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March 25. 1922
E X H I B IT ( ) R S H E R A L 1 )
Something to Read
Each week the HERALD publishes numerous articles pertaining to censorship, blue laws and other reform menaces. Every exhibitor should keep a file of these stories for use when the occasion demands.
PUBLIC RIGHTS LEAGUE
Screen Message No. 47
People who oppose the Sunday opening of theatres should remember that Sunday is the one day in the week which many men can devote to amusement — and the motion picture theatre is the one place he and his entire family may find good, clean entertainment at moderate prices.
Public and Not Legis Must Decide Censor
Question Is Too Important to
Rest Upon Decision of State
Law-makers, Says Fairbanks
Censorship is a question that should be decided by a direct vote of the people and not by legislators, in the opinion of. Douglas Fairhanks. The star expresses his views as follows:
"I have never played the part of a traffic cop yet. But just for a moment I want to assume that role. I want to stand in the middle of the street called Public Opinion and check for an instant the. traffic jam between impatient reformers and those who are trying hard to preserve the freedom of the screen.
"I have no quarrel with the many estimable people who are working so earnestly for censorship. Most of them are sincere. They believe that censorship is a needed reform. And I am with them at least in one respect: We both want a clean and wholesome screen. But there is an honest difference of opinion as to the method of maintaining it.
"Is it fair for either side to seek legislative decision upon so vital a question as censorship? Is it fair to ask the legislature of any state to pass upon and determine an issue involving the fundamental rights of the entire people of a state? Legislative action of this character is just as important to the citzens of a commonwealth as would be an amendment to their constitution — yet no such amendment to the constitution of a state can be accomplished, except by a referendum in which the voters themselves register their judgment by individual ballot.
"Never, in the entire history of the censorship controversy has this been done. In Massachusetts, shortly, this will be done. At the general election in November next, the good people of Massachusetts will determine by ballot whether or not screen censorship shall be adopted. I have no doubt of the outcome.
"Fair play is all we ask. Let the people themselves decide this great question — not through their legislative servants but by their own ballots at the polls."
This department is in accord with Mr. Fairhanks' views that the public, voting on this great question, will give more sane consideration to it than will legislators who are harassed persistently by paid reformers. The legislator is led to believe that the stability of his political position rests with the reformer, whereas, the public knows that to maintain its freedom it must fight the bigots at the polls and at every other opportunity presented.
Discussing censorship and blue laws recently in St. Louis, Rex Beach, well known author, said:
"If I wanted to attack some evil in our life, it would be the overproduction of laws which is turning America into a lawless country. I should like to combat this narrow and reactionary moral wave which is driving respectable men and women into the corral without laws — where they don't belong. And I refer particularly to the methods used in enforcing prohibition and to the various censorships with which we are oppressed.
"H. G. Wells said that the most surprising thing in this country was the meekness with which Americans had surrendered the rights of free speech, press and assemblage. It is a fact. We have submitted to a mass of perfect idiotic legislation. After awhile the tide will turn and then will come all sorts of unwarranted license.
"Who in the devil has the right to censor any work of art, I should like to know ! You won't find one artist impertinent enough to mutilate another artist's work, and who else is capable of doing any censoring? The Author's League was asked to furnish a board of moving picture censors. Not a member would accept the job."
lators Transcribes Poem on Slide Issue To Counteract Press Gossip
Announcement of W. P. Cuff s Activity Is Made in Local Newspaper at Chillicothe, Missour i
The PUBLIC RIGHTS LEAGUE was launched to encourage the use of the screen in combating reform; to suggest means for maintaining the freedom of the motion picture, and to offer to exhibitors a department through which they might exchange ideas on the all important subjects of censorship and blue laws.
Since its inception, this department has detailed the work of many exhibitors who have devoted their screens and efforts to this work. Correspondence published is evidence that theatre nun are aware of the menace and are engaged in fighting it. A worthy contributor to this cause is W .P. Cuff of the Strand-Empire theatres, Chillicothe, Mo., who writes:
"Am enclosing copy of a local daily which contains a rhyme of mine that explains its purpose. Being one of the first PUBLIC RIGHTS LEAGUERS, I am sending this to voti as you were the originators of the LEAGUE. I used this as a PUBLIC RIGHTS slide. It may not do any good, but I ejected a lot of spleen out of my system that just would not ooze out naturally."
Mr. Cuff's poem, published under a threeline caption with an introductory paragraph, follows :
The air seems strangely calm today — No message through the ethereal way. All space is silent; still.
Xo sound comes wafting from the skies — No signal, for ears, for eyes. We wonderingly ask, the learned, wise. Is this strange nature's will!
The answer comes, removes our fears; Our hopes revive; our reason clears; No longer brain awhirl.
A flood of sewage — not nature's laws. Explains tins atmospheric pauses — Spilled from reformers' slimy jaws, To ruin an innocent Movie Girl.
The poem, as the newspaper story tells, was written and displayed on the screen at the Grand as an "answer to the adverse criticism which has been heaped upon these movie girls (Mabel Normand and Mary Miles Minter) during the discussion of the Taylor Murder case.
XI r. Cuff says in his letter that this propaganda "may not do any good." That is a mistaken idea. When seriousness is injected into this work, and everyone knovs that Mr. Cuff is serious, it cannot fail to impress the public.