4: Article excerpts, “‘God of Vengeance’ Players Convicted,” May 24, 1923.
This excerpt comes from an article published in The New York Times on the day after the cast and producer of Broadway’s English-language performance of God of Vengeance were convicted on obscenity charges. It details the proceedings in the courtroom leading up to the jury’s decision and explains the legal reasoning behind the charges. (Rows of asterisks represent the end of an excerpt—the excerpt that follows each is from later in the article.)
Suggested Activity: Have students read and discuss the article in small groups. They may read either these excerpts, or the entire article, which may be downloaded as a PDF and printed from the website of The New York Times here.
Then, divide the class into two groups—one representing the prosecution and the other representing the defense. The prosecution’s job is to argue that the play and its performers should be subject to obscenity charges. The opposing team's job is to defend the play from these charges. Ask each group to prepare an outline of its argument.
Then, ask groups to present their case for or against the play to the class. In their presentations, they may include arguments by a laywer, testimony from witnesses (which the "witnesses" may base on their own imaginative looks backward at history, as well as background knowledge they may have gained of the play from items like the article in the Morgen zhurnal or David Mazower's oral history), and evidence (which may include lines quoted from the play).
Source: Anonymous, “‘God of Vengeance’ Players Convicted: Jury takes ninety minutes to find 13 guilty of presenting an immoral performance” (The New York Times, May 24, 1923), digitized by ProQuest Historical Newspapers, <query.nytimes.com/mem/archive/pdf?res=9C05EFDB1730E333A25757C2A9639C946295D6CF>, accessed February 3, 2018.