What shocked the censors! (1933)

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James Wingate, then head of the Motion Picture Division of the Department of Education, opposed the bill in a letter to the legislative committee, stating: ef . . . We have felt that it served no useful purpose to make public or to publish such deletions and thereby either help or harm the picture. In my opinion, ivhen we have prevented the exhibition of the objectionable parts, our duty ceases. It seems to me inconsistent to require certain deletions from the pictures and at the same time require such deletions to be made public, which really means that they should be published by the trade and other papers. I further call your attention (sic) that the enactment of this bill, which I hope will not occur, would require additional help in this office to carry out its provisions. I am informed that the Board of Regents, by resolution, took action against Bill No. 502 [calling for complete abolition of the censor board Ed.] but have not yet had an opportunity to consider 1604; therefore, this letter is personal rather than official." The bill died in committee. An appeal was then made directly to the Board of Regents, under whose supervision the censors operate. In a series of letters to the Regents per- sonally and to Frank Pierrepont Graves, Commissioner of Education, the National Council contended that: "If the censors accurately reflect current stand- ards of morality and decency they have nothing to lose by a public inspection of their work. If they do not, then as public servants they should welcome correction". On May 19, Dr. Wingate wrote: "At the suggestion of the Administrative Committee of the Board of Regents, I am sending you herewith a copy of my last report to said Committee". Enclosed was a mimeographed report list- ing the pictures reviewed during the month of April, and, in practically the same form as herein presented, the deletions ordered during that thirty-day period. We have been in receipt of these reports monthly since that time. Whether this evidence of the censors' conscientious attitude toward their work is regarded by readers with approval or incredulous amusement is an interesting matter for speculation, but the important fact is that the public may now see what is actually being done to motion pictures and may act as it sees fit in the light of the facts. It is our intention, since we understand the number of official mimeographed reports is extremely limited, to fulfill this public service by reprinting the essential parts of these records from time to time and disposing of them at cost to those who may care to have them. The National Council is not a commercial organization, and this is not a commercial enterprise. Our purpose—well established by this time, we trust— is to stimulate an intelligent understanding of the whys and wherefores of censorship, and to achieve a more sensible way of meeting the issues that it so signally fails to touch. Hatcher Hughes. Chairman