Freedom of Speech, Morality and Obscene Literature

Burl E. Russell
Indianapolis, Indiana

Currently there is considerable discussion in Indiana, about the immoral filth that is flooding the market today. Some claim that such immorality cannot be curtailed by legislation; some claim that it would abridge our freedom of speech if it were to be, while others, who know that it is a brew of the devil, are giving assent to its being sold, by their silence. To say that morality cannot be legislated is a reflection on God, as He has always legislated moralityand obedience is a requisite for His graceand I believe His word teaches that we are free to speak the truth, but not to the extent of offending the conscience of others. Furthermore our constitution upholds these rights, and proscribes offending other citizens.

It is a generally accepted principle that both this divine and constitutional freedom does not license the foul-mouthed degenerate to spout his obscenity in public at will so why should it license greedy immoral men to exploit man's latent prurient instincts by peddling the fetid refuse of minds which are cesspools of filth? God has made it dear that "the imagination of man's heart is evil from his youth" (Gen. 8:21), but He has made it equally clear that unless we avoid this natural inclination to have impure thoughts, like a plague, we cannot expect to inherit eternal life. He has never meant for man to entertain unwholesome thoughts about anything He has created, sex included, so a wholesome concept of sex should be cultivated. But how can this be done successfully with so much pornography and immoral literature on the market which is created to deliberately arouse and excite man's erotic nature, and which, in turn, produces a sordid attitude toward God's means of procreation?

I cannot believe that it is merely a coincidence that the annual national increase in statutory rapes is in about the same proportion as the increase in pornography and immoral filth, and the increase in the brevity of female attire. Therefore it seems to me that before our society has the right to expect any decrease in these attacks and our skidding moral standards to be elevated, it will either have to take this obscenity off the newsstands, or put more clothes on the modern women, or both, as both contribute substantially to our declining national morality.

Hypothetically speakinghow is it possible to develop the proper respect and attitude in a child for others with someone constantly and deliberately arousing his anger and rebellious instincts? Would one tie up his dog and deliberately incite and aggravate its anger and fighting instincts, until it became a savage and vicious animaland then expect it, when turned loose, to display a sweet and amiable disposition? Wouldn't it be the natural thing for the animal to again become savage and vicious, the moment it saw a cane or stick, which resembled that which aroused it in the first place? By the same token, when pornography and obscenity arouse and excite man's baser instincts and evil thoughts, which lower him to the near-animal level, and then he sees the modern woman clad only in very brief shortsthat which has aroused his erotic nature in the first place, with only the obscene implications absent, how can some men be expected to retain a wholesome concept of sex, or even a respect for the virtues of the opposite sex?

I don't believe there should be any particular established group arbitrarily dictating what the public should or should not read or see, such as the 'National Organization for Decent Literature' of the Roman Catholic Church, which obviously uses this purpose as a pretext to silence criticism of itself; but when civil laws make the definition of "obscenity" so clear, and when the majority of normal people make this same clear distinction, and when it is so obvious that this filth is detrimental to the best interests of the majority, it needs to be outlawed.

But how will it be possible to get this immoral filth off the market? If it is left up to the citizens who don't care about our skidding morality, or those who live after the flesh, it is a foregone conclusion that it will never be done. I believe it is every Christian's duty to make his voice heard in this matter, as in every matter of like nature! All of us can and should write our duly elected representatives, speak to those who have any influence in such matterswrite to the editor of your local paper, or take a stand against immorality in some way  BUT DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT! While those who look for this filth will find it if they are willing to pay the price, it needs to be made illegal, and put underground, where our very young won't stumble across it on the newsstand and who may, in turn, become a potential libertine, and set his affections on things of a sordid nature, not on things above.


TRUTH MAGAZINE X: 8, pp. 8-9 May 1966