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A BILL TO CREATE A NEW DIVISION OF THE BUREAU OF EDU-
ITS POWERS AND DUTIES
JANUARY 13, 14, 15, 17, 18, AND 19, 1916
COMMITTEE ON EDUCATION.
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES.
DUDLEY M. HUGHES, Georgia, Chairman. WILLIAM W. RUCKER, Missouri.
CALEB POWERS, Kentucky. ROBERT L. DOUGHTON, North Carolina. HORACE M. TOWNER, Iowa. JOHN W. ABERCROMBIE, Alabama. EDMUND PLATT, New York. CLAUDIUS U. STONE, Illinois.
SIMEON D. FESS, Ohio. JOHN A. KEY, Ohio.
FREDERICK W. DALLINGER, Massachuse WILLIAM J. SEARS, Florida.
S. TAYLOR NORTH, Pennsylvania. BENJAMIN C. HILLIARD), Colorado. R. M. MCCRACKEN, Idaho.
JAMES L. FORT, Clerk. 2
FEDERAL MOTION PICTURE COMMISSION.
COMMITTEE ON EDUCATION,
Thursday, January 13, 1916. The committee met at 8 o'clock p. m., Hon. Dudley M. Hughes (chairman) presiding.
The CHAIRMAN. The committee will come to order. The time has arrived for the opening of these hearings, and I wish to say for the information of all concerned that the committee has granted six evenings for the hearings on this bill, three for and three against; and on each evening we will be in session two and one-half hours. The plan suggested by the committee is that the time will be equally divided pro and con, and I so notified Mr. Binder, the executive secretary of the Motion Picture Board of Trade, and he notified those interested in opposition to the bill. I also advised Dr. Crafts, superintendent of the International Reform Bureau, of the same. I presume that the time will be controlled by Dr. Crafts and Mr. Binder, and those who wish time to discuss this matter will arrange with those two gentlemen. Under the custom, the first speaker of the evening is for the affirmative, and will be Dr. Crafts.
Mr. Fess. Mr. Chairman, before Dr. Crafts begins, may it be understood that we will not sit here later than 10 o'clock?
The CHAIRMAN. 10.30. I will state to all concerned that we will close this meeting at 10.30. Dr. Crafts will proceed first. I believe we all know Dr. Crafts, but we would like for each gentleman who address the committee to state his occupation, place of residence, etc. I will also further state that there are seven days granted for the purpose of filing briefs upon this question. We think that gives complete and full opportunity to all.
Mr. POWERS, of Kentucky. Do the seven days run from the time the hearings begin or from the time they end?
The CHAIRMAN. From the end of the hearings.
STATEMENT OF DR. WILBUR F. CRAFTS, OF WASHINGTON, D. C., SUPERINTENDENT OF THE INTERNATIONAL REFORM BUREAU.
Dr. CRAFTS. I represent the advocates of the Smith-Hughes bill, which provides for the establishment of a new department in the Bureau of Education, to be called the Motion Picture Commission, for the regulation of the great motion-picture interest, just as the railroad interest is regulated by the Interstate Commerce Commission, which suggested the establishment of this proposed similar commission.
I appear not only on behalf of the International Reform Bureau, of which I am superintendent, but also the Society for the Prevention of Crime, whose vice president, Canon Wm. Sheafe Chase, cooperated with me in the initiation of this movement, and also the religious, reformatory, and welfare societies of the country generally. I have here the numerous petitions that have already come to this committee for this bill, and I have examined to-day the petitions on the other side. I find no petitions against this bill except from those who are financially interested in the motion-picture business. All the church and welfare societies that have petitioned, so far as the committee files show, have petitioned for the bill.
The first thing which I wish to say as the spokesman of these welfare forces is that we desire to have it put on record that we have not asked for these hearings. We believe that the House Committee on Education was more than generous, almost more than just, in the large amount of time they allowed in the last Congress for hearing every argument which anyone on either side had to present. These full hearings were printed in two volumes of unusually large size for such hearings, and they are in the possession of every member of this committee as a printed brief that covers the subject thoroughly. There was no occasion for any further hearings. The demand for additional hearings came in the telegrams which lie here, sent by those who are financially interested in the motion-picture business and who thought their craft in danger, in which belief we think they are mistaken.
