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there's a backstory i met harrison in the nineteen thirties the hollywood examining job green started century nearly every film headed to theaters while but the city owes a lot of this as everybody in hollywood new but joe brain was far preferable to censorship boards and states across america those guys were really like these have been in the police department sponsors american history at president john adams imprisoned journalists stuart adams has having hands wreaking havoc for this week than the history of censorship from suppressing the debate over slavery time reporters and difficult war with voluntary guidelines if those rules were following you could be covering our report anybody can have on backstory the history of censorship major funding for baxter is provided by the shia khan foundation the national endowment for the humanities the joseph and rubber cornell memorial foundation and the
author of mining davis foundation says braun the virginia foundation for the humanities business back stories this clip american history guys back welcome to the show i'm brian balogh and here with peer out if neither brown and eight years is with us and we're going to begin the day in the summer and eighteen thirty five in charleston south carolina as post office the postmaster and then they covered usually had a problem he watched his large sacks of strange may all streamed into his office columbia university historian richard john says it's too easy was witnessing the first direct mail campaign in us history abolitionists based in new york city american anti slavery society hit upon the scheme flooding south korea's newspapers are advocating the immediate abolition
of slavery the abolitionists came to put the moral argument against slavery right under white southerners notices that when slave holder scott when the campaign they were outraged and they also feared was the first step to fomenting a slave rebellion which brings us to the charleston postmaster scripted he says to himself oh my gosh if i commit these tracks to be distributed this might threaten everything in the mail that is to say this might encourage a mob to assail the mail on route to the charleston office or on route to other offices so it's got the season is sort of a poisoned busy market back suspicious and threw them in the corner of the post office may be thought a deal with a problem the next day or maybe he knew those bags wouldn't be there for long on wednesday july twenty nine eighteen thirty five some point between ten and
eleven in the evening a small group of men and a fight is the lynch men broke into the post office and charleston south carolina by forcing open a window with a crowbar but lynch mob stormed the bags of abolitionist tracks the following night the lynch men burned these tracks along with effigies of three of the leading abolitionists of the spectacular bonfire watch by loud enthusiastic crowd of two thousand jews around one seventh of the entire white population of the city the month our salty z's problems that he created one for the federal government the postmaster general commanding in a scandal knew the government couldn't sensor newspapers streaming in from the north but many local governments in the south have laws criminalizing abolitionists messages so with president andrew jacksons backing the postmaster general circulated a letter saying that local law in the south trumped the national law the nation's first
mass mailing soon turned into the first mass censorship of the us mail this made it easy for the southern state governments to enforce a sort of a berlin wall hahaha on the states to prevent information from entering their territory that would be threatening the censorship stood for twenty five years until the civil war oh that was a blow for abolitionists the act of censorship itself represented a long term when you see any early eighteenth thirties slavery wasn't and national political issue but after this event in charleston growing numbers of northerners were outraged by the effort to silence abolitionist forces and then once it became commonly believed that the federal government was threatening civil liberties in its attempts to protect the interests of southern slave holders too many thousands millions of americans who had no
particular interest of the slavery issue one way of the offer the abolitionist issue could much more easily be really envisioned as a because the defense of fundamental american values american so long cherished their constitutional right to free speech but the nation has repeatedly bumped up against the limits of that speak every year the american library association struck by sports report from local schools they call it banned books week so this year we're marking the occasion by picking episodes of censorship in us history we've got stories of journalist jail for mocking president censorship of the nineteenth century sex columnist and hollywood studios self censoring to boost their bottom line but first we're going to turn back to the fight over censorship in the mid eighteen thirties after being shut out of the postal service the american anti slavery society
brought the issue of slavery to a new venue the united states congress the group tried to keep the issue of slavery in the public eye by flooding congress with thousands of anti slavery petitions then sympathetic congressman would read the petitions on the floor of the house southern lawmakers were incensed and at thirty six they began passing a series of resolutions table in the petitions known as the gag rule the resolutions in effect outlawing talk of slavery on the house floor but a small group of ages slavery congressman refused to be silenced they read the petitions anyway the leader of this group was none other than john quincy adams the former president diplomat and senator had been nicknamed old man eloquent and he was gearing up for his final campaign adams read eerily stood on the house floor to read anti slavery petition is one count from abolitionists in the stands painted a raucous picture scores of southerners on their feet howling screaming calling points
