Record #596

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Reel 7
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Crime - Babson

Roger W. Babson has made widely-published statements accusing the movies of being responsible for the rise in the crime rate. He has based his arguments on statistics compiled by Fred L. Hoffman, who (in consultation with the MPPDA) has vigorously repudiated them. Here Wilkinson tries to persuade Hays that the whole affair deserves more publicity.


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CRIME - BABSON. 1929 MEMO FROM WILKINSON TO HAYS RE BABSON, 16 May 1929. I should like to review briefly the considerations which led all of us who have been working on the Babson matter to the belief that it would be useful for us to bring the subject out in the open through the medium of Hoffman's repudiation of Babson: 1. This is not a case of us arguing with Babson. It is a case of a scientist throwing up his hands in horror and saying to the public, "Please do not count me in on what this scatterbrain has done." 2. The Babson letter has had a good deal of direct newspaper comment. It has undoubtedly had a good deal of other word of mouth publicity. We cannot reach the people who have heard of it except by some species of broadcast. 3. Babson might not have made the slip he did if it were notoriously unhealthy to attack motion pictures. This is a vital point. The effect would be very wholesome if, from some quarter or another, every man who raised his voice unthoughtedly [sic] against motion pictures should get a public slap. Hoffman's repudiation of Babson's loose talk in the matter "hurts Babson and it might be a lesson to other folks. 4. The final Hoffman statement is smoother and better than the one read at staff. The word industry has been removed in many places and the reference to self censorship has been replaced by "production care within the industry. "I hesitate to take your time with these points after having received what I take to be a policy indication through Mr. McKenzie, but in this instance we had put so much of what the country preacher called, "meditation, prayer and sweat" into the subject that I felt you would excuse an exception to the usual rule. The gadflying of Babson of course does not take the place of any of the affirmative work that should be done. I am going up to Columbia University tonight to work with Dr. Holmes and De Bra on the Holmes speech, and the minute that is agreed upon in final form I shall begin the combining of it with the basic facts from C.E.M.'s letter, the whole designed to be a monograph signed by Holmes. [Note: Both Babson's letter of 8 April 1929 and Hoffman's lengthy reply of 7 May 1929 (both in pamphlet form), are included in the file.]

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