Keating's statements remind us of the observations made by Dr. Benjamin Karpmen, Chief Psychotherapist of St. Elizabeth's Hospital in Washington, D.C., on the neurosis know as pornophilia—the obssessive and excessive interest in pornographic materials:
"This interest in obscenity—pornophelia—may take another direction. It may be covered up by a reaction formation. The interest may be denied by bitter opposition to all forms of obscenity, the same as a condemnation and attack against homosexuals can cover up latent homosexuality. Crusading against obscenity has an unconscious interest in it; that is, it may cover up latent homosexuality. Crusading against obscenity has an unconscious interest at its base. The interest is negatively displaced in consciousness."
Not every censor is neurotically obsessed with sex—some good people become involved in censorship campaigns because of religious or moral convictions and a lack of understanding of what censorship really involves, and some public officials become outspoken advocates of censorship because they believe it will be to their political advantage. But Keating's rantings are almost classic as he projects his own sick view of sex and obscenity onto the rest of society.
The Californian continued: "It would appear that because this mind reveals such deep fanaticism, a throwback to Cotton Mather and the reign of the Puritans in America, that there would be widespread community opposition to him and groups like the CDL. Instead, headline-seeking newspapers play up Keating's distorted presentations without adequate quotations revealing his fanaticism, and thus he is able to gain tremendous support and little opposition. It worked precisely that way in San Francisco and Los Angeles.
"Perhaps there would be opposition if information were made available to show that Keating and CDL, like other such groups, are only fronts for the NODL, even among Catholics themselves. But with groups like CDL posing as nonsectarian organizations, religious fanaticism is too often left out of the picture and communities receive the impression that the crusade is civic, rather than religious. Even when Keating admits publicly, as he did in San Francisco, that his is a 'religious crusade,' the newspapers—hence the community—ignore it. Yet, Keating, CDL and other such groups are Catholics working [in conjunction with] NODL and using NODL's banned-books list.... They are all part of the same organization—the NODL, which was established in 1938 by the Catholic Bishops of the United States as a watchdog committee for the Roman Catholic Church. In some communities, its branches are admittedly Catholic, and in others they operate on an inter-religious basis. They all use the banned-books list of NODL, however—a list which is drawn up...in conformance with Catholic religious beliefs and Catholic moral codes. The purpose of this list and of the NODL, according to a statement of the Bishop's Episcopal Committee, is 'to organize and set in motion the moral forces of an entire country...against the lascivious type of literature which threatens moral, social and national life'...to evaluate [this] literature...the NODL uses a reading committee of mothers of the Roman Catholic faith in the Chicago area....
"Despite the obvious fanaticism of those who would draw up such a list, the NODL has been amazingly successful in putting its banned-books list into effect on a vast scale. Local NODL-organized groups have been able to boycott newsstand dealers and bookstores into carrying only titles not banned on the list. In some communities they have things so well-organized that no dealer will carry anything on the list and has even agreed to do this without examining the books or the list in advance. In many cases, police, prosecuting attorneys and military commanders on Army posts have issued instructions or orders that no books or magazines on the NODL list will be sold without their jurisdiction.
"An example of how the NODL works may be taken from the town of Springfield, Vermont. There, a civic leader named Mrs. Henry Ferguson, president of Springfield Catholic Women, organized an 'Inter-Denominational Church Group' to rid local newsstands and bookstores of vulgar comic books. Since she was able to convince other civic leaders that the group would be composed of 12 church denominations, there was widespread support for her campaign. Everyone was in favor of getting vulgar comic books out of the hands of children. The newsstand dealers offered little opposition. With this backing, then, Mrs. Ferguson's group began policing newsstands, asking the dealers to remove objectionable comic books; and the dealers complied.
"Soon the dealers discovered, however, that Mrs. Ferguson's group was not going to stop with comic books. Women from the group began asking the dealers to remove certain paperback books which they said were getting into the hands of children. Again the cry, 'Protect our children,' was the magic wand in Springfield. Community backing was won and the dealers were forced to begin removing the more lurid paperback books. Again there was no objection, because this kind of book did not sell well in Springfield anyway. But then came the finale.
"Having experienced no opposition up to this point, Mrs. Ferguson introduced to her 'Inter-Denominational Church Group' a list of banned books and magazines published by the NODL in Chicago. She supplied all of her members with the list and asked them to call on the merchants, check their shelves by the list, and ask them to remove any books and magazines on it. At this, the merchants balked. Some of their best-selling paperback books were on the list: James Jones' From Here to Eternity, Hemingway's The Sun Also Rises, Caldwell's God's Little Acre. Some of their best-selling magazines—Playboy, for example—were on the list. So the merchants balked.
"But by this time, Mrs. Ferguson had community sentiment behind her. She was able to get a town ordinance enacted against 'obscene' literature. This ordinance was the last wedge she had been waiting for. Now, she was able to threaten the merchants with prosecution. Therefore, they begin to yield to Mrs. Ferguson and her group, first removing the books which might possibly subject them to prosecution under the town ordinance. Finally, when all these were gone and the merchants were down to nothing but books and magazines which could not be prosecuted under any ordinance or law enacted anywhere in the United States, a showdown came. Some of the more stouthearted merchants refused to yield any further.
"Mrs. Ferguson met this opposition with the final tactic: boycott. She and her women spread the word through the community that any merchant not cooperating with her group should be boycotted by the community. Friends should be advised not to deal with that merchant. Faced with this loss of business, the merchants yielded to the last indignity. They permitted Mrs. Ferguson and her women to design a plaque stating that a given store had been inspected by the Springfield Church Group and was found not to have any objectionable literature in it, and to hang this plaque in a prominent place in all stores in Springfield selling literature.
