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Systems of censorship possess a peculiar fallibility, an inconsistency which often glitters in the public press. By the very nature of their task, the suppression of obscenity, boards of censors are confronted with a psychological difficulty which is well-nigh insurmountable. An acute mind can trace delicate touches of sensuality, deep into literature.
Because of differing perceptions, censors are ever incurring either the enmity of reformers or the vindictiveness of liberals. Particularly in criticism of the stage, whose shadier products receive a wide advertising in diversity in interpreting the niceties of naughtiness apt to appear. The latest disturbance comes from "The Bunk of 1926" which a citizens' play jury has banned from the New York stage. Judging from the published accounts, it would seem that the jurors had decided somewhat hastily and without complete realization of the effect of their action.
Although one can scarcely doubt that the bad taste of the title is carried through the whole revue. "The Bunk" appears to merit some fate better than suppression. Its off-stage prototype is at vorst punished with a tolerens yawa. The citizens' jury which has the unofficial backing of the District Attorney and the support of the Actors' Equity Association might better have directed that the performance be denuded of suggestiveness. The present decree, as admitted by some of the censors themselves, smacks of that arbitrary bureaucracy which it is essential to avoid.
The private system of censorship, in spite of occasional lapses such as the present, has worked well. Since it draws support from the actors themselves, the board of suppression has at least an understanding of the problems of playwrights. For this reason, the play jury is infinitely more desirable than a miscellaneous panel of up-right but ill-informed moralists.
Now that the second thought of several jurors has recommended a policy of moderation, the citizen censorship will no doubt operate with an increased sense of proportion. "The frauds of the future may be permitted a tolerant existence because "The Bunk of 1926" has become a Freudian martyr.
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