a challenge, simultaneously issued, by the National Council on Freedom from Censorship, a unit of the American Civil Liberties Union, which after a special meeting yesterday called upon the decency campaign leaders to clarify their attitude towards State and Federal censorship of the movies.
Dr. Goldstein, who is chairman of the committee on social ethics of the New York Board of Jewish Ministers and who also heads the social justice commission of the Central Conference of American Rabbis, launches a frank attack on the Motion Picture Producers and Distributors of America, Inc., of which Will H. Hays is president.
“In 1930 this organization adopted a code of guidance known as ‘Production Code and Uniform Interpretations’,” Dr. Goldstein’s statement declares in part. “This code is based upon the general principle that ‘no picture shall be produced which will lower the moral standards of those who see it,’ and contains an admirable list of regulations designed to outlaw pictures that are vulgar, obscene, profane and that violate the sanctity of marriage and the home.
“Since the creation of the Hays organization and the adoption of the code, many excellent pictures have been produced that are filled with joy and beauty and that evoke only the highest emotions of the audience. These pictures are all listed in the reports of the Hays organization.
“But the reports fail to mention the other list of pictures that have aroused this protest that is now become nationwide. That the Hays organization has failed to protect the communities of America and has forfeited the confidence of Catholics, Protestants and Jews alike, is proved not only by the long list of evil pictures they have approved, but by this moral crusade that is too widespread, too serious and too determined to doubt.”
While Dr. Goldstein was issuing his statement, the National Council on Freedom from Censorship was deciding to take a stand in opposition “to any form of official censorship, whether of news-stage, books or magazines.”
“The Council’s opposition,” its statement declares, “is based on its conviction that censorship is a menace to our Constitutional guarantee of free speech and press; that it is a dangerous weapon for the suppression of minorities; that it is a futile expedient, since at best it merely hides, but does not eradicate, the supposed evil; that if it once becomes entrenched with respect to one form of expression, it rapidly extends to other forms; and that although in many instances it purports to be concerned only with matters of decency, actually it is a potent means of suppressing opinion.”
Without having been apprised papers, radio, motion pictures, the of the above statement, Dr. Goldstein makes the following comment on the subject of censorship:
“There are only three ways in which the problem (of purging the moving picture of indecency) can be solved: by self-regulation, censorship or supervision by a joint committee. Self-regulation through the Hays organization has manifestly failed. Censorship is a dangerous instrument to employ and should be discouraged. The one way left is a joint committee, composed of representatives of the industry, the public and the clergy.”
“FOUNDATIONS FOR REGULATION”
Despite this reassurance, the Council on Freedom from Censorship fears that “in the absence of any constructive contribution by these self-appointed organizations they are inevitably laying the foundations for a form of censorship either governmental or religious…. To the first class of censorship we are militantly opposed and we believe that any form of religious censorship would be subversive of the religious liberty clauses in our basic law, which guarantees the separation of church and state.”
Commenting on the part the Jewish groups are expected to play in the campaign against cinema indecency, Dr. Goldstein states:
“During the High Holy Days, which occurs this year in September, and which brings together the largest number of Jews in their synagogues, the rabbis of America will be urged not only to preach upon this problem, but to enlist their congregations in the protest against pictures that are a menace to the moral life of every group and every community. A program will also be developed to win the cooperation of Jewish organizations outside of and independent of the synagogue itself.”