The Brown University Psychologists Report, commenting on a series of statements linking delinquent behavior to obscenity, called attention to a series of similar scientific studies and statements disputing any correlation between obscene material and the antisocial activity of children, including a recent comprehensive report on 90 cases of delinquency by Mitchell in the Australian Journal of Psychology. The study reported such complex conditions as personal tension, defective discipline, insecurity, lack of home guidance and emotional instability as the prime contributors to delinquency and the Drs. Kronhausen point out that "all of these factors refer to deep-seated emotional problems and disturbances in interpersonal relations, in comparison to which the reading of [sexual materials] or even 'hard-core obscenity' appears a rather trifling surface concern."
Another report, based on research in the United States, presented at roundtable conferences headed by Dr. Benjamin Karpman at two annual meetings of the American Orthopsychiatric Association, concluded that there are three major causes of delinquency: (1) organic brain damage; (2) faulty relations in the family unit; and (3) social dislocation. Once again there was no mention of the viewing or reading of salacious or obscene materials and Dr. Karpman has expressed the belief that, contrary to popular misconception, contact with obscenity tends to curb antisocial behavior rather than foster it, by offering an outlet for abnormal sexual interests.
Dr. Wendell Sherman of the University of Chicago has stated: "I have never seen one instance of a child whose behavior disturbance originated in the reading of books, nor even a case of a delinquent whose behavior was exaggerated by such reading. A child may ascribe his behavior to a book he has read or a movie he has seen. But such explanations cannot be considered scientific evidence of causation."
Edwin J. Lucas, director of the Society for the Prevention of Crime, has stated: "I am unaware of the existence of any scientifically established causal relationship between the reading of books and delinquency. It is my feeling that efforts to link the two are an extension of the archaic impulse by which, through the ages, witchcraft, evil spirits and other superstitious beliefs have in turn been blamed for antisocial behavior."
Dr. Robert Lindner, noted psychoanalyst and author (The Fifty-Minute Hour, Rebel Without a Cause), specialist in the treatment of juvenile offenders, has said: "I am utterly opposed to censorship of the written word, regardless of the source of such censorship or the type of material it is directed against. As a psychoanalyst who has had more than a decade of experience with the emotionally disturbed, and especially with delinquents, I am convinced of the absurdity of the idea that any form of reading matter...can either provoke delinquent or criminal behavior or instruct toward such ends.... I am convinced that were all so-called objectionable books and like material to disappear from the face of the earth tomorrow this would in no way affect the statistics of crime, delinquency, amoral and antisocial behavior, or personal illness and distress. The same frustrating and denying society would still exist, and both children and adults would express themselves mutinously against it. These problems will be solved only when we have the courage to face the fundamental social issues and personal perplexities that cause such behavior."
Drs. Eberhard and Phyllis Kronhausen have written, on the subject of "Psychological Effects of Erotic Literature": "It is our view that instead of the comics, 'lewd' magazines or even hard-core pornography causing sex murders, or other criminal acts, it is far more likely that these 'unholy' instruments may be more often than not a safety valve for the sexual deviate and potential sex offender. This is not only our own view, but that of many other experienced clinicians, especially among those who have worked with more severely disturbed patients and delinquents."
In The Playboy Panel on "Sex and Censorship in Literature and the Arts" (Playboy, July 1961), we commented that one of the evils of pornography, according to James Jackson Kilpatrick, in his book The Smut Peddlers, is that "when a youth accepts the idea of sex without love he is stained inside."
To which Judge Thurman Arnold replied: "Sounds like gobbledygook to me. I don't know what he's talking about." Film producer Otto Preminger said, "It is an old-fashioned point of view, in my opinion. We know very well that sex without love exists—only hypocritical people can say that nobody has sex without love or that nobody should have sex without love." Author-publisher Ralph Ginzburg observed, "Is Mr. Kilpatrick trying to suppress sex without love? Is that what he is trying to do indirectly by getting at pornography? Well, I think he's got a great big job ahead of him, even after he gets rid of all the pornography."
Maurice Girodias, editor-publisher of Olympia Press, of Paris, said, "Protecting children against moral corruption has always been the last-resort argument of the champion of censorship. It is the weakest and the most idiotic justification invoked to suppress books written for adult readers. Mr. Kilpatrick's remark is too elliptical not to be misleading. Sex is the primary agent of love between males and females. Should we hide the fact from young people? Should we teach them that sex is corrupting in some cases, and not in others? Then I leave to Mr. Kilpatrick the task of explaining to our young friends what is sex and what is love, when sex is just sex and when sex is sex with love. Such guidance will probably make the whole continent frigid, but that shouldn't bother Mr. Kilpatrick.
"Seriously, if we want to restore mental sanity to our world, we must first of all save the young from the lies and hypocrisy inherited from the generations of Puritans. Modern man must find his path in a world which has become infinitely dangerous and dense. Our society will only survive if it starts producing individuals endowed with full freedom of judgment; we do not need an elite of specialized thinkers, but positive and personal thinking at every level. Those children that Mr. Kilpatrick is so concerned about are not corrupted by bad books. I don't think they are interested in books, or pornography, which is a game for adults. If they feel they were born in a dry, cold and hopeless world, this can not be corrected by more censorship."
