Obscenity and Film Censorship: An Abridgement of the Williams Report  

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Obscenity and Film Censorship: An Abridgement of the Williams Report (1982) is a book edited by Bernard Williams.

Blurb:

When it first appeared in 1979, the Williams Report on Obscenity and Film Censorship provoked strong reactions. The practical issues and political principles examined are of continuing interest and remain a crucial point of reference for discussions on obscenity and censorship. Presented in a fresh series livery for the twenty-first century, and with a specially commissioned preface written by Onora O'Neill, illuminating its continuing importance and relevance to philosophical enquiry, this abridged edition of Bernard Williams's Report presents all the main findings and arguments of the full report, central to which is the application of Mill's 'harm principle' and the conclusion that restrictions are out of place where no harm can be reasonably thought to be done.

Mary Warnock described Williams's report on pornography in 1979, as chair of the Committee on Obscenity and Film Censorship, as "agreeable, actually compulsive to read." ("The Williams Report on Obscenity and Film Censorship", The Political Quarterly, 51(3), July 1980 (341–344), 341.) It relied on a "harm condition" that "no conduct should be suppressed by law unless it can be shown to harm someone," and concluded that so long as children were protected from pornography, adults should be free to read and watch it as they see fit. (Obscenity and Film Censorship: An Abridgement of the Williams Report, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2015 [1981], 69.) The report rejected the view that pornography tends to cause sexual offences. Two cases in particular were highlighted, the Moors Murders and the Cambridge Rapist, where the influence of pornography had been discussed during the trials. The report argued that both cases appeared to be "more consistent with pre-existing traits being reflected both in a choice of reading matter and in the acts committed against others."




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