CENSORSHIP: The Search for the Obscene by

CENSORSHIP: The Search for the Obscene

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KIRKUS REVIEW

The lawyer-authors have collected the leading court cases from which has evolved the present posture of American law as it strives to balance the competing interests of free expression and that omnipresent guardian of the Puritan mind--the official censor. Selective use of actual cases, rather than lengthy exposition of the authors' views is effective in developing an historical mosaic of the changing--and often contradictory--judicial attitudes toward publication of words and ideas that shock. And, in between the quotations of court reports, Messrs. Ernst and Schwartz conduct a well-organized tour through judicial logic-- and sometimes illogic. Their book is written for intelligent laymen, and they do an admirable job in stripping their subject of verbiage peculiar to the law. While a healthy effort is made to state both sides of the argument, the authors clearly are on the side of those who desire to speak plainly about sex, whether the literature involved concerns the gentle pleasure of libidinous gamekeepers or the more prosaic language of medical text-books. The ""search for the obscene"" is a fruitless one, if by that we mean a judicial or legislative standard objectively capable of enabling censors to act wisely. For it is implied that the censorious mind is by nature unwise, and almost always will deem necessarily abstract definitions of obscenity to permit the widest scope for its book burning. The book effectively argues that the values inherent in the Constitutional guarantee of free speech outweigh the danger of titillating salacious minds.

Publisher: Macmillan