News and Views
March 1966 • Vol. 1 No. 6
Originally published in the March 1966 issue of Tangents
TOLEDO, OHIO—“It is not only old hat but rather outre to belong to one of the two original sexes. Indeed, they are no longer regarded as original; just fuddy-dud. Today, the third sex dominates the seven lively arts, it has a strangle-hold on the theatre, and a dominant place in modern literature.
“Who can remember the good, old days—at least good and old to me—when the Broadway success formula was ‘boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy gets girl’? Today no producer would touch such a theme with a ten-foot critic. The formula, after the war, was quickly revised to ‘boy meets girl (ugh!), boy meets boy (ah!), boy gets boy.’ “
Who says so? Inez Robb in the Toledo Times.
NEW YORK—But another Times, the New York one, speaks differently on the subject, through its distinguished drama critic, Stanley Kauffman:
There is no law against heterosexual dramatists, and there is no demonstrable cabal against their being produced. If there are heterosexuals who have talent equivalent [to that of the three most successful playwrights of the past 20 years who are reputedly homosexual] why aren’t these ‘normal’ people writing? Why don’t they counterbalance and correct the distorted picture?
But to talk of what is and not of what might be—the fact is that the homosexual dramatist is not to blame in this matter. If he writes of marriage and of other relationships about which he knows or cares little, it is because he has no choice but to masquerade. Both convention and the law demand it. In society, the homosexual’s life must be discreetly concealed. As material for drama, that life must be even more intensely concealed. If he is to write of his experience, he must invent a two-sex version of the one-sex experience that he really knows. It is we who insist on it, not he.
There would seem to be only two alternative ways to end this masquerading. First, the dramatists’ guild can pass a law forbidding membership to those who do not pass a medico-psychological test of heterosexuality, or, second, social and theatrical convention can be widened so that homosexual life may be as freely dramatized as heterosexual life, may be as frankly treated in our drama as it is in contemporary fiction.
Tangents is with Mr. Kauffman in these sentiments, and while his article involves him in some generalizations about the supposed inevitable superficiality of homosexual art, with which we cannot agree, we applaud his conclusion:
A serious public, seriously interested in the theatre, must sooner or later consider that, when it complains of homosexual influence and distortions, it is complaining at one remove, about its own attitudes.
LONDON—The Slater Selective Vocabulary Test—not, happily, named after the editor of this magazine— is made up of 10 words “well-known to women but not to men, and 40 well-known to men but not to women.” Can homosexuals be identified by means of this test? R. V. G. Clarke reports in the British Journal of Medical Psychology that they cannot. After administering the test to 20 homosexuals and 20 heterosexuals matched for age, IQ, and social class, Clarke found the average number of “masculine words” familiar to homosexuals was “just significantly less” than the average familiar to heterosexuals (26.1 vs. 29.35), but there was virtually no difference between the average number of “feminine words” known to the two groups. Nor did the results of subtracting feminine from masculine scores reveal any significant differences between subjects and controls. “These results do not support the theory that homosexual men are characterized by feminine interests.” This surprises someone?
CHICAGO—In the Journal of Abnormal Psychology, Drs. E. H. Hess, A. L. Seltzer and J. M. Schlein of the University of Chicago report testing for sexual preference by measuring the size of eye pupils. Homosexuals and heterosexuals were shown male and female nude photographs. Their eyes were photographed while they stared at these.
Results indicated that response to any single stimulus failed to categorize individuals, as some of the female stimuli were associated with an increase in the pupillary size of some of the homosexuals, and vice-versa for the heterosexuals…
However, when for each subject a different score was computed by subtracting total responses to female pictures, a clear-cut discrimination between the groups was obtained. All heterosexual males showed a larger response to female than to male stimuli. Four of the homosexuals showed a larger response to pictures of men.
Ain’t science wonderful!
ATLANTA—The Journal and Constitution, in the first week of January, printed a series of seven articles by Dick Hebert on homosexuality, titled “Atlanta’s Lonely Gay World.” Despite certain bad mistakes, mainly from the psychologists interviewed, the articles contain much that is truthful and fair. They accurately cover the life of Atlanta’s five “gay” bars, make nice distinctions between butch, queen, and hustler, print the substance of two interviews with responsible and articulate young men, trace the history and policies of homosexual organizations and publications, and crack down hard on police methods.
