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Re: censoring films

[N.B.  This message was submitted by Peter Suber on August 8, but not 
posted until today because of demonic software incompatibilities.]

At 05:37 PM 8/8/2002 -0400, Rick Anderson wrote:
>> The debate in Utah began four years ago when an American Fork company,
>> Sunset Video, found a profitable business in clipping a nude scene from
>> hundreds of video copies of "Titanic" brought to them by owners. The
>> concept of so-called "family-friendly" videos was well-received in Utah
>> and other religiously conservative parts of the country
>Gosh, and it seems like just a minute ago that we were energetically
>defending the "rights of consumers to do what they want with products
>they've purchased."  Well, we all know what Ralph Waldo Emerson said about
>consistency...  :-)
>Rick Anderson

If no one in this thread has yet defended the Utah puritans, I will.  
What they are doing is legally defensible, even if it is not artistically
defensible.  (As Supreme Court justices like to say, it is permissible
even if not wise.)  Hollywood directors have a right to be angry, as
artists, but they should keep their lawyers on a leash.  This is a good
example of what we must tolerate if we take the first-sale doctrine

There's no contradiction between defending this example of first-sale and
a background opposition to censorship.  Censorship is objectionable when
it is involuntary, or when someone decides for others what they should
see, hear, or read.  But this is consensual censorship, no different from
tearing selected pages out of a book one owns, plugging one's ears at
certain verses of a song, or averting one's eyes from a violent scene in a

Peter Suber, Professor of Philosophy
Earlham College, Richmond, Indiana, 47374
Email peters@earlham.edu
Web http://www.earlham.edu/~peters

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