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Remembering Judith, Part 3: Chris Finan

Posted By Jonathan M. Kelley, Friday, April 11, 2014
Five years ago today, Judith Krug passed away. To honor her memory, we are posting a series of remembrances on the Freedom to Read Foundation blog throughout the day. If you would like to add a memory, please feel free to email or post a note in the comments.

Here are the other parts in the series:
Part 1: Barbara Jones
Part 2: Judith Platt
Part 4: Eva Poole, Mary Minow, Mary Curtis
Part 5: 2009 Memorials

Our third remembrance comes from Chris Finan, President, American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression:

I met Judith Krug in 1982 when I started working for Media Coalition, one of the many anti-censorship organizations that she helped to create.  I was in graduate school at the time and didn't have much background in free speech issues.  I had no experience in advocacy.  It didn't seem to matter at first because things seemed pretty quiet.  But the election of Ronald Reagan changed that in a hurry.  Advocates of censorship felt a new sense of empowerment.  On the left, Catharine McKinnon and Andrea Dworkin introduced legislation to suppress works with sexual content that they believed violated the civil rights of women.  On the right, the Rev. Donald Wildmon threatened boycotts against “anti-Christian” TV shows and retailers of men’s magazines.  The Attorney General’s Commission on Pornography urged state legislatures to toughen obscenity laws and encouraged citizens to protest the sale of constitutionally protected material.

It was a frightening time, but Judy never displayed the slightest nervousness.  I remember her testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee on a so-called “child pornography” bill that was so broadly written that it would have suppressed some of the outstanding pieces of classical and modern art.  Senator Strom Thurmond of South Carolina was the chair at the time.  He glowered at Judy and the other witnesses for our side and tried to throw them off by asking them to state whether they supported the laws banning the sale of obscenity.  Judy didn't fall into the trap but bore in on the weaknesses of the bill.  I was so proud of her that day.

Judy was also indefatigable.  She was always on the move.  We used to joke that a grateful United Airlines rolled the planes right up to her door.  Once I called her “Old Iron Pants.”  She didn't slug me.

Tags:  Judith Krug remembrances 

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