The New York Times is growing fond of the front-page obituary, and it’s not just for global figures like Nelson Mandela. This pseudo-prestigious spot can be reserved for the best-remembered denizens of the gutter.
On Friday’s front page, the Times hailed Al Goldstein, the local pornographer who published Screw magazine, with the headline “A Publisher That Took the Romance Out of Sex.” (Three years ago, Penthouse founded Bob Guccione was relegated to page 34.) He “lived to shock and offend,” wrote Andy Newman. But the Times failed to include his anti-religious bigotry. Take this example from LifeSiteNews:
He once discussed his motivation for making pornography. “The only reason that Jews are in pornography is that we think that Christ sucks. Catholicism sucks. We Jews don’t believe in authoritarianism,” he said.
When asked if he believed in God, Goldstein replied, “I’m God. F--- God.”
One might think that kind of controversial statement would make an obituary, but not in The New York Times. Crisis Magazine also collected this gem:
I oftentimes attack the evils of hypocrisy I see around me. But what is the root cause of the world’s self-deception? Simply put, it is the Catholic Church. This is a group of superstitious celibates who feel that all pleasure is loathsome. This is an organization that intends to enslave us with its rhetoric…. Whatever makes sense the Church is opposed to.
The Times did include this testimonial:
“He clearly coarsened American sensibilities,” Alan M. Dershowitz, the civil liberties advocate and Mr. Goldstein’s sometime lawyer, said in 2004....“Goldstein’s contribution is to be utterly tasteless.”
The headline inside the paper on page B-18 was "Al Goldstein, Whose Dirty Magazine, Made No Pretense of Class, Dies at 77". The text box summed up their view: "A New Yorker lived to shock and offend, but social mores and technology changed." Newman didn't leave out some of his lowest moments with his own child:
Meanwhile, his vendettas came to seem more petty and personal. He was convicted in 2002 of harassing a former secretary in the pages of Screw, though that conviction, too, was overturned. After his son, Jordan, disinvited him to his graduation from Harvard Law School, Mr. Goldstein published doctored photos showing Jordan having sex with various men and with his own mother, Mr. Goldstein's third ex-wife, Gena.
But then, Goldstein didn't have any taste in obituary writing, either. Soon after the death of Cardinal Terence Cooke in 1983, “Screw” proclaimed: “Cooke was hounded out of this life by a vengeful god, a god furious at the church for disallowing birth control when there are hungry and unwanted children by the millions.”