The Sexual Nature of Man
Those who favor censorship are often motivated by what they believe to be the best principles. We have government agencies to ban harmful foods and medicines—why not do the same thing with "harmful" art and literature, they reason. What they fail to recognize is that a bad food or drug is a matter of indisputable fact, but a "bad" book or movie is a matter of taste and opinion, and nothing more. And in our free society, we are fundamentally opposed to the suppression of ideas with which we do not agree, or the forcing of our own ideas onto others. The fact that the bulk of scientific and enlightened opinion favors the dissemination of frankly sexual and erotic material for the mental health and well-being of our society is beside the point, for no one is forced to buy or read the book that does not please him, or attend the movie or watch the television program that offends his personal sensibilities. We are left the freedom of choice, as we should be in a free society, without the specter of censorship hanging over us.
Those who fear and oppose the erotic in our literature and art do so because of personal repressions and feelings of frustration, inadequacy or guilt regarding sex. They are unwilling to accept the basic sexual nature of man. Literature and art are a mirror in which man sees his own reflection. Only a man who carries the obscenity within him will see the obscenity in a book, a painting or a photograph. If you find the obscene in a work of art or literature, or in life itself, you have manufactured the idea of obscenity yourself. And you have no one to blame but yourself for having made it obscene. If it is true that "beauty is in the eye of the beholder," one must accept its logical corollary, that ugliness is, too.
What the antisexual amongst us do not recognize is that they themselves are the major perpetuators of pornography. Most deliberate pornography has little enough artistic merit to commend it. It persists in a society where prudishness and hypocrisy are the rule. Editor-Publisher Girodias was quoted in The New York Times Book Review as saying: "The publication of pornography is a defensible, even a socially useful undertaking." We asked him, in The Playboy Panel, to explain what he meant by this.
Girodias answered by reading something he had written in a letter published in the London Times Book Supplement a short time before: "What is known as pornography is a simple and elementary reaction against an age-old habit of mental suppression, of deliberately conditioned ignorance of 'the facts of life.' True, pornography is a very crude and excessive form of protest—but the very intensity of the protest proves that it is not gratuitous, and that there is a deep and general need for free expression which is still far from being gratified. In other words, contrary to current belief, pornography is simply a consequence of censorship. Suppress censorship and pornography will disappear."
The very attempt to ban a book will create an interest in it that the book may not deserve; the would-be censor may thus do more to promote the sale of salacious material than curb it. If the censor could be counted upon to only publicly damn worthwhile books, his existence might almost be justified for creating considerable public curiosity in good literature that would not otherwise be so widely read (no one can doubt that Vladimir Nabokov's delightful Lolita found her way into hundreds of thousands of additional American homes, because of the hue and cry created over her by the blue noses). But, unfortunately, the censor has never been particularly noted for his ability to discern between the erotic wheat and the salacious chaff—partly, we suspect, because the distinction is of no real importance to him. He may come up with a work of real literary merit one month and a piece of trash the next—and give them both the same publicity. No, the censor really can't be counted upon as a dependable guide to our reading habits. He would have us reading many of the right books, but for the wrong reasons; as well as many of the wrong books, for the right reasons.
The antisexual in our society so fail to understand the true sexual nature of man that they try to suppress what is insuppressible. In so doing, they hurt society in three distinct ways.
1. The censor curtails our freedom. As we have seen, censorship attempts to thwart our God-given and Constitutionally guaranteed rights to freely use our own minds and bodies, so long as we do not impair the similar rights of others: the right to speak and write our own ideas—whatever those ideas happen to be—and to accept (or reject) the ideas expressed by others, equally free; the right to worship our own God, in our own way—or no God at all, if it suits us; the right to associate with whomever we choose, whenever we choose—without fear or prejudice of others.
2. The censor attempts to control our thoughts. By limiting our speech and press, by disapproving certain words and ideas, the censor in fact tries to practice thought control.
In his book 1984, George Orwell demonstrated how it is possible to actually control thought through the censorship of words. In Orwell's society of the future, the political party in power is called Ingsoc (for English Socialism), with Big Brother as its leader ("Big Brother is watching you!"). The Ingsoc had created a new language, called Newspeak, to serve its political ends: Orwell had the following to say about Newspeak: "The purpose of Newspeak was not only to provide a medium of expression for the world-view and mental habits proper to the devotees of Ingsoc, but to make all other modes of thought impossible. It was intended that when Newspeak had been adopted once and for all and the Oldspeak forgotten, a heretical thought—that is, a thought diverging from the principles of Ingsoc—should be literally unthinkable, at least so far as thought is dependent on words.... To give a single example. The word free still existed in Newspeak, but it could only be used in such a statement as 'This dog is free from lice' or 'This field is free from weeds.' It could not be used in its old sense of 'politically free' or 'intellectually free,' since political and intellectual freedom no longer existed even as concepts, and were therefore of necessity nameless. Quite apart from the suppression of definitely heretical words, reduction of vocabulary was regarded as an end in itself, and no word that could be dispensed with was allowed to survive. Newspeak was designed not to extend but to diminish the range of thought, and this purpose was indirectly assisted by cutting the choice of words down to a minimum."