- Written by Peter Burnett Peter Burnett
The Trials of Oz by Tony Palmer is as much history as it is literary curiosity. In fact until such time as we return to upholding prejudicial and Victorian attitudes to print and sexual culture, it will only get funnier.
That the judge in particular is prone to question the meaning and relevance of so many things and labels homosexuality for example as a perversion, is simply antiquated. In the teeth of so much evidence, much hypocrisy is revealed.
The character list includes John Mortimer of course, and witnesses such as John Peel, George Melly and Marty Feldman, called to testify upon Oz's artistic merits ('if any').
The painful dissection of cartoons and adverts is difficult reading over 270 pages, simply because we're not used to having such facts as Rembrandt's attitude to lesbianism questioned, and whether something aimed at homosexuals can class a publication as 'obscene'.
But worst of all is the sophistry, which is despicable. This and the obvious fact that Justice Argyle is grossly misdirecting the jury. The Oz case is an interesting look at a rusty legal sustem falling in on itslf as it tries to prosecute something with malice, rather than public interest at heart.