This latter fact brought from the American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia a “Memorandum to the Aldermaniac Police Committee” titled Homosexuals and the Law. Argued ACLU,
Mass arrests on devious pretexts mean that individuals guilty of no crime…may suffer irreparable damage to their reputations, a damage for which there is no legal redress. While it is doubtful that police action accomplishes any positive good in attempting to cope with the problem, it is certain that the methods employed by the police do a great deal of harm, not only to homosexuals, but to the community at large. If the police use illegal pretexts for the arrest of homosexuals, then they are violating constitutional rights, and we will do everything in our power to stop these violations.
CHRISNEY, INDIANA—Eugene Masterson, owner of a tree nursery in this community of 300, will permit his two teen-age daughters to go back to school now that the superintendent has agreed the girls may leave the classroom when sex is discussed. He got his way when he swore he would go to jail rather than allow his daughters to be “embarrassed by sex talk in co-educational classes.” Masterson’s 17 year old son, Don, will not be going back to Chrisney High, however. His father would rather have him drop out than be corrupted.
STANFORD, CALIF.—A far cry from Chrisney High is Stanford University, where a month ago a group of students formed a Sexual Rights Forum. The group’s five-man executive board has issued a statement, reports the UPI, declaring it would be better for society to accept varying sexual practices than indulge in “massive hypocrisy.” The new group favors legalized abortion, legalized prostitution, and elimination of discrimination against homosexuals.
TRENTON, N.J. —“Everybody’s reading it,” is what they are saying about the New Jersey legislature’s new anti-obscenity bill. A tongue-in-cheek newspaper write-up of the legislation, passed in December, brought hundreds of requests for copies from citizens. Says the UPI,
The legislation is, by its own definition, obscene. Children had to be cleared from the Senate gallery whenever the bill was discussed, because the Garden State’s legislature went to great pains to describe in detail those parts of the anatomy and those sexual acts outlawed in print. “Who’d pay for dirty books when you can get the bill for free?” asked one Statehouse cynic, noting the bill’s popularity.
WASHINGTON—Excellent coverage of the pros (if any) and cons of the censorship tangle now confronting the U.S. Supreme Court appeared in The National Observer, November 15th last. Sample quotations:
For obvious reasons neither liberals nor conservatives are totally pleased with the Court’s recent work, and are hopeful that the current cases will clean shop. “Their definition of obscenity was fine,” says Lawrence Speiser, the ACLU’s man in Washington, “but we don’t believe anything, even hard-core pornography, should be censored. It is too difficult for the censor to apply these definitions, no matter how clear or enlightened.”
“We think,” says Charles Keating, president of the Citizens for Decent Literature, “that the Court has a clearcut chance here to emphasize the criminal rather than the civil aspect of obscenity cases. Both of these men [Ralph Ginzburg, publisher of Eros; Edward Mishkin, publisher of magazines accenting sado-masochism] are known pornographers… We aren’t out to burn books but to jail criminals.”
The Observer quotes Geoffrey Shurlock, president of the Production Code Administration in Hollywood:
It’s all a matter of what the public expects and wants. It is poppy-cock to say they’re scandalized by our films. My office is getting fewer letters of complaint right now than ever in my memory. The whole world is changing standards. The schools are changing, the Army is changing, the parents are changing, and the Roman Catholic Church is changing. Everybody is much franker now.
Los ANGELES—County Supervisor Warren Dorn has shelved his attempt to get enough names on initiative petitions to oblige a public vote on his so-called “decency amendment” (see “Tangents,” October 1965). Had it qualified for the ballot and been approved by voters, the amendment would have overturned court rulings that state law in the field of illegal sexual activity pre-empts local law and would have opened the field, from obscenity to prostitution, to new action by cities and counties. Dorn claims he has withdrawn his proposed amendment because Governor Brown has promised to put the general subject on special call for the 1966 legislative session. Besides, says Dorn, the Democratic floor leader of the California assembly has threatened defeat of several measures of crucial interest to Los Angeles County voters if the decency amendment effort continues. But The Daily Enterprise, in an editorial, says the real truth is that Dorn is having too much difficulty getting the necessary number of signatures to qualify his measure for the ballot.
