Salient: Victoria University Students' Paper. Vol. 27, No. 7. 1964.
Letter to the Editor
Letter to the Editor
'On The Waterfront'
Dear Sir,—It seems that your correspondent Bill Alexander supports Penelope Houston's appraisal of Elia Kazan's "On the waterfront." Miss Houston is a member of the editorial board of "Sight and Sound," the British film magazine, and as such, toes the party line which "Sight and Sound" has had towards all of Kazan's films and to "On the Waterfront" in particular. In their survey of the 1954 films their comment was: "On the Waterfront" . . . undoubted but spurious talent. The general opinion was that Kazan's ethic was savagely right-wing and Lindsay Anderson in particular detected fascist implications in the last sequence.
Mr. Alexander favours a religious interpretation of Brando's agonised walk down the quay, i.e.. "... a new purged Brando leads the men to work in defiance of the gangster unionists." Father Barry says over Dougan's body, "Every time the mob steps on a good man it's a crucifixion." Thus Terry Malloy is crucified to atone for the sins (apathy) of the group.
It seems to me that this interpretation reads too much into the material. "If Terry don't work we don't work"—the other wharfles realise that Terry has been carrying on their fight for them. "If Terry walks in we walk In with him"—one can detect a strong atmosphere of shame in their actions. In this proposal they have not, as Anderson has suggested, given Terry the opportunity ol a show of strength in order that he may become their new leader, rather they are urging Terry to lead them into work as a token of their recognition of his efforts on their behalf. "Work—he can't even walk!"—Johnny Friendly's challenge reduces things to a personal level and Terry's walk can be regarded as his ultimate triumph over Friendly and his gang.
It may be that Charlie's murder earlier in the film was the final straw and this one Incident was the sole cause of Terry's testimony on the waterfront rackets before the Commission, but I think that this is not the case, as there are many signs of Terry's moral awakening before this incident, e.g., "Everybody's been yelling at me about conscience." "Charlie, it's not as simple as I thought.
Indeed, Kazan, aided by Brando's consummate performance, has presented a subtle and uncompromising study of the moral awakening of a sensitive bruiser against the background of waterfront conditions. I think that there are deeper things involved here than mere technical brilliance, as Miss Houston would have us believe, but it is undoubtedly true that at the technical level, "On the Waterfront" remains an impressive and exciting visual experience.
This, however, is not the issue at stake.
R. G. Benson.
Sirs.—The following is a transcript of a letter I sent today to Mr. Max Riske after reading Salient Number 6:
|1.||I did not say that I personally thought you were a Communist.|
|2.||The remark I did make was doubly qualified, in each case toning down the statement as printed.|
|3.||I did not state that an article I had seen was (a) published in the PPTA Journal; or (b) "the basis for my assertions" as Salient maintains.|
|4.||The comment as printed is given a false slant by being almost completely removed from its context.|
|5.||I am genuinely delighted to know that you oppose the views some people believed you held.|
|6.||I personally believe that as a Christian and (adopted) New Zealander. I must oppose Communism at every opportunity, but apologise unreservedly for my error in your case.|
David R. J. Baird
There is a very delicate line between calling a person a Communist and saying other people thought he was a Communist. We suggest that Mr. Baird's elephantine tread could not but rupture anything delicate in this connection.
If Baird did not say He thought Max Riske was a Communist, why did he introduce the subject at all? If, as he claimed later, he merely wanted to replace Max Riske with Armour Mitchell as a speaker at Grad. Dinner, again why did he drag up Riske's political affiliations?
Finally, we are disgusted with the face-saving tactics Baird has resorted to. President Blizard and Helen Sutch, who were at the meeting, have confirmed that Salient s report was accurate. How then can Baird maintain it wasn't (clause (3) of his letter)? Most damning of all why didn't Baird mention these inaccuracies When he Read the Report before it was Printed?
Your editorial comment on Catholic Student Guild retreats is libellous.
Cicero said "Nosco te"—this is the purpose of retreats. Self-knowledge and integrity are essential qualities in anyone who attempts to solve either small or "vaster" universal problems.