were calling for the speaker to put him down saying how could lead how are we supposed to stanley's insult someone please put him down this is the yale university historian join freeman she describes the scene of john quincy adams as battle against censorship and her forthcoming book the field of blood congressional violence in antebellum america and a bunch of us others went and stood around athens georgia trying to make him that way and that adams supposedly looked up and said oh so this issue pinch on the impeachment so how was resentful atoms form but the fellow watching this road in his letter i'd never seen anything like that before so this sounds like a pretty dangerous situation adams is stirring up just about every congressman's packing heat at this time was not true to have well i mean certainly eric garcetti your analytic phrases for packing
the other so adams does not get beaten up if i recall but doesn't mean that other people are immune well the atoms as kind of literally and figuratively bulletproof because of who he is and but obviously other people didn't have those advantages are people were intimidated and actually physically attacked and the most extreme example of that is joshua giddings of ohio who also really aggressively and consistently like adams made anti slavery fighting his his cause and not surprisingly during his congressional career at least seven times he was assaulted so let's talk a little bit about our questions for aside from constantly presented these petitions what were some of the moves he made in how to keep this thing going sustained campaign in a number of ways and yet partly was just being persistent inconsistent but it was also partly how he did it joined with his amazing skill
with parliamentary maneuvering for example there'd be a roll call vote and in the middle of the roll call vote when it got to him he would suddenly bring up an anti slavery petition that you knew this was not a thing to do and was deliberately aggressively kind of simple really violating this guy had to make a point about slavery and also to force the public to see the ways in which he and other northerners were being kept this is the most violent kind of censorship you can talk it sounds to me oh just faintly on american goal we have something in the bill of rights about free speech hundreds took advantage of that argument right one of the things he did was he said that they involved right off the right to petition he was really aggressively making that point particularly haiti northerners who might not really have strong feelings about slavery yet you probably didn't have really strong feelings about the fact that your fundamental right
in that first amendment has been violated so in some ways it seems to me to us others began to figure out that this wasn't really working effectively they have overplayed their hand and maybe hurt their cause the long run right absolutely a day essentially and you can see this even in some of the foremost promoters of the rule is that they literally an antique some cases announced that they're backing down because it was very apparent that the attack on the role was doing everything that they didn't want it was during a northern opposition it was putting anti slavery into the conversation again and again and again and northerners of both parties realize that this is now an issue whether it's an anti slavery issue where first amendment rights issue they now feel far more able to stand and say that they don't want like a rule on both counts the rules dangle twenty one gets overturned peace and won't return to the halls of
congress will tell us what's the aftermath of this attempt at the extreme censorship all right so at the extreme censorship goes away but the virus doesn't you know they still are able to either get people with paul supporter but shut them up effectively with parliamentary maneuvering or by threatening people intimidating them threatened them with dual challenges and there's one instance in which a guy calls in and order in a southerner doesn't like it and it comes out of this poor fellow and said you do that again and then cut your throat from your ear and really nice so he could do it you know is a lot of communities and every second of every day every kind of the thought is that you get stabbed in the gut but this year what the violence was a consistent continuing threat and and that didn't stop with the gavel will thanks so much for joining us today to enjoy and freeman a professor of history at allen author of the forthcoming book the field of blood
it's been a year gag rule applied to the nations rhetorical body notice when india giving saw it i really don't get that and especially today i think of congress we see him on cspan its broadcast nationally hadn't actually keep this stuff quiet back in the nineteenth century o'brien's the suppression of those protections was no secret in the north because there was full reporting on the gag rule itself all over the north of the northern press so there was a lot of focus on that single medium the newspaper and through that medium of the northern public are interested or not was forced to take into consideration what was happening in kabul in your brine what's interesting is the way that the white south presented itself from letting a contagion spread within itself in these very years that than congress is wrestling with a gag rule virginia the largest
