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Censorship Project Started Material Sources Needed

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Pillar Of The Community
United States
2433 Posts
Posted 05/28/2023   12:04 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add Parcelpostguy to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply

Quote:
1873 The Comstock Act


One word this act produced is "comstockery" and the use does not note favorable activity.


Quote:
The Comstock Act of 1873 made it illegal to send "obscene, lewd or lascivious," "immoral," or "indecent" publications through the mail. The law also made it a misdemeanor for anyone to sell, give away, or possess an obscene book, pamphlet, picture, drawing, or advertisement. The breadth of the legislation included writings or instruments pertaining to contraception and abortion, even if written by a physician. Although officially titled An Act for the Suppression of Trade In, and Circulation of, Obscene Literature and Articles of Immoral Use, the statute did not provide a definition of obscenity. After Congress passed the bill, it designated Comstock as a special agent in the United States Post Office charged with enforcing the law. With the help of his New York Society for the Suppression of Vice, Comstock was able to arrest individuals under the new act.


The highlighted "Comstock" is Anthony Comstock:

Quote:
Named for Anthony Comstock, a zealous crusader against what he considered to be obscenity, the act criminalized publication, distribution, and possession of information about or devices or medications for "unlawful" abortion or contraception. Individuals convicted of violating the Comstock Act could receive up to five years of imprisonment with hard labour and a fine of up to $2,000. The act also banned distribution through the mail and import of materials from abroad, with provisions for even stronger penalties and fines.

Vestiges of the act endured as the law of the land into the 1990s. In 1971 Congress removed the language concerning contraception, and federal courts until Roe v. Wade (1973) ruled that it applied only to "unlawful" abortions. After Roe, laws criminalizing transportation of information about abortion remained on the books, and, although they have not been enforced, they have been expanded to ban distribution of abortion-related information on the Internet. Representative Barney Frank of Massachusetts introduced legislation in 1997 to repeal abortion-related elements of federal obscenity law rooted in the Comstock Act.



Quote:
Anthony Comstock (March 7, 1844 September 21, 1915) was an anti-vice activist, United States Postal Inspector, and secretary of the New York Society for the Suppression of Vice (NYSSV), who was dedicated to upholding Christian morality. He opposed obscene literature, abortion, contraception, masturbation, gambling, prostitution, and patent medicine. The terms comstockery and comstockism refer to his extensive censorship campaign of materials that he considered obscene, namely anything remotely discussing sex publicly, including birth control advertised or sent by mail. He used his positions in the U.S. Postal Service and the NYSSV (in association with the New York police) to make numerous arrests for obscenity and gambling.



Of course the same Postal Service issued and allowed this in the mails:



1. Words shown were not her words, rather from a different poet.
2. Was a pimp running a brothel.
3. Worked as a prostitute.

Was dead when 1 arose, thus had no opinion but from my long association with the family, I think she would not want any but her words to appear.. For 2 and 3 she was quite open with that information as it was part of her life which made her who she was and can be found published in many many places.

As to your question, not directed to me, rogdcam,
Quote:
As for "positive censorship" that seems to be an oxymoron. No? Could you provide an example of positive censorship?
I believe all three are examples of the USPS engaging in positive censorship, 2 and 3 to issue the stamp and failing to reissue a stamp with a quote that was actually hers; an action which may have allowed 2 and 3 to enter into the issue of reissue.
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Pillar Of The Community
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3913 Posts
Posted 05/28/2023   08:26 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add angore to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
I would suggest searching the APRL for articles on censorship. I know there have been articles on censoring mail from serviceman. When I Dad was in Vietnam he left a map with my mom he could give grid coordinates of his location to her to avoid censors but I never recall seeing any letter that was actually censored.

My thread on stamp designs we would not see again was axed because it went out of control.

It is a dreary Memorial Day Weekend that honors those that have fallen.
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Al
Edited by angore - 05/28/2023 08:30 am
Pillar Of The Community
United States
728 Posts
Posted 05/28/2023   09:46 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add alub to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Another direction you can go:

From 1962 to 2001, the U.S. enforced a ban on all Cuban goods, including postage stamps
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Pillar Of The Community
United States
8921 Posts
Posted 05/28/2023   2:30 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add revcollector to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply

Quote:
As for "positive censorship" that seems to be an oxymoron. No? Could you provide an example of positive censorship?


