I did not make that point with a view to provoking a withdrawal. I merely wanted to take it as an example of the particular mentality that we have had in this debate. The essence of this whole Parliamentary scheme is that people in a calm and decent way should be enabled to say what they think and have a debate which would not involve that kind of criticism. We are not a judicial body and we cannot come to a determination in that sense. I would not vote for this motion because I do not believe it is true, and certainly I have not any evidence from what has been said here that it is true. There have been all kinds of extravagant statements. I know the country pretty well and I have heard a good deal of bad language in English and in the purest of pure Irish. It has been said that certain remarks would not be made at an Irish fireside. I think it is true to say that the conversation at an Irish fireside would not consist for the most part of extracts such as Senator Sir John Keane read out. With regard to what has been said about women, there is an old Irish saying and perhaps some of my friends may remember it: "Digh gach dighe drochbhean." The worst of all bad things is a bad woman and it is generally true in Irish-speaking districts that when a woman has a bad tongue she has the worst tongue of all, so there may be some people who use that particular kind of language. But it is not correct, I think, to censor a book merely because one feels that it is not doing justice to a particular district or a particular class of person. It must be obscene within the meaning of the Act. Whether that book is or not I am not able to say. I have not read it and I have no intention of reading it.
I should like to express agreement with the statement of the Minister for Justice that the Act has proved most valuable in keeping out a number of very objectionable periodicals. The question of the censorship of books is a much more difficult question. I should be very reluctant to give any added powers with regard to books. It is a strange thing that people who advocate liberty in one way are sometimes quite silent when rights of another kind are being trampled upon. It is also true that when people advocate, as Senator Foran suggests, more and more censorship, one never knows where they are going to stop. I remember when at a particular moment a very considerable class of people in the country thought that a public representative who held the particular views I hold should not be allowed to speak in the country at all. That was a particular kind of censorship to which a particular answer, and a very effective answer, was made. I deprecate the suggestion that the only method by which the Irish people can be kept right is by putting more and more shackles upon them. There is no doubt that there is a class of book which should not be allowed freely to circulate. The trouble is to find a definition which will give you power to ban that particular kind of book.
I should like also to remind Senator Sir John Keane that the word "Rabelaisian" as applied to what he read out is very much a misnomer. I used to be very familiar with Rabelais, but the word "Rabelaisian" is used nowadays to express a meaning altogether vulgar. Rabelais was a great writer, writing at a particular moment for a particular public, and he was something very much more than merely vulgar. A great deal of what is now called "Rabelaisian" has no claims whatever to be literature but is merely indecent. As far as we are concerned, all our efforts to protect our young people may very well prove to be a failure because we are living at a moment when the world is growing every day smaller and smaller, and when this country is becoming less and less isolated from its immediate neighbour, England, and its much more remote neighbour, America. If we want to protect our young people I think we shall have to take a great many more positive steps and not so many negative ones. Since we cannot remove them from certain dangers, we shall have to aim at strengthening their minds, improving their education and turning their attention to occupations of a healthy character, improving their outlook culturally and religiously, and striving to equip them in such a manner as to make them immune from certain diseases when these diseases come their way. I think on that basis we can do much more than simply by making regulations.
There is at the moment in existence, or there was before the war, an international agreement with regard to certain publications of a pornographic or indecent character. It may very well be that one of the results of this war—one never knows—will be an international agreement on censorship of some kind. It might not satisfy us but it would certainly go a certain distance. I deprecate the attitude of the extremists who want to show that our young people have a different outlook from the young people of other days. I can appreciate the point of view put forward by Senator The McGillycuddy, but I do not understand the view of Senator Sir John Keane, and of certain other people, that somehow or other we are in a new era, that the young people of to-day have a different point of view to that of their forebears, and that there is a difference with regard to indecency, obscenity and immorality. I think that obscenity and indecency in literature go back a very long way. There is very little new under the sun.
As far as we are concerned, I think we should refuse to pass this motion. For my part, I should like to refuse to vote on it because it invites me to do something which I am not competent to do—to declare that the Censorship Board has ceased to retain public confidence, or in the alternative, by another kind of vote, to say that the board retains public confidence. As far as this debate is concerned, I think no proofs have been given and that, in the nature of things, no proofs could be given which would satisfy in that regard. Having said so much, I feel that the most effective way to do something positive for our young people is to ensure that they are occupied under good conditions at proper wages and that they will get such an education as will enable them to use their leisure in a proper manner. A person of that type is much less subject to the evil influences of any kind of publication than an idle person who has little or no education.