Orwell described how this censorship of language could affect the concept of sex for a person living in this future society: "His sexual life, for example, was entirely regulated by the two Newspeak words sexcrime (sexual immorality) and goodsex (chastity). Sexcrime covered all sexual misdeeds whatever. It covered fornication, adultery, homosexuality, and other perversions, and, in addition, normal intercourse practiced for its own sake. There was no need to enumerate them separately, since they were all equally culpable, and, in principle, all punishable by death. In the C vocabulary, which consisted of scientific and technical words, it might be necessary to give specialized names to certain sexual aberrations, but the ordinary citizen had no need of them. He knew what was meant by goodsex—that is to say, normal intercourse between man and wife, for the sole purpose of begetting children, and without physical pleasure on the part of the woman; all else was "sexcrime."
Orwell's 1984 is a work of fiction—a tale of horror that prophetically envisions the end results of totalitarianism. It seems far removed from present-day America, but it is actually closer in some respects than most of us may realize. Consider how limited are the socially acceptable words for sex. In addition to medical and technical terms, there are literally dozens of common English words to describe the sexual parts of the human body and every form of sexual activity, but all of them are considered objectionable or obscene. It is virtually impossible to describe a pleasurable sexual experience in personal conversation without having to resort to unromantic medical terms or, alternatively, to words with such obscene connotations that they permeate the telling with a prurience that may not have been present in the act itself.
And don't we have the equivalent of Newspeak's goodsex and sexcrime in the U.S. today? Isn't "normal" intercourse within marriage the only sexual activity society considers acceptable and right; isn't any other sexual activity between a man and wife, as well as all sex between those not married, considered immoral and wrong? Many states have actually made any other sexual activity, between those married or unmarried, illegal. And when the state legislators wrote the laws concerning sexual activity other than "normal" intercourse, one might almost assume they were limited in their language to some colorful version of Newspeak, so incapable were they of bringing themselves to specifically name or describe the activity they wished to ban. Consider this statute from the Criminal Code of the State of Rhode Island, Chapter 10, Section 11-10-1: "Abominable and detestable crime against nature.—Every person who shall be convicted of the abominable and detestable crime against nature, either with mankind or with any beast, shall be imprisoned not exceeding twenty (20) years nor less than seven (7) years."
A number of the states have similar statutes prohibiting any "crime against nature," but the term is almost never defined, and those states that have attempted a definition do not always agree with one another. A few look for a reasonable definition within the phrase itself, a "crime against nature, with mankind or animal" might seem to refer, in the first instance, to going out with a neighbor and cutting down a Christmas tree in the state park or, in the second, shooting deer out of season, but we have reason to believe that isn't what the lawmakers had in mind. The colorful nature of the adjectives "abominable and detestable" leads us to suspect that what they were referring to probably has something to do with sex, since only sex comes in for such vague and emotion-tinged language in our laws. Whether Arizona's "infamous" crime against nature is the same as Rhode Island's "abominable and detestable" crime, we're not sure, but in any case, it would probably be wise to do your Christmas-tree chopping somewhere else.
Abominable, detestable, or just plain infamous, a "crime against nature" is usually a catchall to include any sexual activity other than intercourse of which the legislators, the courts and the law enforcement officers do not approve. And what is often not recognized, even by many of those practicing law, is that none of these statutes make any distinction between the married and unmarried.
We have commented before that our archaic religious teachings have pitted man's body and spirit against one another, whereas common sense would suggest that God intended the body, mind and spirit of man to be in harmony.
But the world of words reveals most clearly how, even without Newspeak, we have been taught that the spiritual, religious, Godly side of man is in opposition to sex, the body and material accomplishments and pleasures. Consider these definitions in the Second Edition of Webster's New International Dictionary:
Spiritual is defined as pertaining to, or consisting of, the spirit; not material; of, or pertaining to, the moral feelings or states of the soul; pure, holy, divine; of or pertaining to sacred things of the church, or religious affairs; the opposite of spiritual is, according to Webster's, carnal.
Carnal is defined as fleshly, bodily, sensual, sexual, animal,
flesh-devouring, bloodthirsty, unregenerate, worldly, material,
temporal, secular; the antonym of carnal is listed as spiritual.
The opposite of intelligent is stupid; the mind of man is seen only in qualitative opposition to itself. How curious then that the opposite of spiritual should be carnal; with the spirit and body of man opposing one another.
The definitions of these words are in our dictionaries, because centuries of common usage have put them there. What strange sort of religion have we evolved that places the Godly part of man in opposition to the whole of his physical being? In simple theological truth, are not heaven and hell opposites, rather than heaven and earth? Is it not the devil who is opposed to God, rather than man's mortal flesh? The devil can exist as easily in the mind of man as in his body; and there are times when he takes control of the spiritual side of man, as well. How else can the religious among us explain the Inquisition and the countless horrors perpetrated by organized religion down through history?
But built into our very language are these man-made conflicts which torture and torment us and destroy the natural God-intended unity of mind, body and spirit. The whole man is not confronted with a choice among the three—or between any two of them. Perhaps in this lies the wellspring of his humanity.
3. The censor impairs our mental health and well-being. By suppressing the frankly sexual speech and writing that embarrasses and disturbs him, the censor unwittingly eliminates an emotional outlet that, most authorities agree, is healthful for society.
