(Printed in the Towanda Daily Review on 11/2/94.)
Editor: It appears that River City is in trouble again, only this time it begins with a "C" that stands for censorship. A group, Morality in the Media (MM), is sponsoring a campaign for the enforcement of federal obscenity and anti-pornography laws (Review letter-to-the-editor, 10/30/94). People supporting their cause are urged to display white ribbons from Oct. 30 through Nov. 6. Anyone supporting this cause has every right to do so -- display your ribbons with pride. The campaign has been named White Ribbons Against Pornography or WRAP.
However, do you actually know what it is that you're supporting? I would assume that MM wants to remove all pornography and obscenity from all media or, at the very least, limit or eliminate access to the offending media by the public. I would also assume that "media" means television, newspapers, books, magazines, video tapes, audio recordings, and any other method used to convey information.
The U.S. courts, including the Supreme Court of the U.S., have been unable to define obscenity or pornography. Apparently, MM has formulated a clear definition: if we say it's obscene or pornographic, then it is.
This is where the trouble (in River City) begins. With censorship, who decides what gets censored? I doubt that anything can exist that would offend no one. The only reasonable answer is that parents decide for their minor children, and adults decide for themselves. I want no one except J. L. Ferri making decisions about what I can hear, see, or read. Adults should make their own decisions.
However, I would agree to censorship if I get to be the censor. First, I would censor Ferri's letters. Next, the Daily Review. During the Lorena Bobbit trial, this paper had the word "penis" on the front page five times in one day in the Jan. 12, 1994 issue. Maybe WRAP should stand for White Ribbons Against Penises.
Continuing with my censorship, and even though it contains untold good, the Bible, particularly the NIV, has to go. For example, Ezekiel 23:19-21. Look it up because I doubt that it could be printed here. If you like erotic poetry, try Song of Songs 7:1-9. Have you assaulted someone? Read Deuteronomy 22:28-29 for guidance. Need business inspiration, try Deuteronomy 20:10-15.
I hope that you think my censorship decisions are outrageous.
Similarly, I would probably completely disagree with your choices. Any form of censorship cannot exist in a free society because something will eventually offend someone. If you don't like something, then don't read it, don't look at it, or don't listen to it. It's your choice. I'll make my own decisions.
So join in my ribbon campaign. Display white ribbons to show your support against censorship. I call it WRAP -- White Ribbons Against Pinheads.
John L. Ferri