Based on Roderick Bradford’s 2006 biography D.M. Bennett: The Truth Seeker, the film chronicles the life of the controversial nineteenth-century American publisher who some called “the devil’s own advocate.”
Inspired by Thomas Paine, D.M. Bennett founded the “blasphemous” New York City freethought periodical The Truth Seeker and challenged the puritanical Comstock Law, named after U.S. Post Office “special agent” Anthony Comstock, a crusading religious zealot who bragged of driving fifteen persons to suicide. Bennett was unjustly convicted and imprisoned for defiantly mailing an alleged “obscene” free-love booklet to Comstock, the self-described “weeder in God’s garden.” This one-hour production follows Bennett’s evolution from a devout Shaker to an unremitting skeptic and recounts his three arrests culminating in the historically significant United States vs. D.M. Bennett trial which led to a petition campaign for a presidential pardon that went all the way to the White House. Bennett’s journey around the world and flirtation with spiritualism and the occult is revealed along with the controversy surrounding the monument erected to honor “The Defender of Liberty and Its Martyr” still standing today in Brooklyn’s Green-Wood Cemetery.