It did seem strange that there was so little organized opposition to the attempt of the Jewish, Catholic and Protestant church groups to impose a censorship on moving pictures. Here and there the voice of some liberal was raised against this movement but little was heard except the ideas of those demanding a film cleanup; and apologies and promises from the producers that they would be better and cleaner boys.
This past week, however, things have taken a new turn. The Authors League quick to sense that if the churches were allowed to proceed unchecked they would soon turn their attention to books, came out with an official statement protesting against the idea that any censorship was needed. More important is the announcement that the Association for the Preservation of the Freedom of Screen and Stage has been formed. Its leader is a Jewish lawyer named I. Robert Broder who claims that he founded the association at the request of his friends. The initial meeting will be held Monday night at the New Yorker Hotel and all liberals, reformers, literati and show people are invited to attend. Dr. Charles Francis Potter, author and minister will be one of the speakers and many other leading personages in the city’s social and cultural life have been invited.
Mr. Broder’s contention is that only one side of the picture has been shown, that of the clergy, and that it is time that those who believe that the public is its own best censor, should also be heard.
This new organized blast by the churches against the screen and stage has found support in unexpected quarters. Why the newspapers have been almost unanimous in their support of the campaign is something that I cannot understand. In the first place the stage and screen have always been a source of advertising income and secondly, these advertisers have complied with the regulations on copy laid down by these papers.
Not satisfied with giving prominent space to the utterance of churchmen the papers have thrown their columns open to all sorts of cranks and publicity seekers, anxious to have their say against the amusements. Editorially, the dailies have fallen over one another in supporting censorship while at the same time they protest against any government regulation that in the slightest degree attempts to limit their own actions. Cens#rship allowed full away is an uncontrollable monster and if the papers insist on helping they will soon find that they will be forced to submit their news columns for approval to this same censor.
The hypocrisy of these papers is amusing. Willing to kick the theatrical producers with a heavyshod boot they scream in horror when it is suggested that patent medicine makers and other advertisers be made to tell some semblance of the truth in their advertising. It is permissible to advertise and sell worthless and harmful drugs; frighten people into believing they are unclean or unhealthy; convince mothers that their children should be dosed with poison or tell men that the only reason she won’t marry him is because, 1. He doesn’t shave; 2. Wears the wrong kind of garters; 3. Uses an inferior soap; 4. Has a bad breath, etc.. In other words a clean, pure stage is of burning import and when sweetness and light is the theme of all shows and pictures, most of mankind’s problems will have been solved!