Review of Reviews,  18 (1898), 162.

The Police and the Press. Scotland Yard Censorship




Publications abstracted:

University Magazine and Free Review


Sex, Morality, Monographs, Freethought, Psychology, Sexology, Textbooks, Government, Crime, Mental Illness, Gender, Medical Practitioners, Publishing

    Reports that the 'general public' have been 'startled' by the news that 'for selling a scientific work, which he did not write and did not publish, and for which he was in no way responsible, the police were prosecuting Mr. George Bedborough', and warns that 'so far as the facts have been stated to me, the action of the police seems calculated to bring into the gravest discredit the cause in which they are supposed to be acting'. After all, the book in question, Henry H Ellis's Studies in the Psychology of Sex, 'was not proposed to be sold for general circulation. Every copy supplied to booksellers was labelled "This book is a scientific work, intended for medical men, lawyers, and teachers. It should not be placed in the hands of the general public". I have read the book, and no person who reads it with an impartial mind could come to the conclusion that it was published with the intention of corrupting the morals of Her Majesty's subjects'. Although it 'may be alleged that such problems should not be discussed, and that the whole question should be buried in impenetrable silence', the 'answer to this is that if the legislator makes one theory of the Psychology of Sex the basis for passing a law which sends citizens to penal servitude, it is impossible to shut out such a theory from public discussion. Dr Ellis' inquiry goes to the very root of the theory upon which one section of the Criminal Law Amendment Act is based, and if the conclusions at which he arrives are sound the principle of that legislation is unsound, and will have to be modified, for the same reason that capital punishment is never enforced upon persons of disordered minds'. Notes the 'general contention of the medical profession, which is that, if the sale of such a book as Dr. Ellis' justifies the wholesale seizure of every book on the premises of any bookseller, the sale of medical works will be very much restricted', and cautions against 'the sudden extension of the police censorship to the realm of scientific discussion'.

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