Most of the censorship done during the various wars this country has been involved with was "positive censorship" designed to keep the nation and it's people safe. Which is not to say that political censorship never happened, but that there was far more good then harm done generally.
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Pillar Of The Community
Israel
1208 Posts
Posted 05/28/2023   6:29 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add Rob Roy to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Declaring every censorship as negative is a very subjective point of view.
One of the ways of censorship is preventing certain topics from being even offered for a stamp theme. You won't see stamps glorifying nazi war criminals in Israel or Germany, but you will see them in Ukraine and the Baltic countries. You won't see nude pictures in Muslim religious countries, at least not on postal-used stamps.
Some time ago American racist groups sent letters to Jewish members and added hitler stamps. Some letters reached their destination, maybe some were delayed by postal authorities.
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Bedrock Of The Community
10487 Posts
Posted 05/28/2023   6:55 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add rogdcam to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Interesting comments regarding positive censorship. Something to consider. My view has always been that censorship for other than defense OPSEC purposes is negative and my reason for that POV comes down to who decides what is good and what is bad. Military censorship is fairly straightforward in theory. For example, a seaman writes his family, and the contents reveal his itinerary or how many fellow seamen are stationed in a particular location or that there is a shortage of fuel. You get the drift. Other censorship comes down to a person or entity calling ideological shots. We have seen how that played out with COVID and a certain laptop amongst other topics. It can be very subjective and often you see it increase exponentially to control a narrative once it is seen to be effective. For some that do the censoring the temptation to go further is like eating potato chips. I will take it into consideration though as I explore the pathways for my exhibit.

I am astounded at the amount of postal censorship information out there. It is a very hot topic.
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Pillar Of The Community
Israel
1208 Posts
Posted 05/28/2023   7:54 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add Rob Roy to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Will you look at postal censorship in general or focus on stamp censorship?
Will you look only at censorship without the opposite, propaganda? Like cancelations with messages (save electricity, help the blind, flood victims support)? These two are Ying and Yan.
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Bedrock Of The Community
10487 Posts
Posted 05/28/2023   8:06 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add rogdcam to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Rob - My intent at this point is to tackle postal censorship in general. The propaganda issue is interesting because one man's propaganda is another man's truth many times. It seems to always circle back to who is control at any given time.

The examples you give of slogans such as help the blind and save electricity are not ideological by definition unless there is a tiny fringe that does not want to help the blind and loves large electric bills. I think we all can stand behind those thoughts. If on the other hand the postal service began cancelling postage with something like "support the 2ND Amendment" we would be firmly in ideological territory and heads would explode. I don't intend to focus on nuance but rather censorship that is clear cut and could be conceived as one party trying to control another parties messaging. At least I think that is where I am heading. Also looking at censorship and intolerance. Of course, the really interesting part is how views have changed over time. The Comstock Act and contraception are a good example.
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Moderator
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11891 Posts
Posted 05/28/2023   8:24 pm  Show Profile Check 51studebaker's eBay Listings Bookmark this reply Add 51studebaker to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
I am sure that I read in some of the older USPOD regulations that prohibited the mailing of any information on contraception. Perhaps John Becker can cite the USPOD manual which called that out.
Don
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Pillar Of The Community
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United States
6799 Posts
Posted 05/28/2023   8:46 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add floortrader to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
For new readers and collectors ---- Here are two items from my CENSOR collection

The first is what they are calling "positive censorship" between Allied nations


The second is what you you would call a failure of Censorship by the Brit's or American's
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Pillar Of The Community
Israel
1208 Posts
Posted 05/28/2023   9:01 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add Rob Roy to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
About propaganda - one way to see what ideas are censored or discouraged is to see what ideas are promoted. I don't know the definition of propaganda, maybe "promoting ideas by slogans"?
About my examples, is "Drink milk" a health promotion or dairy lobby promotion?
Another way to detect hidden censorship or intentional shift of general opinion is to compare cancelation ads now and in the past and see what's missing - THAT will be subtle censorship or general mind manipulation.
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Pillar Of The Community
United States
8921 Posts
Posted 05/28/2023   9:02 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add revcollector to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Anyone with multiple examples of concentration camp mail can see obvious censorship in them; I have one from Auschwitz and one from Dachau written by different people at different times and yet the contents are almost identical. It is clear that they were told exactly what they could and could not write.
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Pillar Of The Community
Israel
1208 Posts
Posted 05/28/2023   9:08 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add Rob Roy to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply

Quote:
I have one from Auschwitz

In what language was it written?
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Pillar Of The Community
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6799 Posts
Posted 05/28/2023   9:31 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add floortrader to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
The mail coming out of the Concentration Camps was mostly pre-printed "information cards " which was approved by the RedCross ,there was no time to have translators reading letters . Besides nobody was selling stamps . After the end of the war ,then letter writting was common in the Camps .
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Pillar Of The Community
United States
8921 Posts
Posted 05/28/2023   9:58 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add revcollector to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Rob Roy-Both were written in German, one to the General Government (Auschwitz) and one to Wartheland (Dachau), which was an administrative district also in Poland, but west of the General Government. I have assumed that they were both slave labor, but they do not absolutely have to be.
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