thumbnail of At Issue; 67; Obscenity and the Law
Hide -
If this transcript has significant errors that should be corrected, let us know, so we can add it to FIX IT+
and i cj our calling for granted parole and at the national educational television network this man published a magazine called eros is that would be the mirror reflecting love and that was our own ballot of all mankind he insisted the supreme court decisions and made it unlikely eros could be fig leaf by censors these were his publications for issues of gas an autobiography by an arizona woman entitled the housewives handbook of selective promiscuity and only is on the bi weekly newsletter of law in nineteen sixty three anyone brought to trial in philadelphia by the united states post office on the charge of mailing obscene materials this was the
very rock n word found guilty and sentenced to five years in prison ordered to pay fines totaling forty two thousand dollars on march twenty first of this year by a five to four decision the supreme court of the united states appeal that conviction writing for the majority mr justice william brennan declared the leader of the center must permeate the advertising for these publications other justices vigorously dissented among them potter stewart who stated that censorship reflects a society is lack of confidence in itself is a hallmark of an authoritarian regime the petition against bank descended the most vigorously of all he called the decision a triumph of censorship and psychopath at how far should free expression go how far does the first amendment to our constitution permitted to go he is another questions involving not only are more use among vague but our conscious as well will be debated this evening
a national educational television network presents at issue of commentary on events people and ideas at issue this obscenity and a lot of debate on the recent supreme court decisions on obscenity at issue david schoenbaum just what is obscene take for example the sixteenth century painting of eve by lucas credit the elder it hangs in the historic collection of the youth it's a gallery in florence an acclaimed masterpiece and yet some of girl that you had less savvy as indecent if there's conflict in people's minds are reacting to this there's also much in the law that's equally at odds with itself many just claim that the first amendment of our bill of rights sanctions any and olmos of expression except buying fire in a crowded theater actively advocating the violent overthrow of the government
defending a private citizen we're distributing human others may day in the car tradition forbids a raging freedom of the press in any manner and us citizen cannot be brought to trial on obscenity charges those who seek to bar obscene materials have the most confounding festival they must define obscenity legally saying this is obscenity but that is not for almost a century and a half in america ever since the commonwealth of messages is ruled against the sale of fanny hill i can at twenty one the courts have been unable to agree on a precise understandable definition of obscenity just what is obscene leaves of grass the adventures of huckleberry finn an american tragedy perhaps as to carry on elmer gantry jane eyre brave new world each of these
books was put to the bonfire on charges of obscenity by censorship bodies and local and state courts from the mid nineteenth to the early twentieth century in nineteen twenty five theodore does a published a book that has been called one of the greatest novels of its generation an american tragedy that work was banned in boston where a prosecutor found in the novel and i quote the most disgusting the most filthy the most vicious the most devilish line woods had a human being to think about this legal book review persuaded the jury and the work was bad but judge took a different view and throwing out the case against a john mankins american mercury magazine's short story hat rack which was charged with being immoral and followed degrading descriptions the judge dismissed the obscenity charges saying no one but a moron would possibly be affected by it was not until the nineteen twenties
and obscenity cases and the issues they raise began reaching the higher courts of the line in that period five hundred copies of a work by young irish author james joyce were destroyed by the united states post office the work was ulysses in nineteen thirty three random house which sought to publish an american edition of ulysses deliberately arranged for a test case by importing more copies the case went to the us district court and they're after a long deliberation judge john m was eight said that at the heart of his decision was the question of whether a particular book would tend to excite sexual impulses of a person with average sex inspects the judge ruled upon reading ulysses in its entirety as a book must be read in such a test as this the book did not tend to excite lustful thoughts it is only with a normal person that the law is concerned and such a test is the only proper dress for obscenity in
ulysses in spite of its unusual frankness i do not detect any where the leader of the central us i told them that it is not monolithic but even this landmark decision requiring that the book be considered in its entirety failed to clear up the problem of defining obscenity in nineteen forty six at doubleday published edmund wilson's memoir is a faculty county new york society for the suppression of vice an organization founded seventy years earlier by zealot send sir anthony comstock obtained an injunction against the publishers in a new york court of special session of the book was held to be obscene ultimately the case was appealed to the united states supreme court bear witness to justice frankfurter abstaining because of his friendship with the author the court divided equally for the for the and was that i could be gandhi stood condemned as obscene in the state of new york there were
no written decisions no one knew of judge rosie's criterion had been applied concern in the law and obscenity we were still in the dark the next decade did nothing to lift the shroud a whole series of cases in the lower courts ruled against the right to distribute sell and mail such book says gause middle acre and the tropic of cancer it appeared to many civil libertarians at the age of comstock the ageless battle cry was miles not art or literature was again dominate anthony comstock connecticut vaughn ray is and what has been described as the harsh puritan discipline of accommodation house all along the society for the suppression of ice in eighteen seventy three it's a slogan was books our feeders from brothels is there is more revealing one entry in at sixty four red
