Monday, July 2, 2007

Deadwood and comstock laws

I love the HBO series, Deadwood. When I watch the show, I always have to wonder ... did people really swear that much back then? I know we are all products of media that we are exposed to, but still, it is odd for me to see an old Western town with people talking trash. Apparently, people did speak that way probably worse than they do on Deadwood because these folks were not well educated and illiterate. They came west due to not having any opportunities in the East. We idealize their courage so why not their words.

Hollywood has certainly sanitized our impressions of the West but it doesn't stop there. Comstock Laws passed in the mid-to-late-19th century prevented "obscene, lewd, and/or lascivious" materials in the mail. With this in mind, historians could get a skewed view of how folks talked if they could never swear while writing. Comstock laws also restricted anyone from writing about any type of birth control, but that has since been deemed unconstitutional.

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