Holyoke Play Bill Ordinance — Need of Proper Censorship

by Laurel | February 19th, 2013

12 February 1905

Theater Poster 1905

Theater Poster 1905

Much discussion has been created in Holyoke by the introduction by Alderman Richard P. Stapleton of an ordinance committing the city of Holyoke to the same policy that has been adopted in Springfield — the censoring of theatrical posters. That this censorship has proved irksome to the theatrical trust and other show management cannot be denied. That in some of its working out is had been a legitimate target for the fun-makers of the press may perhaps be conceded. But the vital points aimed at  — the suppression of the poster that appeals to the lower passions and the poster that depicts crime and affects the young people, particularly boys, worse perhaps than the dime novel — is one that must commend itself to the sober thought of the men and women of the community. As is often the case, political enmities and grudges may hinder an unbiased view of the ordinance, and atrophy of the moral sense in the case of others may lead to attempts to ridicule the matter in toto. But the fact remains that there are placed upon the billboards of Holyoke at times posters that by title of the play and by the pictures that illustrate it are directly and pictorially suggestive of immorality and an offense to decency and good taste. The enactment and proper enforcement of such an ordinance will be a long forward step. The crudites that are apparent in the hastily drafted bill of Alderman Stapleton’s ought and can be eradicated. The principle ought to be firmly backed by every member of the board of aldermen who have pride in assisting Holyoke to be a city of decent homes and of a fearless, independent people. Whether the measure passes or fails in the final vote of the board of aldermen, Alderman Stapleton is certainly entitled to a high measure of credit for bringing it forward. It took two or three years to get the curfew law enacted into ordinance, and whether this board believes that the time has come or not for such an ordinance eventually one of two things must happen either the manufacturers of theatrical lithographs will have to modify their depictions for posting on public billboards or this or some similar ordinance will have to be framed for the protection of the people.


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