oh i deplore my sinful week nature's so much if i could but live without sin i should be the happiest so living in sin that follow that is overlooking stealing happiness from a water they will update when the roaring lion shall be bound and his wanderings cities then we will have missed the glorious rest me from sin in eighteen seventy three anthony comstock and his supporters got passed through both houses of congress the law that debate continues to regulate or depositing of obscenity in the male's title eighteen united states code section one four six one reads in part every obscene you'd massively it's indecent filthy of our article not her thing device or substance is declared to be non melanoma anthony comstock was appointed a special agent of the united states post
office to make sure that his law would be enforced three quarters of a century later his influence still prevailed new organizations were formed or a place or augment the old societies for the suppression of vice in detroit defense attorney has observed all of these officers would examine books in a search for words they would regard as obscene and therefore illegal an assistant prosecutor summed up the temper of the times if i feel i wouldn't want my thirteen year old daughter reading it i decide it's illegal finally detroit became the scene of a test case involving the novel the devil rides outside written by john h griffin and published by pocketbooks incorporated in this city the publisher chose deliberately to test the michigan statute which provided that any person who sold a book tending to corrupt the miles of youth was guilty of a misdemeanor they felt that this was unconstitutional believing that adults
should not be denied the right to buy a book simply because the local authorities might feel it was unfit for children about an employee of pocket books and cooperate in a race to sell a copy of the book to a police inspector it was immediately arrested a court ruled the book obscene and fined one hundred dollars his appeal went before the united states supreme court on february twenty fifth nineteen fifty seven in the historic case so versus michigan the court unanimously stated at the michigan statute was unconstitutional ruling that neither state courts nor police officers can limit the reading matter of adults buy standard suitable only for the protection of children still undefined however was exactly what constitute about seventy four adult readers four months later the supreme court did face this problem in the case of roth versus the united states of america the court held for the
first time that the first amendment guarantees do not protect obscenity in then sought to define obscenity by the test of and i quote whether to the average person applying contemporary community standards or dominant theme because it appeals to value and interest to many the language of the lost decision demonstrated once again the difficulty of finding a precise legal definitions on the subject one critic attorney albert spoke for many lawyers when he asked what do community standards mean really means neighborhood standards they referred to an entire city that the state created spend and what about regional standards good that summed up this way this is a completely fictitious creation because the united states does not have a single community standard if the topless
bathing suit is acceptable and san francisco even the two p's you'd is barely acceptable in many towns in the midwest other critics question the use of the word for europe which is derived from the latin for a meeting to itch in effect they said not everyone will feel the same urge to scratch but the phrase dominant theme seemed to help the civil libertarians confirming their belief and the principal that work's must be read in their entire context before judgment could be passed a principal held in the ulysses gaze by judge was it the comstock forces were less divided the national office for decent literature are announced the decision had strengthened the cause of decency and then then postmaster general officer macphail noted the post office department welcomes the decision as a forward step in the drive to keep up scene materials out of the mail
but this is what followed in the wake of the rough position convictions overturned in such cases as lady chet lee's lover the movie and the book the film's game of love and letters and family and remembers long bow and work product of cancer many observers felt the atmosphere had changed because of a new composition of the court what was totally evident was a new attitude reflecting early presented by chief justice earl warren the car is not unaware of the evils of the sensors basic authority of the mischief of the system against which so many great men and wade stubborn and often precarious was there for centuries of the scheme that impedes all communication i hanging frighteningly over creative thought it was against this background that a new magazine known as eros was born the editor publisher was ralph ginsburg a form articles editor at
esquire magazine and author of the book he published himself an unholy view of us because essentially a compendium of banned books and where one could find them in his first mailing piece for the magazine he wrote this eros is a child of its time it has been born as the result of a recent series of court decisions that have realistically interpreted america's obscenity laws and that have given to this country i knew that the freedom of expression eros will take full advantage of this new freedom of expression it will be the magazine of a sexual encounter ross ginsburg published four issues of eros you're in the spring summer autumn in winter of nineteen sixty two it showed number four turned out to be the last on december nineteen nineteen sixty two well ralph ginsburg in a staff were having a christmas office party a united states
marshal came to the door and serve the publisher with an indictment charging him with criminal use of the mail six months later ginsburg stood before judge brody of the us district court in philadelphia to face trial for mailing allegedly obscene material they made his publications us liaison and the housewives and look of selective promiscuity in court during that week the publications were defended by distinguished writers quebec's minister events like the trial lasted a week prof ginsburg was found guilty on twenty eight counts and sentenced to five years in prison with fines totaling forty two thousand dollars on march twenty first this year the united states supreme court upheld the conviction by a five to four vote writing the majority opinion mr justice william brennan added a new ingredient advertising as a criterion for defining upset he said that the publications themselves
