 1851 document prepared by the legendary vice hunter Anthony Comstock, there were more than 6,000 gaming establishments in New York City, at the time--it turns out that when you draw back the curtains, advertise gambling via huge neon cowboys, and put a lottery machine in every grocery store, gambling flourishes even more.