slave state is debating whether they should begin the official mensa patient of slavery that turns rebellion a general decline in the economy of virginia the largest slave state led many people to wonder is this really the future and there's a close vote and incentives that votes over people said oh my god what are we doing or saying all these vikings better being published all over the state all over the country some enslaved people could actually read this never again will the future of slavery be publicly debated disgust in the south and that is the case so you but the remarkable thing to me is hell for thirty years after this the white south manages to suppress within its own borders any discussion about any future of slavery other than its perpetuation and it takes the form of everything from tarring and feathering to actually shooting and killing people to driving people out of the south and so the gag
rule fails in congress but it certainly succeeds across the south as a whole ford remember that southerners in congress were bullies for a reason it's not just that they were pathological personalities they saw that they're all well life was at risk and that required both a strong defense against the outside and strong policing on the inside and that's a combination that ends up being a fateful for the future of the union dan le earlier we heard from richard john a historian at columbia university and author of spreading the news american postal system from frank morris of here so that story aired an episode on the history of the post office is chris christie i backstory listeners we have an episode we are working on that
you can help a shape with the presidential debates on the horizon i bet you've been thinking about some great debate moments in american history like lloyd bentsen's nineteen eighty eight with the ring put down a dan quayle won the vice presidential debate senator i served with jack kennedy i knew jack kennedy jack kennedy would have run the mines but senator you're no jack kennedy dismissed concerns that his advanced age compared to his rival walter mondale that was in nineteen eighty four i will not make age an issue of this campaign i am not going to exploit for political purposes my opponent's youth and inexperience full of infamous kathy's i mean guess i would i would do away with the education theme see
this right here we'd love for you to send us your favorite debate presidential history you can record a voice memo on your smart phone and sent to a back story at virginia tech media will leave a comment on backstory radio catalogue will be kept looking forward to hearing it before the break we heard about the decades long attempts to censor anti slavery messages but that wasn't a country store struggle over free speech seventy nine in on a journalist named james thomson calendar published a pamphlet called the prospect before us
has chosen for it was the us president john adams destroyed athens as having hands reeking with the blood of a poor friend with connecticut sailor this is historian richard bernstein and he's a liar whose office is a scene of profligacy and see usury and his purpose is to embroiled the country in a war with france john adams and his federalist party had recently passed the alien and sedition acts which among other things made it illegal to criticize the federal government bernstein says elder wasn't exactly the most high minded champion of the first amendment and counter is the kind of guy who publishers whatever he can find that this girl was and nasty and defamatory as he can because it sells papers elder was thrown in prison a move that would out really fearless today but bernstein says there was a context for adams is heavy handed response we are so used to the constitution and the presidency and all the other institutions as being centuries
old and sanctified in their legitimacy and all that on the stuff that we forget how fragile the government was a seventy nine days most people basically thought that the government was little more than the character and reputation of those holding office under it and see if you damage the character and reputation save the president or congress they knew damaging the constitutional system itself and you could if you go too far during the whole thing again and how effective was still funnels campaign against the republican pressed printers were invited tried convicted sentenced jailed in fact even those preachers who were not invited and so forth starts worried what's going to come over the hill next week is a vocal injury going to invite me for violinist i should i better be careful so as is a chilling effect of that is that in the phrase i was thinking of this as a way of keeping people from speaking their
minds so we have this law on the books great in a federal crime and has tremendous chilling effect and potentially jeopardizing the future of the free press in america but it does have a sell by date it's going to expire after world was a little bit about the history of the submissions were this edition it has to write features one he is if you look at the list of government officials that you can't criticize is one key player who's missing the federalists was the president the congress and the government but they omit the second ranking man in the government the vice president who happens to be a republican named thomas jolly our soul federalists confined jefferson with impunity nothing can happen to them under this edition the other feature of it is the federalists build an expiration date and physician the expiration date happened to coincide with the end of john adams's term as president
the federal song bull times gets reelected will reenact the sedition for years if not that or have a if not adam says opponents will not have to use against us and that's pretty much what happens there's so what by michael unfinished business are loose ends illnesses sedition act expires there are still preachers who were indicted tried convicted jailed and fined and some of those guys are still in jail so president jefferson sets out to pardon and remit their fines and that's supposed to tie up the whole business of the solution let's get back to james dobson calendar what happened to help counter was fined heavily i don't remember how much that was what the problem was it took a while for that government to remit the financing that make counter angry encounter also felt that he had suffered quite a bit of it for the cause of thomas jefferson and he wanted a goodie in return he was the postmaster ship of richmond and jefferson didn't want to