might not be obscene wealth standing alone but that they advertising ginsburg used was permeated with the leader of the settlers he called this pandering and how that objectionable under federal obscenity stature the justices also noted that the publishers so it mailing privileges for us from the postmasters of two towns in pennsylvania thousand names were if anything double entendre mailing privileges were denied in pennsylvania some copies were mailed from new jersey and the town of middlesex justice brennan contended that these families were chosen only for the value of their names would have in furthering effort fell the publications on the basis of salacious appeal there were several angry dissent justice william o douglas argued the ruling condemned the advertising technique as old as history which neither democrats nor as one wit on the quality or the legality of the merchandise being offered for sale he was then followed by
justice hugo black who insisted that the government had no right to punish expression of ideas of any kind and by justice potter stewart who said for this promise censorship reflects the societies lack of confidence in itself it is omar of an old four deli in regime just recently the court denied ralph ginsburg a rehearing he now faces five years in a federal penitentiary the case of ralph ginsburg versus the united states it raises many issues concerning freedom of expression with us today as a distinguished group of attorneys specialist on the issue of freedom of expression each of these men has argued obscenity cases said the verge of becoming landmarks of legal opinion mr ed from london and danny was often defended clients before the state supreme court most notably the lady japanese lover of movie case and jack about us versus ohio which involved the film the
levers is the london is the director of the new york civil liberties union next mr alan yu schwartz attorney a member of various committees of the american civil liberties union and coauthor with nora spends of censorship the search for the obscene then well welcome to mr richard chu also a private attorney coordinator for the new york state combined consummate law enforcement officials was to kill was a former chief of the criminal court euro the new york county district attorney's office he's presently completing a book on a saturday and the law at our roundtable mr robert l o for presently in private practice when a farmer assistant united states attorney was to go for help prosecute the government's case against the book lady jacqueline lunn he is an adjunct associate professor rao at new york law school i like for an interview an opening statement getting to the
essentials of the recent supreme court decision what does that mean to you that's what that means to me that the court has now compared to say well did say recently that at work whether it's a book or maria any other kind of a means of expression which by itself is not proven to fit their definitions of absentee this search and earlier cases may be tired of saying that's my word by the way it's advertiser promoted because of the ginsburg case justice brennan's poking and jabbing the court again his opinion i sang that we must so that those works taken by themselves would not make definitions about sending which we sent out however since the advertising promotion of these works or to use his words earthen permeated by the los angeles
that foundation the works themselves up civilian laws that the words had been prohibited publisher and author of the passage in new music and her sentence of five years in jail was the hell armand olivier your views on the same question that you and shorts is admirably summarized it i seem to me though that news opinions and watch twenty one are really the only way out of the backs of the supreme court of painted itself into i had to then the court had indicated that something has any what they call redeeming social value meaning not utterly without redeeming social value then it was not within the definition of obscenity that the nos count on those surveyed some but let's assume that it was the law you got into a situation then where something that might be and mitigated leave violently use a hypothetical case closing and have the olmstead reviews and took him against a
backdrop of peeling paint and cracking plastered on obviously a tenement and called the movie the best things in life are free and then it seems to me you would be in projecting redeeming social value and yet obviously if we ought to have anti obscenity laws by definition a stag movie it was a scene and so the court was in this box and it seemed to me the way out of the box who is to say well let's see the basis of selling its product doesn't sell because it's dealing with a tenement a few up but doesn't sell because of the shelling because of people engaging in the sexual act and i make that basically is what the pandering post is let's see what the appeal is which is used in pushing a product and i think a very sound i think it may require a good deal of failing and to tell you exactly what is pandering and what isn't but i make the directions a sound direction well your views on those questions so far not use i think are wrong
but i would agree with concerns but i'll take a step back as double basically inside the there are the obscenity in a lot of you are thinking the context of the federal law has made the animal planet that didn't need to condition to me i think the standards of workers now which has now become quite well understood as the field of great interest and the further refinement is not changed in any real way bader ginsburg decision that is if we are about work we have to make this very very difficult coalition as to whether a particular work is obscene or not obscene we can look to the method of promotion and i think this is not getting the new there's not a ginsburg moon at least in my opinion but rather a white standard untouched by justice brennan's decision with this new climate which makes made perfectly good sense because it addresses itself to the needs of the community which i think does expect us to
