Keating on Pornography
On 27 May 1960, Charles H. Keating, Jr. (b.1923), serving as legal counsel
for Citizens for Decent Literature, Cincinnati Ohio, testified at a hearing
before the Subcommittee on Postal Operations.
Keating is a former anti-porn activist and the financier behind the Lincoln
Savings and Loan scandal. His anti-porn organization got in trouble in 1962
for spending over 90% of the funds they raised.
United States Congress, House of Representatives,
Post Office and Civil Service Committee
"Circulation of Obscene and Pornographic Material"
Washington, DC, Government Printing Office, 1960
86th Congress, second session, U110
To be brief, for your sake, we have excerpted from these letters, and we
also have with us a statement with the pertinent quotes which, again, I think
would be a point of interest for your committee to study. This is the people
speaking from the grass roots. It is clear, factual, written evidence of
their feeling. It is plain talk with names and addresses of people deeply
concerned with this problem.
They state this problem of obscenity as seen at the grass roots. Please have
these letters carefully reviewed. They are important. They speak the heart
and mind of America. They will discover the problem for you, define it and
concretely demand its elimination. No side issues or generalities here.
Plain talk, names and addresses of free people deeply concerned with the
erosion of their freedoms and morality by oftentimes comical, but always
dangerous individuals who cry freedom to license their filth and to profit
from depravity. These persons will help "censorship," "art," "borderline,"
and other undefined words and phrases to disguise their wares of sadism,
masochism, narcmissism [sic], cannibalism, cunnilingualism, sodomy,
necrophilia, and all the other rot they peddle which among other things,
causes premarital intercourse, perversion, masturbation in boys, wantonness
in girls, and weakens the morality of all its contacts.
What we would like to do is refer to this rather impressive mound of material
which was sent to us. We did not tell anybody what kind of magazine to send
to us but told them to send what they thought offended their community level
of morality in the particular area in which they live. We have taken the
liberty of piling it up here for you in boxes on the table and suggest that
that is the type of things Americans object to. We say, "Look closely at
this." This was not sent in by fanatical housewives or mothers concerned
only over the welfare of their children, which is a legitimate concern, but
there are books sent in by hardened police officers, attorneys, doctors,
psychologists, civil and religious organizations, all of which, again, is
documented in the letters which I will hand you.
At the expense of considerable time we have excerpted some of the pertinent
quotations from many of the letters. They accompany this statement and should
be read. Add to these protests and pleas for help the thousands of letters
received by members of local, State, and Federal Government, and the letters
sent you, yourselves, have received, and you will see the fact: The fact that
we speak for most citizens.
Look closely also at this mass of evidence sent from the newsstands of America
by those letter writers, by attorneys, doctors, police officers, fraternal,
civic and religious organizations, just plain citizens. See what they object
to. Have them carefully reviewed, read them yourselves. Judge for yourselves
but judge with knowledge of the contents of this rather imposing group of
This material came to us in response to a relatively few letters mailed
from CDL [Citizens for Decent Literature] requesting information and evidence
from those citizens who somehow or other seldom seem to be heard by their
Government -- and who are never heard by or represented in any of the mass
media of communication, with the exception of a few important spokesmen such
as George Sokolsky, Inez Robb, Loretta Young, Bishop Sheen, Howard Whitman,
Jack Mabley and several others.
A copy of the letter we sent is attached. The magazines I give to your
committee files. They present many obviously interesting and worthwhile
studies and considerations.
In these days hard-hitting groups like the Military Chaplains association
(whose forceful 1959 resolution is part of your previous record) are ignored.
I might add here that I was at the convention when that resolution was
adopted. The people who formulated it were admirals, generals, and men
in the military services of the Armed Forces who had experienced all types
of life under all types of conditions. Certainly they are not a bunch of
On the contrary, attention is given to sensationalists, such as Kinsey, who
draw sweeping conclusions from a handful of selected subjects and defraud the
public by calling their meanderings a scientific study -- and Eberhard and
Phyllis Kronhausen, who, finding fellow travelers in erstwhile respectable
media manage to disseminate, directly and indirectly, their absurd and dirty
bleatings and pagan ideas. If these people and their surveys are able to be
called scientific, then certainly this collection of opinion and comment which
I have given you, coming from all corners of America, has a quality much more
significant, and cannot be ignored.
It is interesting to note that we sent the letter to not more than 2,000
people and mailed it on May 3, 1960, only 24 days ago.
It seems strange to me that we credit (I should say that our mass media
credit) the unestablished generalities of a few so-called experts but ignore
the overwhelming testimony of the true experts like so many of your previously
testifying witnesses, of men like Pitirim Sirokin, J. Edgar Hoover, juvenile
court judges, clergymen, psychologists, court workers, and innumerable others.