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Debaters Contest Views Of Censors Proponent

By Lewis M. Steel

The censorship views of Godfrey P. Schmidt, a lawyer who has represented Cardinal Spellman, were sharply challenged last night in a Law School Forum at New Lecture Hall.

While Schmidt maintained that "mankind will never outgrow" the need for minimal censorship, Patrick W. Malin, Executive Director of the American Civil Liberties Union, claimed, "Bad may come of free speech, but we get so much else for it that it is worth a high price."

Morris L. Ernst, author and lawyer who defended James Joyce's "Ulysses" against the charge of obscenity and won, stated his argument more forcefully. "Men have always been frightened with ideas.... Their latest target is obscenity.... I don't happen to frighten easily," he said.

Ernst claimed, however, that it is not for the lawyers to decide what is censorable, but for the social scientists who can correlate pictures and words to behavioral patterns. He said that their studies to date show no reason for censorship.

In defense of his position, Schmidt said that unanimity about the means to improve society is impossible, and therefore authority is the only way to reach agreement. He used "Baby Doll," a picture banned by Cardinal Spellman, as an example of how this authority functions in a free society.

"It is quite possible I would disagree with Cardinal Spellman," he said. "Yet he lays down his authority, given to him by free will, to those in his ecclesiastical jurisdiction."

Ernst replied that he did not believe in the common standards of decency. He said that even among Roman Catholics there is no common ground, the Irish with a Puritan background and the Latins thinking in entirely different ways. He also claimed that it is abnormal for Catholic nuns and priests to judge obscenity for people who are not celibate as they are, therefore having a different attitude toward sex.

In carrying his argument to an absolute conclusion, Ernst said that he considers all motion picture codes illegal and has been waiting for years to fight them in court but producers are afraid to take code decisions to court.

All three men agreed, however, that the trend toward centralization of press, radio, television, and motion pictures in the hands of a few men was a form of censorship which could only lead to total-itarianism.

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