Letter: The case against censorship and screen violence

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The Independent Online
HAVING started off your leader 'Viewers' death wish' (14 March) by castigating me for, you say, favouring censorship, you then proceed to expound the arguments that have been at the heart of our campaign for years: the glamorisation of violence and the power of television, proved by the advertisers' dependence upon it. You also speak of the 'hypocrisy' of those who claim that the screen cannot influence human behaviour, and so on.

It was not me who said in 1954 that programmes 'should not offend against good taste or decency, give offence to public feeling or incite to crime or disorder'. It was the broadcasting authorities in agreement with the Home Office. The Broadcasting Act of 1990 made these obligations a legal constraint.

We as an association believe external censorship is wrong. That does not mean that the public should not exercise its democratic right to speak out when we feel our homes to be violated, the threat to public order increased, or our children exposed to examples contrary to their interests.

At our first public meeting in Birmingham in May 1964 I said: 'If violence is constantly portrayed as normal on the television screen it will help create a violent society.' And so it has.

Mary Whitehouse

President, National Viewers'

and Listeners' Association

Colchester, Essex