We believe that a committee which has in charge the educational interests of twenty millions of children and youth in our public schools, and probably five millions more in other institutions of learning, so guarding the welfare of one-fourth of the total population of the country, ought not to be kept here for six nights, for two hours and a half each night, and then expected to read briefs for another week on a subject which was fully considered and unanimously adjudicated by this committee as constituted in the last Congress. We should consider it a discourtesy to this committee to repeat here the arguments which were given before the committee in the last Congress, and are in its hands in printed form, unless a repetition of arguments previously presented on the other side compels us also to repeat some things in rebuttal.
I shall confine myself in this opening statement at least to new matter, and I hope the other side will consider the committee and the citizens who are here giving their service for the public welfare to the extent that they will not take all the time allowed unless it is necessary to present pertinent new matter, remembering that each Congressman on this committee has other pressing duties not only on this committee but on other committees also, and on the floor of Congress and in his office.
We will present in less than one-half of this one evening all that we consider both new and necessary on the affirmative side of this hearing.
PREVIOUS UNANIMOUS INDORSEMENT OF BILL BY HOUSE EDUCATION
As the first and best new argument for this bill, more recent than former hearings, I will read the unanimous report, made after the full hearings referred to, by this committee as constituted in the last Congress in favor of a bill exactly the same as that before us, except its number.
I do not know of anything that can be presented in these six nights and the seven days following that is so pertinent and convincing as this res adjudicata record with reference to this subject in the last Congress. It is rather a remarkable thing to have a bill of this kind unanimously reported Republicans and Democrats as one in the report (63d Cong., 3d sess., II. Rept. 1411), which reads as follows:
The Committee on Education, to whom was referred H. R. 14895 [New number in this Congress is H. R. 456], have considered the same and submit the following report, with the unanimous recommendation of the committee that the bill do pass :
The necessity for censorship of motion pictures is beyond question. It has 'been acknowledged by a large majority of the film manufacturers by their voluntary submission of their films to unofficial boards of censors for approval. That the public demands this censorship is demonstrated by the scrupulous regularity with which the producers exhibit such approval at the end of each picture.
With the acknowledgment of the need of censorship both by the motionpicture interests and the public they serve, the question arises as to what shall be the censorship and who shall do the censoring. “ The national board of censorship” at New York City is composed of representatives of various moral and civic organizations. The expenses of this board are paid by some of the leading motion-picture interests, and it has no legal authority. At the request of the manufacturers this board passes upon the pictures. The actual work is largely done by paid secretaries as representatives of the board, working under standards approved by the board. It is estimated that from 85 to 95 per cent of all pictures produced in this country are passed upon by this unofficial board.
In addition to this voluntary board there are numerous official censors, both State and municipal. The establishment of such large numbers of these local boards clearly demonstrates the inadequacy of the so-called “national board of censorship,” which by its very unofficial character can not exercise effective censorship. Though it were to exercise a careful and intelligent censorship over 95 per cent of all pictures, still there would remain 5 per cent which could be immoral and unfit to be shown. It is only fair to assume that those pictures which are most objectionable will not voluntarily be submitted for censorship. An unofficial board which has not the right to examine 100 per cent of the pictures is in reality not a board of censorship, but a board of recommendation and approval. As a matter of fact, evidence before the committee discloses that a very considerable percentage of the pictures approved by the unofficial board are declared by the local boards unfit for exhibition.
The character of the motion-picture industry renders State and municipal rensorship inadequate. Motion-picture films are essentially articles of interstate commerce. They are not manufactured for use in any one State or municipality, but practically every picture is exhibited in all of the States of the Union, and many are exported. Innumerable inspections by local boards work great hardships on the industry. In the absence of any official Federal censorship the States and cities are finding it necessary to establish these local boards to prevent the exhibition of immoral, indecent, and obscene pictures. The only adequate method of censoring motion pictures is to be had in & Federal commission, The bill which this report accompanies provides for the appointment by the President of five commissioners, and a supplementary force of advisory commissioners and deputy commissioners to be appointed by the commission. The commission is required to license all films intended for interstate commerce or which are to be offered for copyright "unless it finds that such film is obscene, indecent, immoral, inhuman, or depicts a bull fight or a prize fight, or is of such a character that its exhibition would tend to impair the health or corrupt the morals of children or adults or incite to crime.” It is further provided that a film not having been licensed by the commission shall not be transported in interstate commerce and shall not be granted