Poem of the day

Rick Santorum says the Obama administration is soft on smut. “Hard-core pornography is very damaging, particularly to young people,” he declared, just like contraception, gays, and man-on-dog action. “A wealth of research is now available demonstrating that pornography causes profound brain changes in both children and adults, resulting in widespread negative consequences.”

With Santorum teasing the effects of booby pictures out of your brainwaves, and with our possible first Mormon president meanwhile buying up inert convention delegates like so many rubber dildos, this might be the moment to remember Reed Smoot. Back in 1930 the Utah Republican — the first Mormon ever to serve in the US Senate — proposed severe new tariffs on imports. (The “Smoot-Hawley Tariff” bill, passed that year, strangled trade and deepened the Great Depression.) During debate, Smoot also urged giving customs officers powers to keep “obscene” literature from the US.  From behind a Senate desk heaped with exhibits of “beastly” books, including such foreign filth as the Kama Sutra, Rabelais, and the poems of Robert Burns, Smoot demanded a ban on whatever offended “the moral sense of the average person.”

This response appeared in the New Yorker. It includes a Hall of Fame of ephemeral national heroes, unimpeachably moral figures, Prohibition supporters, and diehard Republicans of the time. How little has changed.

Invocation (by Ogden Nash, 1902-1971)


Senator Smoot (Republican, Ut.)
Is planning a ban on smut.
Oh rooti-ti-toot for Smoot of Ut.,
And his reverend occiput.
Smite, Smoot, smite for Ut.,
Grit your molars and do your dut.,
Gird up your l–ns,
Smite h-p and th-gh,
We’ll all be Kansas
By and by.

Smite, Smoot, for the Watch and Ward,
For Hiram Johnson and Henry Ford,
For Bishop Cannon and John D., Junior,
For ex-Gov. Pinchot of Pennsylvunia,
For John S. Sumner and Elder Hays
And possibly Edward L. Bernays,
For Orville Poland and Ella Boole,
For Mother Machree and the Shelton pool.
When smut’s to be smitten
Smoot will smite
For G-d, for country,
And Fahrenheit.

Senator Smoot is an institute
Not to be bribed with pelf;
He guards our homes from erotic tomes
By reading them all himself.
Smite, Smoot, smite for Ut.,
They’re smuggling smut from Balt. to Butte!
Strongest and sternest
Of your s-x
Scatter the scoundrels
From Can. to Mex!

Smite, Smoot, for Smedley Butler,
For any good man by the name of Cutler,
Smite for the W.C.T.U,
For Rockne‘s team and for Leader‘s crew,
For Florence Coolidge and Admiral Byrd,
For Billy Sunday and John D., Third,
For Grantland Rice and for Albie Booth,
For the Woman’s Auxiliary of Duluth,
Smite, Smoot,
Be rugged and rough,
Smut if smitten
Is front-page stuff.

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