Ralph Ginzburg, an editor and publisher who became an icon of free speech in the 1960s, died Thursday in New York of cancer.
He was 76.
Ginzburg rose to prominence in 1962 with the publication of Eros, a hardcover magazine of literate eroticism. It lasted only four issues before Ginzburg was charged with promoting obscenity. He appealed all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, which upheld his conviction in one of the last major federal obscenity cases to go before the court. He eventually spent eight months in prison in the early 1970s.
In 1964, Ginzburg's Fact magazine published a special issue on the "Mind of Barry Goldwater," that year's Republican presidential candidate. Because the issue indicated Goldwater was psychologically unfit to hold office, the senator sued him for libel. Ginzburg again was convicted and that case too went to the Supreme Court. He paid $1 in compensatory damages and $75,000 in punitive damages.
Village Voice columnist and first amendment advocate Nat Hentoff also wrote for Eros. He talks with Sheilah Kast about Ginzburg's career and legacy.