Ulysses: A Mighty Hero in the Fight for Freedom of Expression
44 Pages Posted: 5 Jun 2016
Date Written: June 3, 2016
My high school teacher unceremoniously dropped Dubliners on our desks and insisted that we read it, or we would not pass the class, would not graduate, and would then never amount to anything. I resisted, finding no interest whatsoever, instead (most ironically) preferring to bury my nose into the works of Anthony Burgess. The irony lies in the fact that while I might have found Burgess more appealing to my teenage punk-rock nature, Burgess himself may have been the greatest Joyce fan in history. He so adored Ulysses that he smuggled a copy in to England, where it was banned at the time, by literally clothing himself in it — "As a schoolboy I sneaked the two-volume Odyssey Press edition into England, cut up into sections and distributed all over my body." That is what I call dedication.
It was not until many years later, while I was working on a fishing boat off the coast of Alaska that Joyce took me captive. With no modern communication on the boat, I was left with two categories of reading materials — a collection of 3D pornographic comic books and the works of James Joyce. After devouring the comic books, I reluctantly picked up Joyce. I did manage to graduate from high school without reading Joyce, but at that moment, I regretted having done so.
Years later, as a First Amendment attorney, I then realized that a large portion of what we consider to be modern freedom of expression would not be with us, but for Joyce's masterpiece.
This article might not be more interesting than 3D Pornographic comic books to some, but with any luck the right people will put down the red and blue glasses and read it. If you're still reading this abstract, you are probably one of the right people.
Keywords: First Amendment, James Joyce, Ulysses, Freedom of Expression, Regina v. Hicklin, Comstock, Pornography
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