london better defended the other side of the case and it gently lubber says that you think differently what are your views on the essence not the mania just thinking and lessons i disagree with mr terkel and i think this is a turning point i think this reflects a change in the attitude of the kurt and i think it gives an indication that the current economy less restrictive than it has been in the past about the road that took the movies before the decision came down while publicly anticipated and so that was going to happen the ginsburg the court did take a step backward by limiting family prayers from the expression i think it's going to have another effect has already another factor and that is that it has already had the effect the people who felt that
expression convenient there's already a repression of expression admissions everyplace sun publishes who have never received letters from wholesalers suggesting that the publisher has been very careful in scrutinizing the placenta the wholesalers and not to send anything rosenman raised that question because the house of didn't want them and then you have a pervasive restrictions on the press because the publisher himself must exercise a certain kind of censorship and if he hasn't the wholesaler the texas as that for the public even has a chance to sample advertising has changed to the extent that some changes in front of the panama cleans and i said that i had been improvement that doesn't happen
i am out and so that there has been this self imposed censorship of those refer to run the fountain something that never works stern i can't control certainly what a publisher does in dealing with those distributors wholesalers retailers but it seems to me that the one clear thing to come out of these cases they're actually three cases as we all know and birthplace was just one of them was that we're not concerned so what with the quality of the items but we're concerned with the way it is the way it's advertised that way at the moment and so it's an estimated eight publishes a subway getting weary of that it is i would say that if anything this may have a question and get new greater freedom in terms of what you are much because it controls rigorously and lying would you handle it and the publishers of interpreter the
decision as i believe i have no no that they can expect greater restrictions in the future and this is with the wholesalers after that half of the number of colleges and it's not just what you convince your publisher the courts and you have to convince your house says that the concern but says sometimes unknown is there isn't in many many areas you find a very different parts of the publishers had of movie producers on the kind of moving picture feathers now the change was needed for the simple reason the passbooks embarrassment and naturally interesting to know that before much prefers to look for a chemical weapons in some kind of advertising to let them know that this isn't the only may differ on this question and for the better when i need privately and my arm would be re seems to me should be my own business and nobody else's
with iraq and times square the past a movie marquee user but suddenly he asked about other magazines displayed on some of the iraq team with the eleven year old girl a sixteen eleven year old girls it seems to me there is a public interest in protecting me from obnoxious sites and many persons in the community found the times we're moving much easier not just cite a song for the place and people from the from using neon sign out in front of that much maligned then there are pictures of bees going missing from an unbelievably the lead restaurant owner loses the sand should be prevented from using it because it offends my aesthetic that there's another point which was not about the challenge sixteen when the child of thirteen i think that raises another and completely different question and i think that this is an area in which we
would agree and i think that the trial should be protected and can protect the animal can i don't think it's just a normal s's examine that question for a very quick answer your average one of you know a number of florida said the child to be protected but that it's not the state that law to protect journalists there it is big third grade teacher to do that should the child neglect in this old bible on the floor moves that soon as fashion state take actions as russian state actions and i think that's a home bases and watches them questions as you are not pro sixty six read this and toe i can be shown new conditions and tone reason wellness that's foolproof that this will happen and i say
i wouldn't want anyone to decide for my own personalized gentleman activists said ginsburg decision do you think that it's possible to give her a legal definition of obscenity yes again and this will bail this was so much repetition because i think were again before the standard legally as to what is or is not obscene because of the parade so i think this but rather well defined definition which again consistent with us at the very beginning is now nearly refined and i think that's helpful i differ with bob on that if there's any area of the law that in my mind as an abortion it's the eye of the senate i don't know what it feels to private interest is i don't know what's the predominant theme is i don't know it's very standard is i don't know what pan as it seems to me that the effect of all this cannot be blamed on the united states supreme court that starts with statutes the meanings
are they condemned saying lascivious and decent and to find words i think that it is a legitimate legislative functions and sharply defined wants to say specifically what they mean for instance a statute that that might say thousands of people lining up because our bed the statute that might say public displays of nudity showing genitals are where it seems to me this would be interpreting of edwards' obscene in point and just in terms of the specific frame of reference that would consider be the subject matter we the audience see the conditions of display and i think legislators fifty one if you will have completely missed a ball and just talking in this general language an enticing about this and say boy as you learned it could've done the best they can and i think the best is none too willing to definition that mimic of the thing is absolutely
