1927 October 14

Irish-American Groups Seek Ban on Films That Offend Racial or Religious Groups


Leaders of Irish-American groups in New York City on this day demanded a city ordinance that would empower officials to revoke the license of any film that “maligns, ridicules, or gives offense to any racial or religious group.” The referred specifically to recent films “The Callahans and the Murphys” and “The Shamrock and the Rose.” One Jewish leader also spoke in favor of the proposed ordinance. Representatives of the motion picture industry, however, did not appear at the hearing before the General Welfare Committee of the Board of Alderman.

As this incident indicates, in the 1920s Irish-Catholic Americans advocated movie censorship to protect themselves from religious and ethnic slurs. By the 1930s, the Catholic Church became the leading pressure group advocating movie censorship primarily because of the expression of sexuality in the movies. See the infamous 1934 Motion Picture Production Code (June 13, 1934).

Learn more at a timeline on movie censorship: https://www.aclu.org/files/multimedia/censorshiptimeline.html

Learn more: Frank Walsh, Sin and Censorship: The Catholic Church and the Motion Picture Industry (1996)


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