do it and wouldn't do it at which point counter says i'm going to attack everybody i can and he does and that would include thomas jefferson were very particular new us auto assault also it goes back it in specific particular she notes that the men who the people's a white owner is keeping company clean it up a little bit and african american culture by my name's sally so in other words calendar is the first guy in the press to expose the alleged relationship although i don't believe it's alleged between thomas jefferson and sally hemmings and this of course is scandal and then james thompson counter trends up ground in local streams well richard i know you're on the side of free speech is you speak freely all time writer i know you think back on this period it sounds as if you mentioned political calendar pork elder you're sympathetic that he is
so for all his records and you've probably all warts who's the hero of your story or are you willing to be identified with that no james counter was a racist one of the reasons he published to sell an extra rico was hit horror of interracial sex and he was also a difficult or impossible cantankerous vicious brutal human being and is not really great to have him as a symbol of free speech except sometimes that's what you get ray but the first amendment is a dead letter if there's no united states will emerge if the government falls apart so there are limits even do your absolute as well i don't know about that because i don't think that any abuse of free speech or free press that we have seen in our history is any reason to believe that it would have brought the government down richard bernstein lectures at the city college of new york and is a biographer of thomas jefferson and john
adams do is what's on our website backstory radio right right we just heard about one of the government's earlier efforts to muzzle political opinion but later in the nineteenth century lawmakers one after another type of speech and eighteen seventy three congress passed legislation outlawing quote obscene lewd or lascivious materials in the mail it became known as the comstock law named after the moral reformer who lauded for the act the us post office appointed the st anthony comstock to enforce the law that meant that comstock and his agents could legally open anyone's mail in search of obscene material today comstock is synonymous with heavy handed censorship who were comstock critique is actually the dictionary but less well known are the names of those he tried to silence backstory producer nina earnest has the
story of one of calm stocks were colorful opponents in the nineties not every named ida craddock embarked on a new career as a couple's counselor dr ruth how you can improve your sex life but also a marriage therapist trying to figure out what's gone wrong in these relationships and why they're some of estrangement in any given marriage this is the least met a historian at washington university in st louis he says that craddock was a unique position as there weren't a lot of self styled sex therapist and buttoned up the gilded age america but could herself was unmarried and her late thirties so when she started talking publicly about sex and sex reform some wondered how a cheese woman we know anything about this topic and she says well the reason i have this knowledge is i think it speaks of this as a wife it's just that she's a wife a spirit in other words he believes you had a husband
like many americans of her era was swept up in the spiritualist religious movement believe that she had we connected with an old love who had died and then she was now having intimate relations with the spirit schmidt says that crowd knew the public would think he was crazy how far the reader may value my testimony as being the result of my personal experience course their side according to this bias for or against the possibility of communication with artist friends beyond the grave i can truthfully say that i came from it amounts of sex relations many years of reading and discussions with other people never brought me armed with a celestial sexual expertise craddock wrote six pamphlets full advice for married couples these pamphlets supplemented her meager income customers or request a copy and she would sell them for about fifty cents a piece but she had to mail them and that's how she ran up against anthony comstock and his
censorship regime he basically worked under the ages of the post office and seized anything that he found to be offensive this trailer may a journalism professor at northwestern university he says that it didn't take much to a man the comstock the moral reformer some obscenity everywhere not just in very big shoes button words survived and even medical textbooks anytime he learned about someone engage in some activity whether was an art gallery or of physician offering contraceptive services or whether it was a book dealer he would basically make a solicitation for services or products in a moment they were provided to him he would arrest of a biscuit intrepid constant claimed that he and his network of informants confiscated a hundred and sixty tons of allegedly obscene material and prosecuted over thirty five hundred people the century guided caddick was one of them post office agents appalled by her pamphlets explicit references to
sexuality that all cases against in philadelphia chicago and washington dc oh i have to do to prove that something is obscene literature seems to point to a single passage in attacks and show that passage could soon cite lascivious thoughts someone prosecutors agreed her marital advice out loud in a courtroom in one pamphlet called the wedding night she wrote that it was a wife's duty to perform pelvic movements women have been so tied to be passionate nights have been so tight that they try not unique feeling so she's trying to get people to vote the week that record you pretty much guaranteed you're going to be seen as a while it seemed but comstock by claiming that she had the protection of the first amendment you know the one that says congress shall make no law abridging the freedom of speech of the props there