which witch is to out lust and i agree this is this is almost pure nonsense the show's subject of pets could serve has had a non less difficulty in applying it there are grave is not good and when the judge who formulated that that justice brennan said that it wasn't a drug test they just couldn't do any better and one judge judge start a serbian them as hardcore certainly and i don't know what that means now when i say that i yeah i love that i don't think that the supreme court before after the ginsburg position to make any reasonable definition of obscenity and coincidence which is one of about a us has been doing it i think the suggestion is obviously you're in mississippi couldn't have sent a statute that in a course
between people and attunement man and came out as abyssinian mass focusing that we need to get back to the supreme court which will have to say yes when those three things a prairie up saying that this other stuff is completely unreasonable i don't see how that's when you have to rely on personal judgment and his third person of the decisions that will eventually conventions because women swoon anything that i think you can make sense but the supreme court remains in existence as the chief policeman to say that that a statute that that aquatic of the ads aimed at people of different races are seeing is obviously the court would say an unreasonable one man outside of the realm of obscenity as the lawmaking them please don't have to have this is likely to disagree with you perhaps in the future when
you have to have in this area flexibility in it because of the reason it out went out and this is quite sure you cannot have fifty different to find it my standards if the supreme court has to bear the brunt of that maybe you're a monopoly unfortunate but my certificate and they're just as qualified as any judge or try to or any judge and jury trial to reach a standard ensemble to reach a decision on a question which requires flexibility and if you were from community to community requires flexible i mean i think that this this question of flexibility comes really to the core of the matter and i disapprove and flexibility in this area because i believe that the constitution says the expansion should leave or until now every state can pose its own particular standards would make it possible are having their communication system we have today you can change a magazine from state to state media magazine for louisiana and the second one mississippian you can read a book
in a way the reason that way i'm means of communication the mass media now we had to communicate to the whole country it once and we have to have a single standard and i think that to say standardize kind of area is completely valid in every every and which we deal about love liable witches across the state the boundaries different states have different technicalities about of all armed robbery in an estate robberies an interstate burglaries and traditionally in the thing that bothers me it is a prime producer of criminal law that the lord shall be precise of the people will know whether or not they are violating and irwin precise from state to state and this is one area where there's no precision and i do something i'm not sure as ginsburg was whether or not i'm violating the law and that is uncertain and so it's going to serve that most flexible and as a as a human survival and the size of their privacy does love these days the supreme court awesome was higher courts
can live action suit and learning as their government times selig harrison and sean rouse against a public official and there's a trend around privacy decisions are so it seems to many to limit the kind of policy actions in her words they are taking the position we won the freedom of expression and it's ironic it seems to me and that in this one area where there is no question about i can prove damage and consumer advocacy group that allows businesses and the public official reaction in this one area or i can't he's trying to overcome stricter loan out soon surfaces a diversion than a perversion of the hot trend in this country towards increased through expression except where teams douglas's friends expression has prevailed it will actually know it's connected with a gentleman therefore viewed nearly perfect almost six of what it is for
an hour and when i listen to this is a member of the public to a layman i ask a question that i put to you what is the effect of all this upon artistic expression is going to lead this great making writers and painters and we produce a very nervous not knowing where to go oh no no i want the same question to us think it's interesting thing that the way that are about their moment from themselves is that the great works of literature throughout history have been condemned as i'm saying i think those were going to allow them to interfere in london that works of that kind of recognize that i respected and an employee the it seems to me that the answer has to be no
i dont think you can look at any particular segment of society as doctors writers publishers ballasts there is a common core i am passion partially convinced the writer for roll standards of morality or anyone tasted you a record that whatever maybe that is common and well the fine or at least well no it doesn't offend me one bit that we have and which must be justified on the spices because to me it simply as i don't and have never been able to grow it will appreciate and to testify in a post office the problem here is that many chinese neighbors a book is no different than what you found the ladies' home journal because i happen to know that that's not so and i think that you will happen tomorrow least maybe you don't but i happen to believe that it's not so so the same sound and i'm not saying no i'm just saying that number one it seemed to me that i didn't close as the first they were at school and i believe like the gospel is supposed to be flexible the
explainer is completely accurate no now given the criminal statute and they needed there should be less rigid beliefs that are signs and less flexibility but i think it is that i think your clients as publishers don't know what the current traffic will bear i don't think they had this great concern i think world press with any channel we had a pretty good idea that a priority of federal court judge we got this book was going to do what he did robin bothered by the scare tactic in this area by the reference it with great respect that that the things that happened twenty thirty fifty a hundred years ago in terms of what was banned obviously and i think we all can agree on this for the last twenty years have seen a fantastic liberalizing in terms of freedom of the press freedom of movies and so forth compared to what we had twenty years ago and so the fact that xyz was banned years ago that's not wise to what is happening today in allen recently simply endured as i read the latest
