(part three of a weekly ongoing series about the influence of pornography on American society)
In the American legal system, court cases can have major impacts on law that last for generations. While the case itself may not directly say a certain end, what matters is if within the case the philosophy can be justified for allowing said end to be realized.
Roe v. Wade in 1973, for example, did not say “children should be murdered up to the day of birth,” but the language of the ruling allowed for some states, barring later state regulations and further and more aggressive court cases, for this to happen.
Brown v. Board of Ed. in 1954, as it is often cited by people in the “civil rights” movement, was considered a “landmark” case that brought about many of the changes concerning segregation, school choice, and arguably the justification for the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
State of Tennessee v. J. T. Scopes, known as the “Scopes Monkey Trial” from the year 1925 was considered a major step in the removal of all forms of religion from public schools and the enforcement of a secular-agnosticism as the main philosophy.
These are just three major cases from the 20th century, and there are surely more that could be included on this list.
In light of this, I would like to bring up a fourth case that is as equally important as the above four because this court case, while almost never discussed or known by people, forever changed American society because it was what allowed for the fundamental transformation of American life from one of at least holding a certain standard of scruples toward public behavior into the full-blown, open, shameless cesspool of filth that now dominates television, film, and books.
The case was called Roth v. United States, and it is the story of how Samuel Roth, a Jewish filth peddler from New York, turned America into the porn capitol of the world.
If you go to many American cities, you will find at least one “adult bookstore.” Now if one walks into an adult “bookstore” one should not be surprised if one does not find classical works of literature, encyclopedias, or technical manuals. In fact, one should be surprised if there are any books in there at all save for a few cheap “romance novels” and “how to” books for sexual activities with more pictures than text. The term “adult bookstore” is like the New England term “Package Store”, a euphemysm for covering up a sordid reality. In the case of “package stores,” it is a cover for alcohol, while “adult bookstore” is but a cover for “porn shop” and many times, a house of prostitution.
So why are they called “adult bookstores?” What is the history of this?
As noted above, we have to go all the way back to the lower east side of Manhattan to the Roth family, who were Jewish migrants from the Pale of Settlement and to the son of Yosef Leib Roth his wife Sarah. Their son, Samuel, started working as a young boy and by the age of sixteen in 1913 was a reporter for a local paper. By 1921 at the age of 23, he opened his own bookshop where he began writing poetry about Zionism, life in eastern Europe, and calling out the “hope” of America against what he saw as a “morally rotten” Europe. He received praise dfrom many Jewish writers and artists of his time, including Israel Zangwill and Maurice Samuel.
In spite of Roth’s moral exudes, he did not care much for morality himself. At the time in the US, there were many laws of printing certain passages from books considered obscene. Roth worked to secure illegal copies of such books and the print them, and through this act of piracy he was not only breaking the laws on obscenity, but by having them printed he was bypassing publishing contracts and pocketing all profits from the book without anything going to the authors. One censored author, James Joyce of the novel Ulysses, became aware of what was happening and was so outraged that he and his published worked to organize an international movement against Roth to stop him from pirating their works and to expose him for his criminal behavior in 1927. At this time, Roth’s illegal endeavors also began moving him into publishing pornographic literature, something that was highly illegal.
When the stock market crashed in 1929, it not only forced Roth into bankruptcy, but also was the year that he was sent to jail for selling pornographic novels following a raid from the New York Society for the Suppression of Vice. Roth spent a year in prison, but as soon as he was out, and with a historically yet undiscussed source as to where he acquired his next round of funds from, Roth resumed his publication business. The difference was that this time Roth decided to focus the majority of his business on publishing hardcore pornography in the philosophical line what would become the future model of “adult magazines” such as Playboy, Screw, or Hustler. He also was known for publishing homosexual porn.
Roth’s porn peddling attracted the FBI, who began tracing works back to him and arrested him in 1936 on obscenity charges, convicted him and sent him to prison until 1939. However, Roth was not moved at all, and as soon as he was out again, with unknown sources of funding, he immediately resumed his filth peddling.
While the majority of Roth’s “business” income came from pornography, the “bookstore” was still the “legitimate” front of his business, and he continued to sell merchandise promoting Zionism from it. One of the books that he published and sold through his store was from 1934 and was called Jews Must Live: An Account of the Persecution of the world by Israel on all the frontiers of civilization.
This book is popularly described as an “anti-semitic” work due to its discussion of Jewish supremacism and noting a desire, held on the basis of the Talmud, the Judaism is inherently opposed to Christianity and seeks to destroy the religion and morally soil her followers as a perpetual mockery of Christ. However, in spite of Roth’s criticisms of his fellow Jews, there is no evidence to indicate anywhere that Roth even renounced Judaism or his support of Zionist causes, and as Wikipedia notes, “he continued to be an Orthodox Jew throughout his life” while continuing to provide direct help to well-known national socialists, such George Viereck.
Shoebat.com has noted many times that the historical record as provided by Jews and Germans from the period is unmistakably clear as to the relationship between the two, and that is that both groups worked closely to support each other. National Socialist philosophy itself was admittedly based, in the words of Rudolph von Sebottendorf, on the Talmud itself, and he was personally trained by the Termudi, a powerful Jewish family of well-known Kabbalists in Turkey.
Roth’s criticism of Judaism and Jews, therefore, cannot be taken as “anti-semitism,” for his own life shows nothing of the sort. Rather, the question must be asked as if Roth was attempting to incite, as it has been demonstrated before, hatred against fellow Jews in order to control public discourse about the role of Jews in National Socialism or other revolutionary movements of the period. However, this is a matter for discussion at a later point.
Roth continued to publish pornography throughout the 1940s and into the 1950s until 1957, when after Roth was convicted again for peddling porn, he appealed his case to the Supreme Court, which took his case and ruled in favor of Roth.
The essence of the Roth case was not that it made any major changes to the law, but that it put the law into a state of ambiguity as to the nature of the word “obscenity”. This is similar to the Brown v. Board of Ed case in that while the case did not solve the issues of race that were real in the nation, it was the first serious “crack” at the previous status quo. The same was with Roth vs. United States, because prior to the Roth case, “obscenity” was defined by what was called the Hicklin test and was settled in 1868 in the UK and went into law in the US known as the Comstock Act in 1873, which held generally that literature is “obscene” if it would happen “to deprave and corrupt those whose minds are open to such immoral influences, and into whose hands a publication of this sort may fall”.
The Hicklin test was already under attack by 1933 with the publication of Ulysses in the US, and which Roth was reprinting illegally and selling from his shop. However, the Roth case put an end to the Hicklin test after the US Supreme Court ruled that:
“…[obscenity], as material whose “dominant theme taken as a whole appeals to the prurient interest” of the “average person, applying contemporary community standards.” Only material meeting this test could be banned as “obscene.” However, Brennan reaffirmed that obscenity was not protected by the First Amendment and thus upheld the convictions of Roth and Alberts for publishing and sending obscene material through the mail. (source)
The question becomes, what are “community standards”?
This set in motion the opening of the way for pornographic publications and film because each person would argue that filming sex or nudity was “appropriate” by the “community standards” in their area, regardless of what the “community” actually believed.
We will explore more of the legal cases in the coming weeks.
Roth died in 1974, and his case is rarely discussed today. However, from a perverted Jewish bookseller in New York who expressed beliefs in Jewish supremacy and was rumored to have also been involved in sodomite activities, every piece of pornographic material that has come since this case bears his imprint because it was he who fought the laws, defied them, and twisted them until he got what he wanted, which was the opening of the way to legalizing moral filth in the name of profit.