1. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    Quite a funny legal opinion

    Discussion in 'The Lounge' started by Steerpike, Dec 4, 2013.

    Back in the 1960s, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court had to determine whether Henry Miller's Tropic of Cancer was obscene, and could therefore be banned. The Court said no. Justice Musmanno thought it was obscene and dissented, riffing on Tropic of Cancer. The result is pretty damn funny, and I thought some here might be amused by it.

    Quoting:

    ‘Cancer’ is not a book. It is a cesspool, an open sewer, a pit of putrefaction, a slimy gathering of all that is rotten in the debris of human depravity. And in the center of all this waste and stench, besmearing himself with its foulest defilement, splashes, leaps, cavorts and wallows a bifurcated specimen that responds to the name of Henry Miller. One wonders how the human species could have produced so lecherous, blasphemous, disgusting and amoral a human being as Henry Miller. One wonders why he is received in polite society.

    I would prefer to have as a visitor in my home the most impecunious tramp that ever walked railroad ties, a tramp whose raggedy clothes are held together by faith and a safety pin, a tramp who, throughout his entire life, always moved at a lazy pace, running only to avoid work, a tramp who rides the rods of freight cars with the aplomb of a railroad president in his private train, a tramp who knows as much about Emily Post's etiquette as a chattering chimpanzee, and who couldn't care less; I would prefer to invite that lazy, bewhiskered cavalier of the road to my residence for a short visit, than even to see on the highway that hobo of the mind, that licentious nomad called Henry Miller, whose literary clothes are plastered with filth, whose language is dirtier than any broken sewer that pollutes and contaminates a whole community;-Henry Miller who shuns a bath of clean words, as the devil avoids holy water, who reduces human beings to animals, home standards to the pigsty, and dwells in a land of his own fit only for lice, bedbugs, cockroaches and tapeworms.

    ...
    The Majority has missed a great opportunity to ring the Liberty Bell again for high moral standards. This was a case where the Court did not have to balance between literary excellence and moral turpitude in a book. It did not have to consider what the public might lose in being deprived of a work with some social value as against obscenity, because ‘Cancer’ has no social worth whatever, it has no literary merit, and no information value. It is a scabious toad croaking obscene phrases in a pestiferous swamp of filth and degradation.

    ...

    I regret that the action of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, the oldest Supreme Court in the nation, should result, not in Cancer's being consigned to the garbage can malodorously yawning to receive it, but, instead, in Cancer's being authorized unquestioned entry into the Public Library in Philadelphia within ringing distance of Independence Hall where the Liberty Bell rang out joyously the proclamation of the freedom, independence and Dignity of man.

    I would recoil in dismay if I attempted to visualize the reaction of the founding fathers if they could see this, one of the foulest books that ever disgraced printer's type, now taking a place on the library shelves with the Bible, Pilgrim's Progress, Shakespeare's Works, Plutarch's Lives, Homer's Iliad, Sir Thomas More's Utopia, Cervante's Don Quixote, Thomas Paine's Common Sense, and the other immortal books that inspired the brilliant architects, the brave leaders, the kneeling prayers, and the heroic soldiers who fashioned the United States of America.

    From Pittsburgh to Philadelphia, from Dan to Beersheba, and from the ramparts of the Bible to Samuel Eliot Morison's Oxford History of the American People, I dissent!
     
  2. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    This guy is almost as good a comic writer as Flann O'Brien. Thanks for the chuckle.
     
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  3. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    Some trivia @thirdwind - this guy was also one of the judges at Nuremberg.
     
  4. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    Ha! I found a bunch of funny little anecdotes just from skimming through his Wiki page.
     
  5. chicagoliz
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    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

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    This is not all that different from a few reviews I've seen on amazon. ;-)
     

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