was just one problem for the most part were he did nobody thought of them as rayson any kind of first amendment issue that's craig may again he says the supreme court didn't stop the president from modern understanding of freedoms speech until later in the twentieth century so for chronic another's the most famous amendment was unready defense against comstock and his agents that have any legal precedent to a lot of them into one any first amendment cases to fall back on so they might have argued in some abstract way for right to speak freely but durham they were simply would not afford only darkness that way and they didn't craddock never won a case but she did manage to avoid jail time at least until nineteen oh two that year she relocated to new york city and despite knowing the risks she continued to send out her pamphlets it said that when she really saw ourselves as standing for religious freedom freedom of press freedom of expression and somewheres i think she's courting this climactic showdown with comstock
this time comstock arrested her in person she first artist a trial which she lost and spent three months in a workout the prison was overcrowded filled with german and had no running water it's after she gets out of jail for that that three month sentence and as she's awaiting a federal trial that she's very fearful at this point that because she's been tried so many times and is such a repeat offender that shes getting at the max and sims says she's got into her head which is really a five year sentence she was forty five and based on our three months in the workouts she lost a federal trial did nothing to do but wait for sentencing on october seventeen nineteen oh two that day she was found dead in her apartment i think that again sealed the room window that with gas and slid her arrest the major former left to nose behind in one for her mother and one to the public
i would stand my ground perhaps the american people maybe there is and she was exceptional but critic anthony comstock and that trample upon the liberties of the people of invading in my own case both my right to freedom of religion and freedom of the press stages that wow her suicide becomes this cause a love among free speech activist and vague pound comstock for four as they see it driving this innocent pure minded woman to her death it's a setback for me becomes one of the cases that really has a hard time living down and she was by no means the only one he used to boast about people who commit suicide when he prosecute people a
committed suicide he thought his work was done he took credit and i believe are least fifteen different suicides her death didn't bring comstock down he was on a crusade to protect american youth some obscenity a major concern for the public so he kept his position until he died in nineteen fifteen comstock is most people love you must have a blot on american history of free expression ok i buy that but at the same time for most of his career he had the support of the press to the sport of powerful people and be a public opinion on his side are in the twentieth century the supreme court and maintains it too late earnest is one that producer is there are there certain let's turn to the president now bestselling novelist poet and filmmaker sherman alexis in two thousand seven lexie wrote a novel
for young adults the absolutely true diary of a part time indian the story is based on a lexus childhood on the spokane reservation in eastern washington told in the voice of a fourteen year old boy the novel doesn't shy away from painful subjects bullying poverty violence and alcoholism his candor won alexi a huge fan base among teens it also won him a national book award but in two thousand fourteen absolutely true diary one the more dubious honor of being the book most frequently banned or challenged in america i asked alexi where he thought his novel fate in the long list of banned books throughout american history i mean you are talking about tequila mockingbird or you know naked lunch or on the road pardon me one thing that i don't really fit into that because perhaps the vaccine new category of baghdad didn't exist so much before i were big board they do about having the whole country from the wool
riders the new batting incredibly can get their amateur says straight so to better work being pretty autobiographical i'm curious to know what the light to have a book bad for something you know i point at the beginning and hurt my feelings a bit you know the book about being bullied so when people banned the book i give him a bully and actually try to challenge it although i enjoy it because of that mean that every kid in that community and that people are now going to want to read the book sales you know i've been a national bestseller for a year it melts what would come down to is a lot of kids have been reading the book who feel trapped by their community feel trapped by the
expectations placed the bomb them an african american kid the kid you know little farm town while mining town got letters from kids going to really really exclusive private school for all feel trapped by their family and their community yeah you mentioned writers have you gotten lettuce thousands of letter you know that in the letter a kid will confess the very difficult things happening to them ended up in very difficult to read the letter and they end up being so confessional but the book matter to them so much the kid feel like it's the first time they've everything themselves than a blog recognize them fell from a balkan and that powerful connection to freeze them to write what is your question about history do you think they live your work was set on end indian reservation in nineteen fifteen it wouldn't have gotten so much pushback i mean everybody loves you know nineteenth