decisions this is what we're discussing and barricades they do not yet know if we've come full circle now they do not deal with content of the ideas now i read ginsburg's prefer at least a brief that was filed for him by a hundred or so leading services more than a hundred i think in which they said if this conviction has affirmed what will happen to freedom of oppression freedom of the individual to express themselves and i read it and i say whoa absolute coca growers here you have a man who engaged in what i call over censorship he went through a very defiant and instead of well and sleeper assassins and then reassembled voluntarily to censor might censor and he said you know this is from the bible verses from old english prose of missiles from their country but everything had one thing in common and that was an overriding sex and just very often an interest in what many people turn about sex trade sex tv sex and it seems to me that the sainted an anthology of this sort
of stuff old out of context and dangers and we people are people and we may represent who are right is in danger is our freedom as writers to write something not old out of context i think is just now that honestly i think that for me it's happened in those places and i don't know that it's helping to the kind of sensitive person who is creating something doesn't that have tried that i have had this experiment happening in the past couple months much more vocal and then i learned during that i would've thought you would rise these people won't i'm sure you do any kind of loss against expression has a certain kind of an effect upon people arriving are expressing themselves in life so isis it says is necessary it seems to me that this decision is an unnecessary extension of
intimidation in america you really should not be intimidated but if anything should be encouraged to be expressive as they can get some good books and this can forgive me because without going to the supreme court decision i think it about alice i think in particular was clear roggow was marketed the question the main promoters raised in the year supreme court without them as <unk> the answer is the senate so it has been serving a concern that the last ten years and accurately its last thirty years since nineteen forty two vision fifty germans been gratefully been increasing throughout this fashion that we grow and it's really because there has been consistent consistently entertaining of persons because before that you couldn't
sell us and japanese writer in new york state in the union well because advances have been made but now the pendulum swung back this is what i think that's at the very outset and that is that there is now going to be and has been some restriction this freedom and we're going to have a real value restricted because the clock is running for human expression if there's no causal of relationship that has been established between crime and works of the sky and i think you know that it really was no causal relationships is uncertain and i said ladies and the demonstrators right and why why should you is as lawyers want to have laws to protect society from something that you haven't even and they want to prove that needs protection from our i think one always clear that is correct to say that there's no relationship and i disagree with
david now the question of preventive well it's a question of when it's easy to generalize a much easier for those who oppose the ginsburg rationale or oppression and the generals and if you'll forgive me because i really don't want myself this is that you can pick up any good contemporary magazine wasn't any good speaker and you hear here isn't cries of the attorney general delinquency is on the increase crimes of violence are on the increase crimes of sex was only increased use of drugs with the route i read and the saturday evening post and other campuses the cleary says two thirds of the students use as mordecai and i really not by any means sure if you'll forgive those of that the boomers and really the freedom of the last fourteen years and to some degree responsible and if you're a sovereign indian ocean so good now i i know you disagree with certain certainly
i do to this extent i really go i believe to an extent that the kerry i think that's even have the fronts it but i think that to some extent that is observable and it is documented and honestly i don't know why maybe its economics maybe it's social is increasing population maybe it's the fact that there is much freer expression of things which have more realistically confirmed by parents of the center stands at the front if it's not disturbed by that cry of naivete has been racing has been repeated every single generation certainly in my lifetime and ensuring every generation before that every generation thinks the next one this follows one of the surgeons that they that they were in a state of my sentiments of the generation before them in the generation before i think the track we have restrained myself in a position to fight him from using
this and i really got serious musings on you would need to be used in its unbeaten and the labor and become suspect i'm not so sure i'm not so sure that the as i said before what the effect of salacious material is a it's not preventable it's it's it's we're not sure that we have to fight back on something less birth is a citizen not as a lion i'm not sure now oh a party unable to demonstrate to make that a society is in danger that i would rather not have alarms the us as it does something that is the lifeblood of a democracy which is concussions and to justify a limitation on this rob mcmillan and it doesn't and that i think that now in terms of the serious incursion inquiry weather service and i think we've seen the extent that allows develop where the market to sell the story of our other books can be published and publish freely
so that i don't think we're worried about my not being permitted to have to write a book in which i indicate a nd haven't of course would not that christine at this point that curtain but i've been suggesting that every society every society has its to bloom and every society and they say that the words now that they have been used for generations but i say every society whether or not there has or has not been decay as a legitimate interest in what it at that they've invested in terms more out and i don't think you need to justify the obscenity laws by showing the crime has caused oh that we were more effective and society debate and was true ten years ago i had an agent has just thirteen margaret mead said writing some years ago every known human society exercises sound it's less censorship will be relating to the human body is especially as that behavior and bows amanda assets and i say wait for the thing that great just the sao paulo owns a very liberal justice had and this is
