The Comstock Laws of 1873, the most successful censorship regime, were used by Republicans to banish reformist impulses under the Civil War Thesis that reached its peak under then-President Grant. (That's Anthony Comstock himself to the right, from Wikipedia.)
If you can't describe the sexual violence and degradation attendant to the rise of industrial New York, you can't possibly change it.
The great successes of the Progressive Movement, such as Jacob Riis' classic How the Other Half Lives, lay in describing this reality so it could be addressed. Forcing attention on what needed reforming required defying what had become the common concept of the law.