century indian words were fattened defeated in the nineteenth century and in another twenty prevent remains were alive and thriving and ready to challenge you on your boss you know writing a book about native americans in an open top of empire terrible history and and i think very apparent third so much afraid of the carpeted anyone book they are that that book my third of the springboard to a much larger education by any particular kid well fortunately school has high science or access for the baby until being pulled by an already bigger than pumping of wrong and really defied the fact that with all the other information available all the time when a authority figure telling of the bigger right and wrong that a developing your moral that the danger part about temperature sherman is censorship getting better is it getting worse or it's just a constant and i was well you know you we think about school than any library tower that all that stuff really
on a pure number of babies there aren't that many you know for a lot of forests i arrive in washington state the government of the curtain made what we're doing with fighting against the fence richard bedford and batting averages are putting out of fire we're putting a lightning strike because otherwise they think can grow and a larger movement and accomplish gration of oppression foe equally there's a fairly danger from around five that particular community but they're putting together then it becomes something truly scary and sherman lacks he's the author of the absolutely true diary of a part time indian it was the most frequently banned challenge vocal us into thousand fourteen counties a backstory with
assembling the history of american manufacturing for an upcoming show would do something a little different the focus on just five objects in order to tell that story objects that reflect the twists in terms of america's economic history and how they affect us the most likely to re examine a lot of the twentieth century synthetics revolution found its way into every aspect of american life in the nineteen forties this is where you come in you love for you to tell us what that object best tells the story of american manufacturing is a cotton gin to my coach or maybe a civil union cause record a voice memo in your smart phone and send the backstory of virginia that you will leave a comment on backstory we're battling will reach out to you we've already heard a lot about the
government's role in censoring public from jailing journalists was seventy nine used to pride and the males under later returned now to one industries attempt to censor itself in the nineteen twenties and early thirties hollywood producers when exactly shy about using sex to sell tickets thomas doherty a professor of american studies at brandeis university says a classic example of silver screen scandal is the nineteen thirty two jean harlow film red headed woman in which he slits or where the top is not punished for all right now i need the down low and at the end of the film you see are in paris with this shooter dead in the backseat of a rolls royce she's gunning gone and as the camera pulls back from them you see her week and the mayor at the chauffeur who smiles that any might not raise eyebrows today the movies featuring sex and violence chait many callers in the american catholic church church leaders formed the
national legion of decency in nineteen thirty three and commanded of their flock boycott theaters hollywood producers recognize the threat to their bottom line so that work with two catholic leaders to create a production code to guide their films the code wasn't just a list of words you can say like the sec is listed prevents us from saying over the airwaves instead it was a five thousand word guideline for how to produce moral stories its principles of plot demanded that no potter themed should definitely side with evil against good this meant instead of the main character in john steinbeck's of mice and men getting away with murder he faces the arm of the law hollywood production code went into effect in nineteen thirty four thomas doherty says the job of implementing it fell to one man an iron hammer and a guy who does this really visceral one most
important people in the history of american censorship is a guy named joseph i bring he's the guy on the scene in hollywood the head of the production code administration any guy to get through joe brain or your film does not get a production code c o and that means it does not get distributed in the sixteen thousand dealers in america well pretty pretty important guy so what did he look like and how do the role it was you're basically tourre an irishman i came from philadelphia a very stern guys are very strict catholic but nobody's fool every screenwriter in hollywood knew that you know it had to put like five lines in your script hoping you could negotiate get one of them by but the lines would have to be elusive that have to serve not be explicitly sexual and maybe the best known example is from the film casablanca which to me as sort of the most romantic a loose a blind of classical <unk> you go no specific place right now i just think about why he's clearly not talking about that time he had with ingrid
bergman at the eiffel tower watching a great view well i'm just assume laying dead you know fewer director producer in hollywood you take this guy i know because everybody in hollywood new and joe bring was far preferable to a hundred local sensors from atlanta nashville philadelphia you name it censorship boards and states across america those guys were really whacked with children you can have lunch you could sit down you had one guy to deal with injuries reasonable and you had the production code is it like a constitution we can argue about its meaning so there are precedents for something you could come to your brain so we've passed it you know two years ago in the school where he went to nashville had notorious answer named robel at benford just of a vile racist and he would clip out or not allowed to be shown in asheville any film that had no african americans and whites you know having a nice relationship even children so things are a little rascals movies now he would allow to be shown because they showed no interracial harmony
