Lenny Bruce, the infamous comedian from the 1950s and 1960s, is known for his groundbreaking comedy, which pushed the boundaries of censorship and challenged social norms. He was also a fierce defender of free speech, and he believed that the government had no place regulating or censoring what people could say or write. In fact, Bruce was one of the first public figures to speak out in defense of pornography, arguing that it was a legitimate form of expression that should be protected under the First Amendment. In this blog post, we’ll take a closer look at Bruce’s views on pornography and how they continue to influence the debate around censorship and free speech today.
Bruce’s performances often delved into explicit language and discussions of sexual topics, which frequently led to his arrest on charges of obscenity. In one of his sketches, he asks why children are allowed to see murder and death, but must be protected from seeing two people in lovemaking, enjoying each other and their sensuality. He used his comedy as a platform to challenge societal norms and question the limits of freedom of expression. In this way, one could argue that his confrontational approach contributed to a broader dialogue about the role of censorship and the right to discuss and portray explicit content, including pornography.
Bruce’s defense of pornography was rooted in his belief that people should be free to express themselves in whatever way they choose, without fear of government censorship or punishment. He saw pornography as a form of artistic expression that was no different from other forms of art, such as painting or literature. In his view, the government’s attempt to regulate or ban pornography was a violation of the First Amendment, which guarantees the freedom of speech and the press.
Bruce was particularly incensed by the government’s attempts to prosecute pornography publishers and distributors under obscenity laws. He argued that obscenity was a vague and undefined concept that could be used by the government to suppress any form of speech that it deemed morally objectionable. He also believed that obscenity laws were selectively enforced and used primarily as a tool to harass and intimidate publishers and writers.
Despite facing numerous legal challenges and arrests for his controversial material, Bruce never wavered in his commitment to free speech and artistic expression. He continued to perform and speak out against censorship until his death in 1966. Today, his legacy lives on in the ongoing debate over censorship and free speech, particularly in regards to pornography and other controversial forms of expression.
Many modern-day advocates for free speech and artistic expression cite Bruce as a key influence on their work and beliefs. They argue that his defense of pornography helped to open the door for other forms of expression that were once considered taboo or illegal. They also credit him with helping to shape the modern debate over censorship and the First Amendment, which continues to be a hotly contested issue today.
Lenny Bruce’s defense of pornography was controversial, groundbreaking, and ultimately instrumental in shaping the modern understanding of free speech and artistic expression. While his views on pornography may still be controversial today, there is no doubt that his commitment to defending the First Amendment had a lasting impact on American culture and society. As erotic writers and advocates for free speech, it is important to remember the legacy of Lenny Bruce and the ongoing fight against censorship and government regulation.