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Ireland Has A Long History Of Censorship. Compare The Political And Cultural Motivations Behind Two Different Periods Of Censorship Since 1922

2985 words - 12 pages

This essay is based on two periods of censorship in Ireland: censorship of 'evil literature' in the second quarter of the twentieth century and the Emergency censorship 1939-1945. It will be argued that the main motivator behind the 1929 censorship was the Church while censorship during the Emergency was driven by political considerations. It will be made evident that the government's role became increasingly strong as church influence diminished and in some cases acted against what was perceived as national interest.Censorship of Publications Act 1929'They deceive the ordinary, average, ignorant reader into believing…that they are orthodox publications approved by the authority of ...view middle of the document...

Lord Devlin, a judge, member of the House of Lords and distinguished writer of 'The Enforcement of Morals' believed that sexual morality was the guarantor of the immutability of the community, the litmus test for the strength of its moral convictions. Hence the private act of reading evil literature was treason against the stability of the collective mind.The first to voice these arguments was Rev. R. S. Devane, S. J., author of Indecent Literature - Some Legal Remedies. He contributed an article that exemplified the intensity of conviction among some representatives of the clergy, by quoting with approval the Bishop of Clogher:'It would be somewhat reassuring to our sense of moral rectitude if we read of an Irish Catholic newsagent being sentenced to imprisonment or the lash by an Irish Catholic Judge for purveying such filth'He detailed remedies that appeared appropriate, including the enforcement of a new definition of obscenity, the declaration of birth control as being obscene, and a compilation of a Black List of Books.The Catholic PressThe Catholic press were quite powerful at the establishment of the state with regard to lobbying the government. The Catholic Bulletin, the Irish Rosary, The Standard, The Catholic Mind, The Leader and Studies were catholic publications and had many advantages. Its readers were a uniform, solid mass whose range of opinion on any matter was predictable and it was charged with a mission that guaranteed a readership who came to regard its weekly purchase as an almost religious ritual. In areas of morality, it represented a pressure group which elected representatives, ignored at their peril. Its message was heard by all Catholic activists, irrespective of socio-economic class and political conviction, and was generally attended to.The Vigilance AssociationBefore the beginning of the 1920s, various individuals and groups in Ireland were dissatisfied with the type of periodical and newspaper enjoying a wide readership in the country. Outstanding among these groups was the Irish Vigilance Association. It brought pressure to bear on newsagents to sign a pledge against stocking or selling objectionable newspapers, and attempted to arouse (sic) public opinion by letters to the press and the distribution of handbills at opportune times. It was organized by members of the Dominican order and the Irish Rosary was used as a vehicle for its ideas. An editorial from The Irish Rosary (February 1913) defined the association as a fight'against papers that fill their columns, issue after issue, with vile, filthy, immoral matter, unfit to be read by our Irish men and women'(Woodman cited Irish Rosary Editorial comment of Feb 1913)The Association sowed the seeds for future disparagement of the press which ultimately led to the founding of the Committee of Evil literature.The Committee on Evil Literature 1926Composition:The committee was composed of three laymen and two clergymen (one Roman Catholic and one Church of Ireland)...

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