First Amendment News

Robert Corn-Revere with his book, The Mind of the Censor

Corn-Revere’s ‘The Mind of the Censor and the Eye of the Beholder’ to be released tomorrow — FAN 318

"Bob Corn-Revere has written a book of stunning originality and importance." — Erwin Chemerinsky

November 3, 2021

The advance praise for Robert Corn-Revere’sThe Mind of the Censor and the Eye of the Beholder” (Cambridge University Press) signals what may be the most important book on free speech published in decades. Here is a sampling:

“Corn-Revere’s extraordinary The Mind of the Censor and the Eye of the Beholder offers a riveting review and astute analysis of the evolution of free expression – and censorship of free speech – in the U.S. through the eras of Anthony Comstock, ‘offensive’ comic books, porn rock, the FCC’s regulation of the ‘vast wasteland,’ fleeting expletives, and the indecency wars of the twenty-first century. Corn-Revere brings to life the absurdities of censorship and the dangers such views pose to American liberty and democracy. This original work is informative, insightful, and often wildly entertaining.” — Geoffrey R. Stone

Book cover and blurbs of Robert Corn-Revere's book, 'Mind of the Censor.'

Abstract:

Beginning in the nineteenth century with Anthony Comstock, America’s ‘censor in chief,’ The Mind of the Censor and the Eye of the Beholder explores how censors operate and why they wore out their welcome in society at large. This book explains how the same tactics were tried and eventually failed in the twentieth century, with efforts to censor music, comic books, television, and other forms of popular entertainment. The historic examples illustrate not just the mindset and tactics of censors, but why they are the ultimate counterculture warriors and why, in free societies, censors never occupy the moral high ground. This book is for anyone who wants to know more about why freedom of speech is important and how protections for free expression became part of the American identity.

 Number 1 New Release in Constitutional Law (Amazon)

Author website

Here is the table of contents:

The Mind of the Censor chapter list

Corn-Revere interviewed on FIRE’s So to Speak podcast:

Greg Lukianoff, Adam Goldstein, and Ryne Weiss, “‘The Mind of the Censor and the Eye of the Beholder’ introduces a new generation to the infamous (and often absurd) Anthony Comstock,” FIRE (Nov. 1)

Robert Corn-Revere's book, 'Mind of a Censor,' on a table.

 Cato video event with Robert Corn-Revere, Catherine J. Ross, Jason Kuznicki, & John Samples

  • “We would all do well to learn about the nature of censorship, and Robert Corn-Revere’s new book is a most valuable step in that direction.” — Floyd Abrams

Forthcoming First Amendment Salon (Dec. 9): Knight First Amendment Institute’s Katie Fallow interviews Corn-Revere 

  •  “By tracing the efforts at censorship in American history, Corn-Revere shows us the temptations for censorship exist in every generation. Inevitably, the censors self-righteously think that they are doing good for society by stopping harmful speech. And inevitably, in hindsight, we realize that the efforts at censorship were a huge mistake. Corn-Revere’s engagingly written book provides a powerful defense of freedom of speech and of freedom of thought.” — Erwin Chemerinsky
  • “Bob Corn-Revere is my friend and I love this book. I’m not saying I love this book because Bob’s my friend – he’s my friend because I love this book. A lot of what’s good about Bob is in this book. It tells great stories. It’s smart, funny, knowledgeable, honest, freedom-loving, and works for truth, justice, and the American way. This book will prove to you that Bob is as groovy as Superman, without the stupid cape. Shit, piss, fuck, cunt, cocksucker, motherfucker, tits! Read it.” — Penn Jillette

Related: Excerpted segments & commentaries 

Authors Share Excerpts on Free Speech: Robert Corn-Revere and the Censor’s Dilemma,” First Amendment Watch (Nov. 2)

The Return of Anthony Comstock, Part 1: The Prodigal Censor,” Volokh Conspiracy (Nov. 3) (1st of a 3-part series by Corn-Revere)

Related: Upcoming events

  • American Constitution Society, University of Chicago (Nov. 8)
  • Federalist Society, University of Illinois (Nov. 10)
  • Eastern Illinois University (Nov. 11)
  • First Amendment Clinic, George Mason University (Nov. 16)
  • Interview, Dave Congalton Radio Show (KVEC) (Nov. 18)
  • Beer and Book Event, Flying Dog Brewery (Nov. 20)

Full disclosure: I am credited in the acknowledgments of Mr. Corn-Revere’s book.


2021-2022 SCOTUS term: Free expression & related cases

Review granted

Pending petitions

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This article is part of First Amendment News, an editorially independent publication edited by Professor Ronald K. L. Collins and hosted by FIRE as part of our mission to educate the public about First Amendment issues. Opinions expressed are those of the article's author(s) and may not reflect the opinions of FIRE or of Professor Collins.