"Today, in the town of Springfield, you will find one of these plaques displayed by every newsstand and bookstore. You will not find Steinbeck's Grapes of Wrath, or Caldwell's God's Little Acre, or Playboy magazine. They are all banned from Springfield—banned according to a list published by one segment of the Catholic Church."
The CDL in Chicago
In Chicago, home of the NODL, the CDL functions in the guise of an interdenominational organization. The Chicago Citizens for Decent Literature is headed by a Catholic priest, Father Lawler, and its book-burning activities over the past year have been, if anything, even more flagrant and oppressive than those of the CDL in California. And that is easily understood, for here in Chicago Catholic censors have a sympathetic administration to implement their publishing purges.
The Catholic CDL censorship campaign enjoys the cooperation of the Catholic-dominated Corporation Counsel's office, which is responsible to a Catholic mayor, abetted by a predominantly Catholic police force, with cases usually tried before Catholic judges. Under such circumstances, it is a tremendous tribute to Chicago officialdom that democratic justice triumphs as often as it does—evidence that a significant number of this community's Catholic administrators, legislators, judges and police officers truly understand the importance of keeping separate their governmental and religious obligations.
On several occasions over the past few months, however, incidents involving freedom of administrative action (IPAC's birth-control program), freedom of speech (Lenny Bruce), and the freedom of press (Playboy), have suggested that sometime the appropriate concerns of church and state become confused in the City of Chicago.
The CDL seems to have been particularly successful in overriding whatever scruples Chicago officials have against permitting religious influences to interfere with the lawful rights of men in a free society. With the aid of Chicago's Corporation Counsel, they have ridden roughshod over book and magazine dealers throughout the city. But, thank heaven, the Constitutional freedom of expression is reasserted when these cases are brought to court. As a result, the Citizens for Decent Literature has had the frustrating experience of achieving a great many arrests and very few convictions—even in the lower courts. So much so that, immediately prior to the Playboy arrest, the CDL struck out viciously at it own staunchest ally, the Chicago Corporation Counsel office, vilifying one of its top prosecutors for not being more successful in obtaining convictions.
The story in the June 1 issue of the weekly Negro newspaper, The New Crusader, offers significant background on the Chicago CDL just one week before the Playboy arrest on June 4:
"The powerful wrath of a vicious book-burning organization, masquerading under the title of Citizens League for Decent Literature, was felt last week when the ax fell on Leonard Kaplan, attorney for the Fifth Ward Regular Democratic Organization. Kaplan, a ten-year veteran prosecutor in the city's Corporation Counsel office, announced his retirement and decision to enter private practice when the Citizen's League began bombarding key city officials with letters critical of his handling of prosecutions in certain obscenity cases.
"The League, largely composed of Victorian housewives, sends out teams of women to investigate newsstands, counters and bookstores to ferret out reading matter it deems in poor taste for Chicagoans. Led by a Catholic priest, Father Lawler, the group is meeting with growing resistance to its censorship efforts. Two judges of the Municipal Court, who declined to be named, pointed to the attack on Kaplan as a key factor in the group's loss of support.
"Attorney Kaplan, who had prosecuted several of the obscenity cases successfully, had the recent misfortune of losing a jury trial involving one of the League's cases. Although he enjoys a splendid reputation as a lawyer, and although impartial court observers attested to his good showing, the League's members began writing poison-pen letters to Mayor Daley and Corporation Counsel John Melaniphy in which Kaplan was accused of 'selling out' and not putting forth his best efforts.
"When the well-liked lawyer was shown the letters, he expressed great shock, inasmuch as the League had been hailing him as their hero up till then.
"He observed that when a group elects to deny one the right of citizens, they care little about denying anyone's right. One example cited concerned a cigar store owned by an aged widow. Finding a paperback book on their banned list, they secured the arrest of the old lady and shortly thereafter prevailed upon the City Clerk's office to revoke her cigarette license. Happily, Mayor Daley heard of the vicious incident and restored the license.
"Father Lawler, a one-man terror, is a veteran of campaigns to adjust folks' morals to suit his own. Other Catholic priests disagree with his tactics, but dare not publicly oppose him. One of Lawler's recent blitzes brought tears to the eyes of many of the area's young ladies, when he inspected the dresses of all the girls attending proms of Catholic high schools and colleges. If the gown was not to the priest's liking, the guest was ejected. He advocated high collars and long, Victorian-style formals.
"The campaign to purify dresses also included a drive to require coed's daily attire to be four inches below their knees. After resistance to Lawler's drive grew, he switched to his present literature cleanup."
Whether CDL's accusation to the Mayor, the Corporation Counsel, and others, just prior to the Playboy arrest, charging that a member of the Corporation Counsel's legal staff was guilty of "selling out" and not putting forth his best effort in a previous obscenity case, was responsible for the move against us as a concession to Lawler, we do not know. We do know, however, that Lawler and his Citizens for Decent Literature had been attempting to get Melaniphy to take action against Playboy for many months, personally bringing each new issue to his attention with a request for prosecution.
This substantiates—finally and conclusively—that it was not the Jayne Mansfield pictorial feature in the June issue that initiated the attempt at censorship, but the continuing editorial content of the magazine. It makes clear that the question here involved is not simply the right to publish "all the nudes that's fit to print," as one punster once claimed of Playboy, but the right to express personal editorial opinion, as we have been doing over the past dozen months in The Playboy Philosophy, even though some of the ideas put forth may not receive popular acceptance in all quarters of our society.