You should take Cicero's dictum to heart, sir and realise that prejudice and ignorance are not the hallmarks of responsible editorship.
B. J. Riordan
Executive Says Facts Wrong
Dear Sir,—In your editorial on May 4, 1964, the Executive of the Association was accused of various acts of "suppression." As these charges were considered by some Executive members to be unfair and serious enough to warrant a reply, it was suggested that I should comment on your editorial in my capacity as Publications Officer.
You had suggested that the Executive had tried to oust the Mormons. Yet, on June 27, 1963, it was actually resolved "that the Mormon Church be granted the use of the Memorial Theatre" (see Minutes of June 27, 1963).
Also on June 27, 1964. a motion, "that the Mormon Church be sponsored" was defeated: the general feeling which led to the defeat of this third motion was the desire that all religious groups should be treated equally, so that no preferential treatment (whether by way of financial sponsorship or otherwise) should be given to any particular body. It is admitted, however, that on July 22, 1963, certain Executive members endeavoured to move "that a strong motion of censure be sent to the Society for Student Rights which sponsored a visit of the Mormons . . the censure motion (which was directed at the Society and not the Mormons) arose because of the belief that the Society was giving the Mormons indirect financial support even though it probably had no genuine interest in that religious body. This attempt at censuring the Society was, however, lost.
On the matter of hypnotism, I invite your readers to refer to the Executive Minutes of September 30, 1963, where it was resolved "that the Executive notes with interest the activities of this (proposed) club (on hypnotism) and looks forward to receiving its application for affiliation, this to be accompanied by professional evidence as to the safety (of the activities of such a club)." To the best of my knowledge no attempt has since been made actively to introduce such a club to the campus. Implicit in the resolution was surely the understanding that an existent ban on the club would be uplifted as soon as application for affiliation was made, and such application was supported by evidence of competent, professional guidance being available. Wherein lies the justification for your assertion that Executive policy was to oust "anyone interested in hypnotism"?
Thirdly, your allegation that Mr. Blizard was censured in his absence needs serious qualification. It is submitted that Mr. Blizard was present at all material times of the investigation, from 5.15pm to 6.25pm (see Minutes of November 18, 1963), during which time he was given opportunity to defend his case. He left voluntarily at 6.25 in order to keep a prior engagement: his departure was not a protest against The manner in which the inquiry was being conducted. A reference to the Minutes would furthermore show that the discussion which took place after his departure concerned the form in which the motion of censure should be recorded rather than the verdict on Mr. Blizard's alleged actions.
Another particular allegation your editorial contained was that "we must not mention sex . . ." On the question of sex, the Executive has made only one statement. On April 22, 1964, it was passed "that we request Salient not to publish the account on contraception from the Consumers' Council"—by a narrow majority of one. The motion amounted to a request and no more. You were free to disregard it. The motion certainly cannot be called an "act of suppression." (See Minutes of April 22). As regards your further charge that "there have been ' attempts to censure Salient, I submit that your charge was groundless. Criticism has been levelled at Salient in Executive meetings; but there was never any attempt by the present Executive to censure Salient or any of its staff.
Finally, it is not denied that the Executive censured the persons holding mock-religious ceremonies.
If such irresponsible action were to arise again, the Executive might even consider the expulsion of such people from the University. Surely no one would care to dispute the presence of this constitutional and moral obligation on the part of Executive members to see that the reasonable limits of student behaviour are observed. Condemn that constitutional power, perhaps, but not the parties implementing the disciplinary power thereby conferred upon them. Had the Executive refused to take action, it would have been guilty of failing to discharge a moral and constitutional burden.
Your editorial, charged with emotionalism, made amusing and entertaining reading. The knowledge that so many innocents might take your word for gospel compels me to make this reply. As to the big question mark featured in your headline, "Have we lost our freedom," I suggest to your readers we have not, yet. Inaccurate journalism would, however, soon see that we get a positive answer to your query. It is sincerely hoped that you would publish this letter and endeavour to correct any misapprehensions which your editorial, possibly written in the heat of the moment, might have planted in the minds of your numerous readers.
