Salient: Victoria University Students' Paper. Vol. 28, No. 3. 1965.
A Binding Precedent
A Binding Precedent
Students are a vociferous lot—sometimes. When you have the case of African natives and apartheid, or South Pacific people and bomb dust, you can be sure they will unpack their banners and start walking.
No one's been doing any walking for New Zealanders lately.
Perhaps they have in mind the words of Jimmy (Look Back in Anger) Porter—"There aren't any good causes left now."
Or perhaps they don't know where to look.
For the past three months, a firm of importers, Hicks Smith and Sons, have been trying to do one small thing.
All they want to do is import a book. Surely not a difficult thing? Trouble is, they're agents for the wrong edition—at 16/- you can buy it in any bookshop, at 5/- in Penguins you can't.
This, because the Minister of Customs condescende to let the hard-bound, but not the paper-bound edition into the country. Rather a new aspect of censorship surely — that the binding of a book can be morally corrupting.
The way Hicks Smith sees it, if you can sell one edition, why not another?
How the book came into the country at all is rather illuminating. Under the Indecent Publications Act a book is innocent until it is proved indecent. Accordingly, only the books considered by the Tribunal and banned are legally banned. Any other Customs ban must be taken to the Tribunal.
Mr. Shelton announced that the hard-cover edition would be released, but the paperback would go to the Tribunal. A nice little Government-created monopoly here. A strange example of outdated thinking, and another example of the devious workings of a most unsatisfactory Act.
Yet not a sign of protest from any of our self-appointed guardians of liberty. When it comes to ourselves, we aren't really interested. We save our banners and marches and protests for the causes where someone else has done the thinking for us.
Meanwhile the affluent, as a minor dividend for paying their taxes and not asking too many questions, read a book denied to those whose only crime is their lower income.
Another strange note in the long history of Lady Chatterley.