just to say and i think this may be the keystone lot of the my position you said the first requirement of a sound body of law is that it should pass on what the actual feelings and demands of the community whether it and i say if the community demands that certain explicit representation of sexual acts being not displayed on billboards and not so the youngsters maybe not even sold adult yet this is a community demand in the year nineteen sixty six i think that the man with the expression on snapchat resists that dow yeah but i don't know we have a little time left but i think this is an important statement is kind of the nadir be the end and you had briefly explained it you're necessarily the right to legislate against american citizen made him hidden code of its history then you get into the question of what happens if that mr allen
and sex and often political and tunes in russia movement than that and that was i figure good as instances years into a census seventh avenue is when because of in that under the colorado that they have set up that you said that would be a perfectly justified do you think that ralph ginsburg should've been sentenced condemned to prison without you and i think that's it this is in a sense of a different sort of uniformity in sentencing and someplace some some judgment a measure alone the scale of criminal offenses against assad a fan definitely a conviction for a ballot in the world which i think is quite clear maybe not quite so clear the proper is the lawyer fadi a sense americans a
harsh samir khan since you're a rich with bomb there was some uniformity in sentencing but if there's any area in which the court's going to the family of a lot it is sentencing and this may be an incident so that basically there have been exceptions but basically sentencing should be so we are certainly primarily a function of the judiciary and i must defer to the wisdom of the judiciary in this area but i point out simply parenthetically when ginsberg himself was noted in the majority opinion the risks he was writing he was running a calculated risk he saw the actual that his books might not under the pending cuts but might in some fashion well at the obscenity law and he was making a good book on it and before it erodes a native about another thing that is impossible to the question do you think that and the bird showed that addresses so they'd the best enshrined it is this is a judicial function and it has not been demonstrated to me if we don't have any
deterrent effect and the law on the law of obscenity shouldn't deterrent effect like anything out it has not been demonstrated to me that this sentence was beyond the realm of reasonable judicial discretion well thank you very much you think that that was so perfect so you can go online not suggesting it's a sentence i would've been close but i do not have any reason to believe it was beyond that the discussion that only was the son it's a freshman but i think of if only for the reason that the court was creating new crime the crime before was that you couldn't sell a center the most obscene material not a avenue under new crime which was advertised because the court said that you couldn't have connected with you add to have this element of improper advertising then we think he should be connected i think it's wrong to create a new crime and convict a
man or the act of the act has been done we have in the constitution andrew against legislation that time which we call the experts backed the legislation anand that injunction of the power within the same time ensure been convicted under them and sons their faces come through today there's probably no proof of any harm being very mean this seems to me that if you wanta live is set on the faces of morality or crimes against social crimes against the state sounds like russia doesn't have that that's what it comes down to the main issue be some civil penalties are injunctions are things that goes with this committee was rather different as far as the overall concept than the commission has to say well gentlemen i been missing with with great interest and i'm sorry we had to cut this off with his earlier in our discussion thank you feared very interesting lightning a very eloquent comments we've been talking to date with mr alan schwartz
the stuff from london on my left ear mr richard june purely a geographical location and mr robert tuttle it seems unlikely that obscenity and a lot will soon become compatible to opinions expressed by two justices of the supreme court showed the clash of ideas that move an effect does oil mr justus frank murphy has written there is certain well defined and narrowly limited classes of speech the prevention and punishment of which have never been thought to raise any constitutional problem these include valued ended up singing it well observers such utterances are no essential part of any exposition of ideas and are of such slight social value as a step the truth that any benefit that may be derived from them is clearly outweighed by the social interest in order and morality however there's the justice potter stewart said well no those
are our first amendment chartered a different course they believed a society can be pretty strong only when it is only three in the realm of expression they put their faithful and often worse in the enlightened joyce of the people freed from the interference of a policeman's intrusive a judge is it happened so it is that the constitution protects course expression as well as refined and vulgarity no less than elegance a book with us to me they convey something of value to my neighbor and the free society to which our constitution as committed as it is for each of us to choose for himself this is david show run for at issue mm
hmm it's been nice nico
At Issue
Episode Number
Obscenity and the Law
Producing Organization
National Educational Television and Radio Center
Contributing Organization
Library of Congress (Washington, District of Columbia)
If you have more information about this item than what is given here, or if you have concerns about this record, we want to know! Contact us, indicating the AAPB ID (cpb-aacip/512-2f7jq0tk6v).
