Some years ago I was involved in a parents' campaign for a central set of lights on a pelican crossing. It had lights on each side, but the road was wide and fast, and a bus had sailed obliviously through on the red, running over a little boy. He lost his leg as a result. The council resisted our request, saying there was not enough 'proof' that the crossing was dangerous. The implication was that when several more of our children had been squashed, they would consider the matter again. Fortunately, enough pressure was applied, and we got the extra lights before that could happen.
When a situation is almost certainly harmful, do we have to wait for the statisticians' proof before we try to remedy it? Do we believe this kind of proof infallible, a modern oracle that must be consulted before any action is taken? Where measures to reduce risk are in themselves not harmful, why shouldn't we act first and continue with statistic-taking at leisure? What is society deprived of if gratuitously sadistic and brutal films are curbed?
No one, I think, wants to return to the kind of stuffy censorship that we had into the 1960s. The move then was to liberate the arts from a hypocritical Victorian prudery that was totally out of touch with modern life. But had we foreseen what a tide of exploitative pornography and violence this would unleash, I think we would have tempered our demands.
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