There is a scene in the film The Bad Lieutenant in which the protagonist, played by Harvey Keitel, blackmails two young women into titillating him - one of them shows her ass, the other mimes performing oral sex - while he masturbates. It is the best-known and most controversial scene in the film.
Recently, I watched the film on Netflix instant streaming. The scene had been cut out, altering the meaning of the film.
During the U.K. obscenity trial of Lady Chatterley’s Lover in 1960, the chief prosecutor, Mervyn Griffith-Jones, asked jurors to consider if it was the kind of book “you would wish your wife or servants to read.” Laughable and gross though such classism might seem now, it is still the basic premise of censorship - that there are people so superior that they can determine what books or films might be damaging to the rest of us.
Without this premise, censorship makes no logical sense. If a book or film is harmful to the viewer or reader, then why haven’t the censors who viewed or read it been harmed?
Perhaps I should be grateful that my superiors are willing to watch Harvey Keitel masturbate so I don’t have to.