B. T. March,Publications Officer. (Abridged—Ed.)
The facts Mr. March has provided show that Executive did not prevent the Mormons from using the Little Theatre, but they do not show that members of the Executive did not try to achieve this. As Mr. March must be aware, at least one Executive member stated that he was opposed to the Mormons being allowed to come to the University at all. There was certainly a feeling that the Mormons were undesirable, and the eventual decision of the Executive to support them was in spite of the attempts of certain members to keep them out.
On the matter of hypnotism he says "an existent ban on the club would be lifted ..."
Where did this ban come from? I suggest that the action in banning the hypnotists in the first place was the result of a group of individuals who, quite without any justification, consider themselves to be the moral guardians of students.
So the minutes show that the discussion which took place after Mr. Blizard's departure was confined to the wording of the motion. Apart from the obvious suggestion that one cannot decide the form of a motion without altering its meaning. I would suggest that the minutes do not show any such thing. I suggest that anyone who cares to read them will conclude, as I did that the two motions of censure (you only refer to one) were passed while Mr. Blizard was absent. Whether or not Mr. Blizard was present, the Executive had no right to censure him for expressing his political views in an accepted democratic manner.
The Executive was not bound to censure the people responsible for the so-called "Black Mass." The Executive has the power to prosecute any student for almost anything, but this does not confer on them any duty to do so. We must condemn people who use constitutional means if they are wrong, just as we cannot accept the plea that the Nazis were only obeying the orders of Herr Hitler when they slaughtered the Jews. The principle Is identical.
Mr. March's letter deals almost exclusively with the official statements of Executive as a body. My editorial was, however, aimed at certain members only—people I believe have shown themselves to be unfitted to hold any responsibility for the destinies of students The minutes of meetings do not record the full details of their activities—they are, after all, only a record of motions tabled.
Quality Of Salient
The quality of Salient has declined. One compares the large band of reporters on Salient's staff with the narrow range of subjects which appear issue after issue, and asks whether this is a reflection of the reporters' interests or of general student apathy?
The quality of Salient has declined. No doubt advertisements are necessary to help meet publication costs, but must they comprise a quarter of the paper? (re May 4th). We would like to see a Salient issued perhaps less frequently, but with more stimulating articles.
We suggest a Roving Reporter to bring together general student opinions and problems; news of club activities, as we cannot join all in which we are interested; and original contributions.
The ratio of advertising material to editorial material in Salient is quite low compared with any other publication which attempts to make a profit.
Many factors have forced us to have smaller Salients recently, mainly factors beyond our control. Issues 4, 5 and 6 came out over a space of only 3 weeks.
Thank you for your suggestions. But as usual a full staff list does not mean a considerable working staff. Perhaps you could help us gather news of the events and opinions in which you have an interest.—Ed.
The proportion was approximately a Sixth of the paper.—Advt. Mngr.
In future we will not print letters of more than 400 words—Ed.
While "Procesh" is still fresh in our minds, some thought should be given to one of its least desirable aspects. I refer to the public beerdrinking display put on by one truckload of students. I cannot see what purpose this "float" was meant to serve and I fear that most onlookers would have regarded it with similar lack of enthusiasm.
On capping day the public is prepared to extend the bounds of its tolerance and watch, even enjoy, whatever the students turn on lor them, provided that it is reasonably clever or humorous and not downright obscene, but there was nothing even remotely clever or humorous about this drinking exhibition.
If students want to celebrate graduation in the time-honoured way what is wrong with the pub, graduation ball or private parties? Why do some have to attempt to prove that they are no longer children by showing off their capacity for beer to the entire city?
The bad taste and lack of maturity displayed by the few would scarcely warrant comment if it were not for the damage it could do to the public usage of the university. Many people are very willing to condemn students in general as a pack of beery sots, and this sort of exhibition seems to justify their opinion.
In the interests of preserving good public relations let us exclude this element from next year's "Procesh."
G. F. Thompson