Causing a local tornado of protest, the latest issue of Life, eldest of the picture magazines, is making local history with its childbirth feature. Official comment in Boston and Cambridge was as bitter and varied as that nine years ago when Dreiser's book, "An American Tragedy," was banned in Suffolk County.
Speaking for the Boston School Committee, which supported the action of Police Commissioner Joseph F. Timilty in having a summons issued to a Boston newsdealer who defied the police warning, Chairman Henry J. Smith said last night: "We complimented Chief Timilty because we believed that the issue arouses morbid curiosity in children." Asked what he thought of the idea that the publication of childbirth information might make immoral girls think twice, Smith replied: "Well, there might be something to that."
Joseph Lee, Jr., only member of the School Committee opposed to backing Timility, thought it a shame to suppress "anything that might allow people to think and to keep their minds off such froth and foolishness as you find on every newstand." He added that the city officials behind the censorship of printed matter are "conservative and too apt to make a flight from life."
"The 'Thou shalt not' attitude only makes things worse," he said, "and encourages the reading of pornographic matter. Feeding kids straight stuff gives them something to think about. It's good of Smith to want to censor the lewd and lascivious. but that isn't what happens. A constructive story on motherhood is banned, while sadistic and sex magazines are still allowed to lie on the stands."
Following up the Boston reception of Life's issue with a Cambridge summons, Thomas M. McNamara, acting Mayor of Cambridge and President of the Cambridge City Council, commented last night on its issuance: "Some of the women in the town started calling me up. I agreed with them that I didn't think it should fall into the hands of kids. It seemed to me to be a circulation stunt hiding under the cloak of education."
No one had anything to say about the fact that Judge John Duff of the Municipal Court, in drawing up the Boston summons, declared that Life's pictures were not indecent, obscene, nor impure, but might corrupt the morals of youth