What is more, the censor so little understands the nature of the thing he is about that he usually attacks first the more positive aspects of our sexual literature and art. The book, magazine or movie that equates sex with sin and suffering is less apt to bring down the censor's wrath than one that makes sex seem pleasurable or appealing, for the former can be said to have a "moral." That the seeming "moral" is in actuality an abnormal and quite unhealthy association between sexual activity and ugliness, grief and guilt seems to matter not a bit to the censor. He is thus quite successful in projecting his own negative attitudes toward sex onto the rest of society.
The sexual content of the stories and articles in the family and women's magazines over the past 30 years has invariably been of this negative variety, as was pointed out with such hilarious effectiveness in the now near-classic Playboy article, "The Pious Pornographers," by Ivor Williams (October 1957).
And we are all familiar with the "Stella Dallas" syndrome with which Hollywood suffered throughout most of the Thirties and Forties, when Will Hays' Production Code required all cinematic sexual intemperance to end in disaster: If the heroine allowed herself a night of sexual dalliance with the hero in the first reel, the moviegoing public knew that not only would the next scene be a teary-eyed discovery that she was pregnant (or better still, a cut directly to a scene in the maternity ward), but the rest of the picture would be one long series of heartbreaks and suffering, in which the hero conveniently became unavailable (death in the war or betrothal to another were usually preferred), the heroine was forced to give up the child ("It's for the baby's own good—you've got to think of him [her] now....") and the heroine became destitute, an alcoholic, threw herself under a train or died of pneumonia (from walking in the rain without any coat, hat or galoshes)—or a clever combination of all four.
It is not difficult to understand why the censor attacks sex that is depicted as happy and healthy and leaves sex that is sick, suffering and sin-ridden pretty much to itself. Why the censor is more apt to attack heterosexual sex than homosexual or other deviate sex might require a deeper probing of the censorial psyche, however. Perhaps it is simply that the average censor is too naive about the subject he has chosen as his specialty to recognize the often more subtle projections of sexual perversion in the public print.
Whatever the reasons, the censor goes his merry way blithely banning magazines that contain photographs of female nudes, while overlooking a number of the "health and strength," "body-building" and "muscle" magazines that are tailored to the tastes of the homosexual. The censor expunges a movie's scenes of sexual love-play between a boy and a girl, but passes by the scenes of violence with sadomasochistic overtones. For many years before Robert Harrison made his bundle with Confidential, through the public exposure of the private lives of celebrities, he published a series of so-called "girlie" magazines that conscientiously catered to fetishists (offering sexual stimulation to the pervert with photography of models thoughtfully posed in unusually high heels, boots, lace undergarments, long hair, rubber rainwear), sadists and masochists (with spanking, whips and scenes of torture and gore), transvestites, lesbians and male homosexuals (with pictures of women dressed as men and vice versa) and other deviates—all with relative impunity, because his female models were never without their bras and panties. If they had been nude, you see, they might have appealed to normal heterosexual instincts in man—and that's what the prudes and censors are apparently against. And if the models happened to be attractive in both face and figure, fresh, healthy and well-scrubbed in appearance, and appealingly posed and photographed—then the citizenry should become really outraged, because such a picture not only appeals to the heterosexual side of man, it gives the sexual response a clean and wholesome quality that suggest sex may indeed be a thing of beauty and joy.
The censor fails to comprehend that sexual responsiveness can be conditioned to a variety of stimuli in human society just as Pavlov conditioned his dogs to salivate at the sound of a bell. If we remove the primary heterosexual sources of stimulation from society, or through practiced propagandizing make an individual feel guilty about his natural responsiveness to such stimulation, then he will affix his responses to something else—other men, perhaps, or perhaps a shoe or a bit of lace underwear. This is the kind of sickness that the unknowing censor can bring to society. This is what the Drs. Kronhausen meant when they wrote, "All clinical evidence indicates that guilt-based sexual inhibitions, restrictions and repressions result in perversions of the sexual impulse, general intellectual dulling, sadomasochistic inclinations, unreasonable (paranoid) suspiciousness, and a long list of neurotic and psychotic defense reactions with unmistakable sexual content or overtones."
Playboy and Pornography
It should be clear to even the casual or occasional reader of Playboy that our arguments for a more liberal, censor-free society are not, in any sense, a defense of this magazine of prompted by any commercial self-interest. To the contrary, a freer, less taboo-ridden, less hypocritical society would probably have less interest in (and less need for) the rebel part of Playboy's personality. (Though we do like to think that our overall editorial excellence would retain for us the majority of our present readers.)
Our own more serious censorship concerns are now many years behind us and an easing of the censor's tight control would only bring to wider distribution and sale a host of bolder imitators of this publication that have long been a bane to our existence and a source of not a little embarrassment (for they make more difficult, the explanations—to those who do not read us and know us only by reputation—of what Playboy is really all about and what sets it apart amongst present-day magazines in America).
Nor would Playboy change very much in such a censor-free society. The magazine has never attempted to push to the outer boundaries of what was censorable or what could be considered objectionable by the more sophisticated part of our society. We have always chosen to set our own standards of taste and propriety, and to communicate with that number of other urban fellows whose view of life is similar to our own.
Our interest in a society free of the shackles of censorship is as a citizen who believes he will be happier living in an America in which all men are allowed to exercise full freedom of speech, of press, of religion and of association. It is the kind of America we believe in. It is the America our founding fathers meant us to have. We believe we should have it.