so if the choices between believed he'd been offered and joe bring it is kind of odd as a good job breen inoculate films against either been thirds of the world in other words did local sensors get a second bite at the apple they could but when brain comes on these local or state censorship board start losing a lot of their power because if you look at the box office from say thirty three to thirty four there's a slide in the early thirties during the pre code era and then in nineteen thirty four the slide reverses itself and thirty four you start saying this uptick and box office and so the mobile say we put the code and thirty four people seem to be responding at the box office window the production code was working at tom you study film for a living is that your explanation of why audiences increase i think there was something to it and part of this is just because of the
tone of the great depression where in an age of real political and economic chaos and uncertainty people seem to crave and popular art the sense of security and the sense of mortality and did this or the modern notion is we have a free expression of them people in the nineteen twenties and thirties by and large didn't feel the way they accepted the kind of social control from their church from their state from their family that i think most americans in town thought oh that's that's actually that phrase because one of the things that made the local exhibitors so desirous of a production code is you know like the sheriff's wife that corner you in the lobby and say how can you show such a moral films and if they can make a lot of money with say shirley temple rather than a west and nobody's calling them a smart merchant nine they're not like shirley temple everyday you know primo tired from a production code administration in nineteen fifty four
and believe it or not i've been to a film or two since then had two very different than the film's you're describing and what happened what happened as america changed that america no longer demanding from his popular culture the moral order and i think the other thing that happened and this has to do with the war is that we know under seeded those kind of decisions too public authorities whether they're from the state or from the church that americans decide oh well not like a silent movie hour ago to myself and to me the film that survey shows this more than any other motion picture and as a film from nineteen sixty and an eerie your listeners are old enough to happen to have seen it in the theater i would wager they remember where they were and what they saw this moment because of service such a primal movie memory for that generation in the film of course is alfred hitchcock's psycho few even though there is no medical still in effect it's
it sort of cycled mean can store it is a professor of american studies at brandeis university and nina keck joe and the show today with a view of press censorship during war and many military conflicts censorship was routine and often transparent during world war ii to the government even opened an office of censorship to regulate news reports about a fast forward fifty years when the pentagon shifted tactics in the fall of nineteen ninety joe galloway was gearing up to cover the first gulf war for us news and world report he was about to leave for saudi arabia when he received the pentagon's new set of rules for wartime journalist the rules ran thirty six pages double
sided small type and as if those rules were followed you couldn't cover anything our report anything galloway was shocked he'd been a reporter during the vietnam war when the military's guidelines ran just one page vietnam and in fact was the most openly and freely covered war in the history of our country the pentagon trust to reporters would not reveal any information that might compromise national security there were no military censors movement was never lamented for me i went wherever i wanted to go and generally was welcomed at the other end by those soldiers that i was clever dame helen communications professor at uc san diego says this press freedom at them it ended the vietnam war and there's different versions of this idea about the us lost the war in vietnam because it lost its will to
win and that was the responsibility of the media that was due to media coverage of them that's a view that gallantly insist the price add that much influence i wish that i could have written a story so powerful that it would have driven us out of that war in which case there would only be eleven hundred names on that black granite wall in washington dc and still at fifty eight thousand two hundred and ninety what really turned public opinion in vietnam with a song television and they only evening news what it was was an absolutely endless flow of bright shiny aluminum body containers and flying home to every little town in america but allen says the myth became conventional wisdom with in the pentagon where the us military started planning for the next
wars they took the attitude that media coverage inevitably means the decline of public support for a war and therefore you have to restrict the media as much as possible and so during the first gulf war the pentagon relied on press pools small groups of journalists who were granted permission to cover the same event and the us military deciding where to send those journalists and for the most part the pools were not stand to where the fighting was actually going on so most journalists have the experience of that you know they miss that war essentially that they were back in the hotel in not where actual fighting was going on as result reporters down themselves center ahead of time there were the journalists can't get there to report the story to begin with and they don't even need to sensitive because i dont have anything in a substantial to report there was another problem with a pool system even journalist who
