WASHINGTON, DC–Contending that morse-coded descriptions of improperly petticoated young ladies are undermining the morals of American boys yet in short pants, U.S. Sen. Strom Thurmond (R-SC) proposed legislation Monday banning telegraph porn.
"My friends, this revolutionary new 'Tele-graph' technology, by which messages are transmitted across vast distances via cable wire, is indeed a wondrous device," Thurmond told fellow members of the Senate. "But certain telegraphers–most corrupt and foul telegraphy men indeed–have debased Mr. Morse's code by using its ingenious dots and dashes to transmit porno-graphs describing flagrantly uncorseted womenfolk. I submit to you, gentlemen, that laws be passed to prevent the tele-graph device from becoming a machine of ill repute!"
Thurmond's proposed legislation would establish stiff penalties for the transmission of certain obscene words and phrases along Western Union's telegram and telegraph wires, including "merry-widow," "bosom," and "underthings," as well as prohibit the use of the word "legs" instead of "limbs" when referring to the female anatomy. In certain contexts, the words"disheveled" and "heaving" would also be regarded as violations of the law, with perpetrators subject to fines of $50 or seven years hard labor on the proposed trans-American steam railroad.
"As our nation recovers from the depredations and ruin of the recent War Of Northern Aggression, we must not permit the tele-graph to become the Devil's instrument," said Thurmond, 95. "Mr. Morse's messaging device must not be allowed to corrupt the hearts and minds of the Republic's youths!"
If approved, Thurmond's Providential Purity Of Telegraphical Missives Bill would be the anti-obscenity victory the senator has been seeking since his proposed censorship of the Sears-Roebuck catalog was vetoed by President Eisenhower in 1958.
"We must not let the tele-graph become a tool of Sin," Thurmond said. "Why, just the other day, one of my lady constituents informed me that her son, through an elaborate button-clicking process by which I assume she means the tele-graph, was able to receive all sorts of messages of women cavorting not only with men, but with tribes of blackamoors, instruments of infernal design, and even the beasts of the field. Such foulness must not be tolerated!"
To help prevent youths from having access to telegraph porn, Thurmond is encouraging concerned parents to use a device known as the "V-switch," a V-shaped piece of metal that blocks Morse coding inappropriate for children.
Thurmond reserved his harshest words for the members of Congress who have been critical of his telegraph-porn bill, including Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA).
"I believe that those among my colleagues who have called my idea 'bull-roar' are seeking profitable telegraphy concessions for their home states," Thurmond said. "And I would specifically remind Miss Feinstein that she is merely a territorial representative of the land known as California, and until that savage desert wasteland is granted statehood, her opinions have no bearing on the business of the Union. Furthermore, as a member of the weaker sex, Miss Feinstein should be ashamed that she is forward enough to speak on the very Senate floor! For shame, Miss Feinstein, for shame!"
Concluding his address, Thurmond reiterated that he is not opposed to the telegraph, but merely to its exploitation and misuse by a small handful of individuals.
"I would no more impede the wheels of Progress than I would permit my granddaughter to wed a Red Indian," Thurmond said. "But things have gone too far. Has Providence inspired in us the modern wonder of the tele-graph, only to see it used as a tool for depravity and women of easy leisure? A thousand times no!"
The senator then died.