The judge said the words "appeal to dirty thoughts and the loins, not to the intellect" and, not to split hairs, the 2 Live Crew album is obscene.
Which reminded me of one of the few delightful editorial conferences I ever attended, in which the solemn topic was what to do about the word "bull" when compounded with the common word for ordure. Should such a word be published? Surely not in its entirety? Maybe just a tad?
One fellow, himself an American treasure but now gone to God, said the practice of printing "bull----" was absurd. But another celebrated person, an overall idiot, said the matter perhaps ought to be reviewed every six months, and as public attitudes changed, then the policy on the word might change.
The first man asked if that meant that every six months another letter might be added as public acceptance gradually changed?
It was then suggested the word might be printed with four hyphens to begin the word and the final four letters printed.
As in most such meetings nobody was quite sure what was decided, but what a splendid morning for a change.
Printing a word with hyphens for omitted letters is somewhat like putting paper ruffs on pork chops. The chops would instantly suggest both "loin" and "pig" to any presiding judge, but I have never known whether the paper frills are supposed to disguise the loin or glorify it.
Back to the dreadful album, I compliment the judge for having figured out the words. It used to baffle me how kids could get the words at rock concerts until I realized they don't register the words any better than their elders. For kids, it's sufficient to know the words are disapproved of, and never mind whether anybody can actually hear them.
There's no point rehashing the immemorial arguments for and against obscenity, but we might refine a careless perception or two.
First, I see nothing racist in the court's finding of obscenity in the album. I have no doubt the judge disapproves of appeals to the loins no matter whose. We need not buy the argument that the 2 Live Crew is persecuted because its members are black, while white performers of equal obscenity are not handcuffed and taken to jail.
Many white producers of bawdy stuff have indeed been prosecuted. It is no argument at all to say you know some who have never been arrested. To clarify this point, it would do a white drug dealer no good to complain when arrested that he knows some black dealers who have not been busted.
So the ruling is not racist, but certainly it is class-oriented. The words are deemed lower class by all steady righteous persons, and they figure the sooner the lower classes are shut up the better. You would never use those words or sing that song at a Tennessee Society picnic here in Washington. It follows, therefore, if that is the only society you ever heard of that you would judge the words unacceptable, period.
Still, people of the class that like such songs probably should not be handcuffed and toted off in the paddy wagon merely because we prefer "Drink to Me Only With Thine Eyes."
Tolerance in this field has always been easy for me, as I actively loathed Tommy Dorsey, Tony Pastor and Benny Goodman, whose music I was supposed to love when I was growing up. I had sense enough not to say I thought big-band music was for badgers and rats, but I could not help learning the lesson that even semi-respectable people can differ in musical taste.
On the matter of children, it is said the little ones should be sheltered from foul lyrics. They should also be sheltered from roach poison, drain cleaners and bottles of pepper sauce, and the family dog should be protected from them. Pine oil (which I greatly admire the smell of) probably does more harm to kids than 2,000 Live Crew, and so does gasoline and so do cars and stairways and windows.
It was once obvious to a lord chief justice of England that Presbyterians were the ultimate pits and they should be hanged, drawn and quartered whenever the court was lucky enough to catch one. His lordship possibly hated endless sermons. Fair enough, but there is such a thing as excessive disapproval. In any case, we no longer hang Presbyterians, or at least not for that alone. The lesson was learned eventually that things work better if you stop hauling into court everybody who bugs you. It is a hard lesson -- I would gladly have seen the Dorseys hanged -- but a useful one.
You can, at the moment, say the president is a cynical ass, but a bunch of singers cannot sing certain songs that appeal to the loins and not the intellect. And why?
Because the wretched prissy keyhole-squinting nannies who spend their lives prissing, squinting and nannying have concluded (probably correctly) they are a majority in America now and can (it will come next year) amend the Constitution to forbid the word bull, to say nothing of zounds.
Susan Davis, who would ordinarily have produced for this piece a drawing of the Dorseys hanged, excuses her absence today on grounds that she became a mother Tuesday. Beautiful little girl.