got good access to combat zones still lived in the shadow of vietnam judge pianka reporter for the wall street journal during the gulf war recalls reports with access to a military helicopter during battle they witnessed the army's fighting maneuvered that would ultimately decide the war and they got back to an airfield where they found one phone there's one of soldiers going home to say hi mom i'm ok and the officer in charge of mining reporters decided to put them in the back of the line first telling them how much he hated reporters there was a lot of sort of gratuitous hatred spewing out of the war that happened twenty years previously in the end a lot of the copy a lot of the videotape lot of pictures that delayed to the point where nobody ever saw it dr kim says the news business is like the no business that has to be fresh editors would likely dumped reported three dale battles
the news of the war is the first draft of history of the first draft has big holes in it that were his his censored or whatever then you have tampered with your own history and when the pentagon went back to review these first drafts of the history military officials notice something missing namely the war you know i went to conferences after the war where they put the generals on one side of the table in and us on the other and it one of the generals started complaining am and i said where were your cool dry much he said oh i have a lock them up in the rear headquarters and didn't bring them forward and i said now you're complaining you have no foam of your great successes on the battlefields whose fault is it the time to learn from a mistake the pentagon sought a
new strategy for were sort of follow the solution was he ended system which attached reporters to military units inside combat zones it gave more journalists more access than press polls and beheading journalists and military units also kept them safe in increasingly dangerous war zones most news organizations have depended on the system since the us invaded iraq in two thousand and three still hal and fifty and that system is simply another form of censorship rather than a return to the open coverage of vietnam's most news organizations and we're aware that the policy of embedding wasn't good at giving them access but would give them a limited view of what was actually going on because you know maybe accompany me us troops and they've been reporting things essentially from the point of view of us troops and those limits matter in a democracy the archives says the press needs to be able to report on wars freely and
openly as possible public pays billions of dollars for these episodes and they should understand how they work and how they don't work and it really is in the military's interests to get the truth out there because they're representing a country that puts a great deal of it in the first amendment john failed to help us tell that story he was a reporter for the wall street journal and is the author of what's the warriors covering the gulf war we also heard from joe galloway who reported for united press international and us news and world report he's the coauthor with lieutenant general harold moore we were soldiers once and young and daniel how a professor at uc san diego and author of the uncensored war the media and vietnam as if that's going to do today delves into yourself let us know what you thought of the show
as head of a backstory radio dot org where there you can help shape our upcoming show up who's an american history this ability to share a story or ask a question you can also send email feedback story of virginia it you find this on facebook tumblr and twitter at backstory with whatever you do don't be a stranger this episode of backstory was produced by andrew parsons project mccarthy the hermits kelly jones and again it improves quality to bomb builders are technical director we have help from listeners monday special thanks this week to katy olson service call and christian was going to record will stand for gillies office which we begin with cases that
that's right brian balogh is a professor of history at the university of virginia and dorothy cochrane professor at the miller center of public affairs here on earth is professor of history emeritus at uva and senior research fellow am on a cello and ayres is professor of the humanities and president emeritus of the university of richmond's back story was created by andrew window for the virginia foundation for the humanities is distributed by pr x the public radio exchange
Banned: A History of Censorship
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September 27 marks the beginning of Banned Books Week, an annual event celebrating literature and the freedom to read, by highlighting and exploring efforts around the country to remove or restrict access to certain books. Indeed, Americans have sought to censor all kinds of things: music, radio, TV, and film have also run up against assumed limits on what is acceptable to say or portray. In this episode, Peter, Ed, and Brian offer an uncut account of censorship in American politics, media, and culture - from rules designed to prevent the discussion of controversial subjects ranging from slavery to sex via the mail, to Hollywood's production code and censorship today. Recalling materials and individuals that have been suppressed or once incurred a censor's wrath, we explore how the line between free speech and censorship has changed over time.
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Chicago: “BackStory; Banned: A History of Censorship,” 2015-00-00, BackStory, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed September 28, 2023,
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