Vol. 1 No. 10, pages 2, 16.
Editorial by Don Slater
Originally published in the July 1966 issue of Tangents
The recently formed non-profit organization, the California League Enlisting Action Now, is apparently gaining support from state and county agencies, from religious and educational groups, for its anti-obscenity initiative known as CLEAN. Richard Barnes, Assemblyman from San Diego, is president of the organization. Senators John Schmitz and Jack Schrade and Assemblyman Carley Porter have joined in this virtuous-sounding “campaign against the dissemination of smut.”
We cannot believe that its newly gained supporters understand the dirty implications of CLEAN. Before sensible California citizens rush out to endorse what they may believe is a simple piece of legislation against something truly dangerous, we urge them all to write to CLEAN headquarters, 1256 West 7th St., Los Angeles, California and see the bigotry and viciousness disclosed in the proposals of this initiative.
One section of the law provides for the seizure of all copies of any object which “any officer qualified to make an arrest” believes may contain obscene material. The attempt to cloak such an arbitrary power with legislative sanction is awesome. One of the Constitutional rights we treasure most, the freedom of the press and independent thought, could be jeopardized and made a mockery of at the whim or will of any egocentric extremist, neurotic or psychotic group or individual through passage of this initiative.
The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office already believes that it will, through this measure, acquire added strength in dealing with alleged pornographic material. Shortly after the EROS and Mishkin decisions much of the literature that the D.A. considered obscene “mysteriously” disappeared from Los Angeles newsstand shelves. But, by now, most of it is back. Harry Wood, chief of the D.A.’s appellate division, in urging that the penal code be strengthened to deal with obscene literature, recently said, “I hope that we will soon be able to successfully prosecute more of the girlie and nudist magazines than ever before.” Wood and his associate, deputy district attorney Wm. McGinley, have been working in the area of obscene literature for years, but until the CLEAN measure becomes law, they admit, their hands are tied by constitutional considerations.
Even under present laws Wood and McGinley have an information center that distributes what they call “special decisions” (such as EROS) having to do with obscenity. They believe that other law enforcement agencies might find the court decisions useful in determining what they can or cannot hope to prosecute smut-wise successfully. The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office is already circulating a monthly bulletin on law enforcement that includes a section on obscene literature. Each section contains a list of books that have been arbitrarily classified by the office to be obscene. For the purpose of making determinations the books are read by Wood and McGinley. These men have established a rating system for themselves. Books and magazines that they feel have “prurient content” or “sexual deviation content” are rated from 1 to 10. “In that manner, we can decide whether the material is wholly obscene and utterly without redeeming social value—both important considerations cited by the Supreme Court” notes McGinley. In determining the obscene content of magazines with nude pictures the two deputy district attorneys look for such things as “compromising positions” of individuals pictured. And, often untanned portions of bare bodies will be to these gentlemen a “tip-off” that the individuals are not real nudists, and the pictures obscene by their definition.
The CLEAN initiative is expected to be presented to California voters in November. It is an attempt to sanctify the worst kind of political chicanery and hypocritical concern for the welfare of the community.
From our point of view CLEAN is a dirty and dangerous campaign.
©1965, 2016 by The Tangent Group. All rights reserved.