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 email@example.com or post a note in the comments.
Here are the other parts in the series:
Part 1: Barbara JonesPart 2: Judith PlattPart 4: Eva Poole, Mary Minow, Mary CurtisPart 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.