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CSJ Criticizes Postal Service for Stamp

CSJ Criticizes U.S. Postal Service for Choosing The Godfather as a Stamp Subject to Represent the '70s

Contact: Mark Dalessandro 202-547-8115

Washington, D.C., Sept. 10, 1998 - The Commission for Social Justice® (CSJ) has harshly criticized the inclusion of The Godfather movie as one of 30 possible stamp subjects to represent the decade of the 1970s in the U.S. Postal Service's "Celebrate the Century" program.

"We are extremely displeased and dismayed that the U.S. Post Office and its Board of Governors would choose as a category selection an item that depicts, regardless of how masterfully, an entire ethnic group as gangsters and cold-blooded murderers," said CSJ Chairman Frank J. De Santis and President Angelo R. Bianchi, in a joint letter to Postmaster General William J. Henderson.

". . . Notwithstanding [The Godfather's] technological and artistic achievements as a motion picture, its exclusive and pervasive subject matter is considered defamatory, demeaning, and disturbing to many of the nation's 25 million Italian Americans."

De Santis and Bianchi noted that other motion pictures, especially Star Wars, would have made a better selection for a stamp subject. "Star Wars, notably, revolved fundamentally around the timeless question of good versus evil, light versus dark. You will recall that the good force wins in that motion picture experience."

"Celebrate the Century" is a commemorative stamp and education program that, for the first time, allows citizens to vote for stamp subjects. The program honors significant people, places, events, and trends of each decade of the 20th century. Part of the purpose of the program is to educate U.S. school children about the history of this century.

According to a USPS news release, the U.S. Department of Education and "10 leading educational associations" are cooperating to promote the program, which is expected to involve more than 300,000 classrooms of students.

Individuals can vote for their favorite topics by using an official ballot available at all post offices or on the USPS Web site (http://stampvote.msn.com). There is no limit to the number of times an individual may vote. The 30 selections are divided into five categories - People & Events, Science & Technology, Arts & Entertainment, Sports, and Lifestyle. The Godfather is one of eight selections in the Arts & Entertainment category, which includes the TV sitcom All in the Family, the educational series Sesame Street, and the miniseries Roots.

Of the 30 subjects on the 1970s ballot, 15 will become stamps as selected by public voting during September. The top two vote-getters in each category and the next five overall will become stamps.

"We hope that voters will opt on behalf of their brighter angels and disregard The Godfather . . . We hope, on behalf of the nation's 25 million Italian Americans, that even if The Godfather stamp is selected, you will exercise the better judgment and not print it," De Santis and Bianchi said.