The Porn Warrior at Rest

Ferris Alexander's legacy

That, of course, conforms to a long-established historical trend. The newspaper man and social critic H.L. Mencken noted as much in his essay "Comstockery." The title refers to the 19th-century crusader Anthony Comstock, founder of the New York Society for the Suppression of Vice and the namesake for a federal anti-obscenity statute, the Comstock Law, that would later be applied to authors from Chaucer to F. Scott Fitzgerald.

"As a bookworm, I have gotten so used to lewd and lascivious books that I no longer notice them. They pour in from all directions," Mencken observed. "The most frivolous lady novelists write things that would have made a bartender blush to death two decades ago. If I open a new novel and find nothing about copulation in it, I suspect at once that it is simply a reprint of some forgotten novel of 1885, with a new name."

The federal government (with help from future presidential inquisitor Ken Starr) crushed Ferris Alexander and his adult-entertainment empire. Porn survived.
The federal government (with help from future presidential inquisitor Ken Starr) crushed Ferris Alexander and his adult-entertainment empire. Porn survived.

Mencken wrote those words in 1926. He could have been writing Ferris Alexander's obituary in 2003.

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