Record #510

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Mr Will H. Hays, President, MPPDA
W. Ward Marsh, Cleveland Plain Dealer
Reel 6
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Books and Plays

Reply to editorial suggesting Hays should operate an "iron hand," outlining need for self-regulation


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"Right in the beginning of your discussion of motion pictures you made a differentiation which is the core of the whole matter under discussion. The industry must consider, you said "not only the reformers but the vast majority of a clean public that resents any speech or pictured sequence which offends good taste." You and I are 100 percent agreed that it is not only good business but just ordinary decency to have a regard for the opinions of the second class you mention. If I were not concerned all the time about that problem, I had better be back practicing law ... If I were to attempt to set myself up as the sole personal dictator of what 120,000,000 persons should see in this country every week by way of entertainment -- and 130,000,000 abroad -- I do not see that would be much better than if we had politically administered censorship, which you as a public writer know would strangle any medium of expression. It has been my thought from the beginning that an arbitrarily administered censorship would be as bad within the industry as from without. Besides what it would do to art it could not have the wholehearted support of the men who were regimented inside its restrictions, and it would in the end break down because it would violate the basic principle on which all human affairs advance, the principle of enlightened desire to do the day's work on the side of the world's progress instead of retrogression. ... More and more, the makers of motion pictures are turning voluntarily to the mass of information on tastes, to the records of past criticism and praise, which are available in our office on the Coast."

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