Episode Description
For more than a century police and courts around the country have wrestled with the problems of obscenity and pornography. At one time or another, censors and local and state courts have banned such works as The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, An American Tragedy, Elmer Gantry, Jane Eyre, and Brave New World. The sands of justice apparently have shifted again. On March 21, 1966, the United States Supreme Court, in separate decisions, reversed a lower court ruling that Fanny Hill was obscene and upheld an obscenity conviction against Ralph Ginzburg, publisher of the magazine Eros. For a review of censorship and obscenity laws in this country, and a debate on the celebrated Ginzburg case. National Educational Television, in its monthly At Issue series is presenting Obscenity and the Law: A Debate on Recent Supreme Court Decisions. Veteran correspondent David Schoenbrun, who was most for N.E.Ts eight-part television series Great Decision 1966, will be the commentator for this program. Specifically, Obscenity and the Law examines such aspects as: the bounds of freedom of speech; the extent to which they are guaranteed under the First Amendment to the Constitution; and the issue of censorship versus public morality. Appearing on the program to discuss Ralph Ginzburg v. the United States are Ephraim London, noted attorney in censorship trials who defend charges against the motion pictures Lady Chatterleys Lover and The Miracle and who edited the two volume The World of Law; Alan U. Schwartz, Counsel to the Civil Liberties Unions radio and television committee and author of Censorship: The Search for the Obscene; Robert Tofel, a former Assistant U.S. Attorney who prosecuted the governments case against the book, Lady Chatterleys Lover; and Richard H. Kuh, coordinator for the New York State Combined Council of Law Enforcement Officials and former chief of the Criminal Court Bureau in the New York County District Attorneys Office. He has written a book on obscenity and the law which will be published in the fall. On March 21, 1966, by a 5-4 vote, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld convictions against Mr. Ginzburg who was found guilty by a District Court Judge in Pennsylvania of violating a Federal obscenity law by sending his three publications, Eros, Liaison, and The Housewifes Handbook on Selective Promiscuity through the mails. In the majority opinion of the Supreme Court, Justice William J. Brennan Jr. wrote that, the leer of the sensualist permeates the advertising for the three publications. The reference to advertising and promotional material, as a factor in determining obscenity, marked a departure from the Courts adherence to the obscenity test it established in 1957 in Roth v. United States. In one of three dissenting opinions written, Justice Potter Stewart warned, Censorship reflects a societys lack of confident in itself. It is a hallmark of an authoritarian regime. It is against the background of such divergent opinions by the Justices that At Issue: Obscenity and the Law focuses on this national issue which involves legal and literary worlds, as well as the public in general. Running Time: 57:45 (Description adapted from documents in the NET Microfiche)
Episode Description
This one-hour videotaped program will be a summary of obscenity and the law in the United States from the 1821 Massachusetts ban on Fanny Hill to the 1966 Supreme Court Decision on Eros. (Description adapted from documents in the NET Microfiche)
Episode Description
1 hour piece, produced by NET and initially distributed by NET in 1966.
Episode Description
The program will consist mainly of a debate on the recent Supreme Court decision upholding the obscenity conviction of Ralph Ginzburg, publisher of Eros. The participants in the debate will be lawyers and literary figures. The program will also include an interview with Mr. Ginzburg and a brief description of his magazine. (Description adapted from documents in the NET Microfiche)
Episode Description
An examination of the controversy over what is and what is not obscenity, and in particular, over the conviction of Ralph Ginzburg, publisher of the now defunct Eros magazine. (Source: NET Jan-June 1966 Semi-Annual Report) (Description adapted from documents in the NET Microfiche)
Other Description
At Issue consists of 69 half-hour and hour-long episodes produced in 1963-1966 by NET, which were originally shot on videotape in black and white and color.
Broadcast Date
Asset type
Talk Show
Social Issues
Politics and Government
Law Enforcement and Crime
Media type
Moving Image
Embed Code
Copy and paste this HTML to include AAPB content on your blog or webpage.
Director: Rigsby, Gordon
Executive Producer: Perlmutter, Alvin H.
Guest: London, Ephraim
Guest: Kuh, Richard H.
Guest: Schwartz, Alan U.
Guest: Tofel, Robert
Host: Schoenbrun, David
Producer: Silverstein, Morton
Producing Organization: National Educational Television and Radio Center
Writer: Silverstein, Morton
AAPB Contributor Holdings
Library of Congress
Identifier: 2047441-1 (MAVIS Item ID)
Format: 2 inch videotape
Generation: Master
Color: B&W
Library of Congress
Identifier: 2047441-2 (MAVIS Item ID)
Format: 1 inch videotape: SMPTE Type C
Generation: Master
Color: B&W
Library of Congress
Identifier: 2047441-3 (MAVIS Item ID)
Format: U-matic
Generation: Copy: Access
Color: B&W
Library of Congress
Identifier: 2047441-4 (MAVIS Item ID)
Generation: Master
Library of Congress
Identifier: 2047441-5 (MAVIS Item ID)
Generation: Copy: Access
If you have a copy of this asset and would like us to add it to our catalog, please contact us.
Chicago: “At Issue; 67; Obscenity and the Law,” 1966-06-01, Library of Congress, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed August 19, 2022,
MLA: “At Issue; 67; Obscenity and the Law.” 1966-06-01. Library of Congress, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. August 19, 2022. <>.
APA: At Issue; 67; Obscenity and the Law. Boston, MA: Library of Congress, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from