Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Censorship in Hollywood

Last week I watched The Birth of a Nation for the first time.  In the special features, the narrator quoted from a Supreme Court case that held First Amendment rights did not apply to motion pictures.  Fascinated, I did some research and found the quote.  The case was Mutual v. Ohio.  The money quote:

"It cannot be put out of view that the exhibition of moving pictures is a business, pure and simple, originated and conducted for profit, like other spectacles, not to be regarded, nor intended to be regarded by the Ohio Constitution, we think, as part of the press of the country, or as organs of public opinion. They are mere representations of events, of ideas and sentiments published and known; vivid, useful, and entertaining, no doubt, but, as we have said, capable of evil, having power for it, the greater because of their attractiveness and manner of exhibition. It was this capability and power, and it may be in experience of them, that induced the state of Ohio, in addition to prescribing penalties for immoral exhibitions, as it does in its Criminal [236 U.S. 230, 245] Code, to require censorship before exhibition, as it does by the act under review. We cannot regard this as beyond the power of government."

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