SACRAMENTO—But if bluenose Dorn is out of business, San Diego State Assemblyman Richard Barnes (see “Tangents,” July 1965), despite many defeats, is at it still. With State Senator Jack Schrade, he has started CLEAN, Inc. (California League Enlisting Action Now). “Waving paperback books…at a news conference, Schrade said, ‘The present law is so weak that it provides smut publishers and peddlers with escape hatches and virtual immunity from prosecution,’” reports the Los Angeles Times. CLEAN wants a law that would make a jury “the exclusive judge of the common conscience of the community.” If you’ve served on a jury lately you know this is tantamount to proposing that the blind are the most fit to lead the blind.
• The Knights of Columbus, a Roman Catholic organization, has donated $15,000 to the Citizens for Decent Literature
• In Richmond, Virginia, James Kilpatrick, editor of the News Leader, organized “The Beadle Bumble Fund,” named for the Dickens character who called the law “an ass—an idiot,” in reaction to the order by the Hanover County School Board for the removal from school libraries of all copies of To Kill a Mockingbird. Of Harper Lee’s Pulitzer Prize Novel concerning the efforts of a white lawyer in behalf of a Negro charged with rape, Kilpatrick said, “A more moral novel scarcely could be imagined… It is read by high school students everywhere but in Hanover County”
• Homosexuality in prison was thoroughly treated in Walker Lundy’s article in the January 9 Atlanta Journal and Constitution, sensationally treated by Donald Lee in the magazine Fact, Nov–Dec, 1965, and publicized from the lesbian viewpoint in a long letter in the January 6 Village Voice
• Transvestites are troubling California lawmakers, since a 1961 Supreme Court ruling invalidated Los Angeles “consorting’” ordinances. Says City Attorney Roger Arnebergh, “This group is openly increasing without any adequate means of curtailment available to law enforcement officers.” Too bad…
• Said Dr. Jerome M. Kummer of the Los Angeles School of Medicine at a Chicago doctor’s convention, “In our Country, it is apparent that abortion is a definite part of social mores, with society steadfastly refusing to admit this to be so.” Modification of the laws against abortion, he said, would reduce the estimated million criminal abortions in this country each year, that result in some 5,000 deaths.
• Not only has that San Diego school teacher, Mrs. Geri Turner Davis, who wrote a controversial play entitled A Cat Named Jesus, been allowed to keep her teaching credential, but the play has been bought for motion pictures
• According to a Reuters dispatch from Havana, “Communist Cuba’s fashion-conscious ideologists are accusing western clothes designers of a homosexual plot to undermine mankind…through the influence of impudent, degenerate and antisocial modes of attire.”
• Out in Norman, Oklahoma, it seems college students are acting exactly like college students at Stanford and Lord knows what other sinful seats of learning. Marijuana was found at a party involving 23 U. of O. Students…so were peyote, barbiturates, and other drugs…a nude 18 year old girl in bed with a male student and—worse and worse!—a cache of homosexual literature.
—In Clark County, Nevada, the powers that be obviously got their signals crossed, and officers raided a callgirl’s nest whose client of the moment turned out to be the Office Manager of the County Planning Commission. Oops, sorry!
—April Ashley spent the night of 17 December last in the women’s section of the Savannah, Georgia jail, before officers discovered “she” was really a he!
• Ann Landers printed a letter from a Ph.D. in physics, evidently a well-adjusted, successful citizen, who objects (as Tangents does) to Ann’s repeated recommendation to parents that their deviant sons be given psychiatric aid. The letter writer says such “aid” only made a nervous wreck of him and that it wasn’t until a freshman counselor in college advised him to accept the fact of his “difference” [and] that he could build a non-neurotic life. Ann admits “cures” take place in less than three per cent of cases, but “I always recommend therapy because, while it might not produce a cure, it does help the homosexual accept himself…which is what your therapist did for you, whether you realize it or not.”
• Perhaps a little therapy is needed out in birdland. It seems the male Phalarope not only fertilizes the eggs but when they’re laid by the female it is dad who incubates and hatches them.
• The death of Lord Sempill is causing confusion in bonnie Scotland. Sempill’s sister, born Elizabeth Forbes-Sempill, announced in 1952 that she had become a man and changed her name to Ewan Forbes-Sempill. Lord Sempill had no sons, but if his sister is really his brother, brother inherits.
• In Mexico City a “redfaced” policeman told his superiors that when he attempted to break up a late night party, revelers took his pants down and gave him an old-fashioned spanking—which would appear to indicate that not only his face was red.
©1966, 2016 by The Tangent Group. All rights reserved.