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Thursday, 11 June 1970

It is important to establish for whom censorship is applied. Is it for people who demand it? Or is it for others on behalf of whom people demand it? Obviously people v/ho object to certain words, sights or behaviour can censor the offending acts by avoiding them. No one is forced to hear, or see or do anything they do not wish to do. However, many such people, responsible members of a community, approve of censorship for other people, especially for the young. It is equally important to establish what is to be censored. I think we should all recoil at the suggestion of censorship of facts - political censorship or censorship of knowledge has no place in democratic society at peace. Two broad matters of human experience are traditionally subject to censorship - sexual behaviour and violence. In earlier years the criterion was whether or not the depiction of scenes of such matters 'were likely to encourage depravity'. Although these words are still embodied in our laws, the criteria applied now are those of 'community standards'. In other words what level of sexual behaviour, bodily exposure or violence is the community prepared to tolerate in its books, films, or on its television screens?

I call for a balanced judgment to be made by the community in assessing what is or is not offensive to it. There does seem to be an obsession with sexual matters today. Let me explain that. If an explicit love-making scene is left in a movie, hundreds of letters are written by outraged parents to the Minister for Customs and Excise or to the Commonwealth Film Censorship Board. I do not quarrel with their right to do that but I ask: Is it consistent to object obsessively to love-making scenes and yet allow evils such as hate, greed, envy, calumny and violence to be depicted in minute detail with not a pen raised in anger?

Mr Hayden - A commendable observation.

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