Pornography & Censorship
The discussion we present this month grew out of PAUL GOODMAN’S article, “Pornography, Art & Censorship,” which appeared in the March COMMENTARY. RICHARD LICHTMAN, who here takes issue with Mr. Goodman, is assistant professor of philosophy at the University of Kansas City in Missouri. A reply by Goodman follows.
Mr. Lichtman writes: Paul Goodman has made what seems to me a dangerous defense of freedom in the area of pornography. It is not that he goes too far; he does not go far enough, and he gives, in part, the wrong reasons for traveling at all. Mill noted in the introduction to On Liberty that previous social reform had been concerned to alter the standards by which individual experience had been controlled, but that it had failed to ask the basic question-the right of society to any control over the individual. Mr. Goodman is engaged in the first kind of social reform, though on a much higher level than anything we are commonly used to. He has the eye of the social engineer, and his first concern is to replace the current corruption of sexual morality with a climate that is more humane. I do not wish to question his evaluation; but merely to note that his suggestions suffer from the same deficiency that has plagued social reformers from Plato to Lenin-an insufficient respect for the right of men to alter through their own decisions the social structures that control their lives.
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