Executive Order 10450

Executive Order 10450

April 27, 1953

President Eisenhower signed Executive Order 10450.

Executive Order 10450When the Cold War began, irrational fear of anything associated with Communism ruled the day. Clever politicians looking to gain patriotic points simply associated fringe members of society with Communism to disgrace them and sometimes imprison them.

The LGBTQ community was included in this wide-ranging persecution. Historically this period before the Stonewall riots and their marking a new era of activism is known as the Lavender Scare.

Executive Order 10450

          The text of the executive order began with:

 Sec. 8. (a) The investigations conducted pursuant to this order shall be designed to develop information as to whether the employment or retention in employment in the Federal service of the person being investigated is clearly consistent with the interests of the national security. Such information shall relate, but shall not be limited, to the following:

(1) Depending on the relation of the Government employment to the national security:

 (i) Any behavior, activities, or associations which tend to show that the individual is not reliable or trustworthy.

(ii) Any deliberate misrepresentations, falsifications, or omissions of material facts.

(iii) Any criminal, infamous, dishonest, immoral, or notoriously disgraceful conduct, habitual use of intoxicants to excess, drug addiction, sexual perversion(my emphasis)

(iv) Any illness, including any mental condition, of a nature which in the opinion of competent medical authority may cause significant defect in the judgment or reliability of the employee, with due regard to the transient or continuing effect of the illness and the medical findings in such case.

(v) Any facts which furnish reason to believe that the individual may be subjected to coercion, influence, or pressure which may cause him to act contrary to the best interests of the national security.

(2) Commission of any act of sabotage, espionage, treason, or sedition, or attempts thereat or preparation therefore, or conspiring with, or aiding or abetting, another to commit or attempt to commit any act of sabotage, espionage, treason, or sedition.

Executive Order 10450
New Yorker, June 17, 1950


At that time, nearly all of society, including medical professionals, considered homosexuality a sexual perversion. In fact, it wasn’t until December 15, 1973 that the American Psychiatric Association removed the designation of homosexuality as a mental illness.  (NIH article)

The American Psychological Association, a different professional group, removed its designation of homosexuality as unhealthy in 1975. (2003 APA article)

Paul Robert Cohen

Paul Robert Cohen

Are words on a jacket conduct or speech?
And if speech, is it protected?

Bill of Rights

We know our Constitution contains the Bill of Rights and the very first of those first 10 Amendments reads:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Freedom of speech does not mean that we can say anything at anytime. We cannot yell “Fire” in an assembly. Nor can we protest on the steps of the US Supreme Court.

Paul Robert Cohen was 19 and worked in a department store. On  April 26, 1968, Cohen was in the corridor of the Los Angeles Courthouse waiting to testify on behalf of an acquaintance.

He had he met a woman the night before and she had stenciled the words “Fuck the Draft. Stop the War” on his jacket.

Police arrested him

Paul Robert Cohen


A court convicted him of violating Section 415 of the California Penal Code, which prohibited “maliciously and willfully disturb[ing] the peace or quiet of any neighborhood or person [by] offensive conduct” and sentenced him to 30 days in jail. (California Legislative article

Cohen appealed, but the California Court of Appeals upheld the conviction. That Court held that “offensive conduct” means “behavior which has a tendency to provoke others to acts of violence or to in turn disturb the peace.”

Cohen appealed to the California Supreme Court, but that Court denied the appeal.

Fortunately for Cohen, on June 22, 1970, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear an appeal. (1970 NYT article)

Almost a year later, on June 7, 1971 in a 5 – 4 decision, the US Supreme Court agreed that California’s statute had violated Cohen’s freedom of expression.  (Oyez article)

Paul Robert Cohen


In an opinion by Justice John Marshall Harlan, the Court reasoned that the expletive, while provocative, was not directed toward anyone; besides, there was no evidence that people in substantial numbers would be provoked into some kind of physical action by the words on his jacket. Harlan recognized that “one man’s vulgarity is another’s lyric.” In doing so, the Court protected two elements of speech: the emotive (the expression of emotion) and the cognitive (the expression of ideas). (see Oyez article

In his dissenting opinion, Justice Harry Blackmun suggested that Cohen’s wearing of the jacket in the courthouse was not speech but conduct (an “absurd and immature antic“) and therefore not protected by the First Amendment.

Though he asked, Cohen never got back his jacket.

Paul Robert Cohen

CCR Stuart Stu Cook

CCR Stuart Stu Cook

Woodstock alum
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee
April 25–Happy birthday!
CCR Stuart Alden Stu Cook
Stu Cook at Woodstock
CCR Stuart Stu Cook

Stuart’s Start

Stuart Alden Cook was born on April 25, 1945. His first instrument was the trumpet, but when he, John Fogerty, and Doug Clifford formed the Blue Velvets in high school, Cook switched to rhythm guitar.

At a point he bought a bass and decided that was the instrument for him. In a 2014 interview in Bassplayer, Cook said, “I liked bass—you played one note at a time, and you got paid as much as everybody else!”

CCR Stuart Stu Cook

Creedence Clearwater Revival

Creedence Clearwater Revival’s success was not an overnight one, but once it arrived the four members rode a tsunami of hits which included a performance at the Woodstock Music and Art Fair in 1969.

Internal personnel issues arose and Creedence broke up in 1972. Stu Cook and Doug Clifford, friends since high school, formed a production company. They also joined the Don Harrison Band, which released two albums (1976, The Don Harrison Band  and Red Hot in 1977).

The performance of Creedence’s music had gone away. John Fogerty didn’t perform the music until the end of the 1980s and his estranged brother Tom died in 1990. 

Creedence Clearwater Revival was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1993, but “leader” John Fogerty in an unusual move did not invite Stu Cook or Cosmo Clifford to join him playing. John explained in a 2015 Rolling Stone article, “at the end, when everybody’s onstage, jamming, if we all happen to be onstage, that’s fine. I’m just not going to stand on a stage with those people, three in a row, play our songs, and be presented as a band — particularly because these guys just sold their rights in that band to my worst enemy. I also made it very clear that if I didn’t play at all, that was fine too.”

CCR Stuart Stu Cook

CCR forms

CCR Stuart Alden Stu Cook

In 1995 Stu Cook and Doug Clifford formed Creedence Clearwater Revisited and after a court battle regarding the name continues as such today, a testament to the power and popularity of the music.

From AllMusic: Suffice it to say that these guys are singularly unlikely to ever be a major creative force (or even part of one) in rock music the way they were…, and the chance of anything new or fresh issuing forth from them is practically nil. But that’s also true of Chuck Berry and a lot of other names bigger than Cook or Clifford, and CCRevisited does put on a good show, and crowds looking for good-time rock & roll music enjoy them, the same way that Rob Grill & the Grass Roots or whatever version of “Herman’s Hermits” Peter Noone is fronting can pull 15,000 to an outdoor venue on a decent summer night. At least CCRevisited doesn’t pretend to be anything more than what it is, even if they’re not too much more than a flesh-and-blood jukebox.” 

CCR Stuart Stu Cook


From the CCR site, “About the current state of affairs Stu says, “There’s still some meat on the bone, baby.””

CCR Stuart Stu Cook