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Senate Douses Hot Movie Fun at UMd


Senator Andrew P. Harris, left, and Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller, Jr., discuss an amendment that would block funding to the University of Maryland if it screens a pornographic movie. (Glenn Fawcett/Baltimore Sun)
Tickets were selling like hotcakes for Saturday night's showing of a "XXX blockbuster" at the University of Maryland's student union. (Pirates! Skeletons! An orgy of belly dancers!) Then, like a douse of cold water, the state Senate stepped in.

During debate today over the state budget -- an exercise usually devoid of sex appeal -- a conservative senator focused his colleagues' attention on plans to show Pirates II: Stagnetti's Revenge, a hard-core porn film, at the state's flagship university.

The award-winning sequel is almost two and a half hours' worth of, uh, swashbuckling.
The cast is full of actors whose names are registered trademarks. The film is full of special effects. To say the least.

Legislators were not impressed.

Sen. Andrew P. Harris (R-Baltimore County) called it "shocking" and offered a budget amendment: Any public university that allowed the screening of a triple-X film would forfeit state funding -- about $424 million next year, in U-Md.'s case.

Administrators pulled out. They canceled the movie.

Operators of the mostly student-run Hoff Theater said they weren't trying to spark controversy when they selected Pirates II.

The 550-seat theater has found it increasingly difficult to compete with DVD rentals and illegal downloading and usually shows art and foreign films. Students have been wanting to show a triple-X movie for some time, said Lisa Cunningham, the theater's program director. She said she was waiting for the right one.

"I thought it would be something fun to program toward the end of the semester, to give a little stress break for students," Cunningham said. She also invited someone from Planned Parenthood to talk before the movie about safe sex. (The pirates don't wear condoms.)


It wouldn't be the first time; in the 1980s or '90s, she said, there was a soft-core series called "Take it Off at the Hoff." Several years ago, they showed "Deep Throat" to a sellout crowd. More recently, some doctoral candidates held a film series looking at ways that Elizabethan plays have been referenced in hard-core movies: They called it Shakesporn.

"Pornography is not fun. It's poison," said Harris, who told his colleagues that he is the father of three daughters, the eldest of whom is a college senior.

Debate over Harris's amendment unfolded in fits and starts, largely because a series of elementary school groups spent time watching the action from the Senate galleries.

Another senator was pressing Harris about why his amendment did not apply to double-X or single-X films, when Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. (D-Calvert) noticed a group of 3rd graders had arrived from his legislative district.

"Can we move to another amendment?" Miller said. And, then: "We welcome the students from Plum Point Elementary School."

As debate on another matter wrapped up, Miller sought to advise the youngsters on what they were seeing.

"We're waiting for you to leave the room," he said from the rostrum. "We've got to talk about bad stuff."

Later, another senator was reading from a study asserting that watching pornography increases men's anger at women who flirt but refuse to have sex. A group from Hollywood Elementary School in St. Mary's County then arrived.

Behind the scenes, conversations ensued between a university lobbyist, College Park President C.D. Mote Jr., University System of Maryland Chancellor William E. Kirwan and other officials.

Before a vote was taken, Miller had one more announcement about the issue: "I've been informed that the University of Maryland has cancelled the peformance in question."

Harris withdrew his amendment, and Miller left the chamber to field questions from reporters. "Cooler heads prevailed," he said. "The university said, 'We're going to X-out this movie.'"

By Anne Bartlett  |  April 2, 2009; 4:52 PM ET
Categories:  General Assembly , John Wagner  
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I see no problems with adults watching this film. It makes no difference where the film is shown. Maybe someone should remind the legislature about the 1st amendment. Then since there arrogant and ignorant they should be forced to forfeit their pay for the year. I could care less what their personal feelings are. They can save that for their children.

Posted by: askgees | April 2, 2009 5:21 PM | Report abuse

Pretty silly. Especially since there is formally no such thing as XXX ratings (or even X ratings, anymore). This whole excuse of a discussion hinges on legislators who have not yet come to terms with the likelihood their college age daughters are sexually active.

Grow up, Senators.

Posted by: RealityCheckerInEffect | April 2, 2009 5:49 PM | Report abuse

It seems to me the Universities showed Deep Throat way back in th 70's with no big deal at all. I guess it is sign of the times that it is controversal to have public showing of adult movie but the hedonistic pornography of Enron, AIG, sub-prime mortagages, hostile takeovers etc caught on as the 80's reaction to the free love of the 60's.... free love followed by free market!!! Like we are just emerging from another parallel universe all the sudden and wondering WHERE AM I, What happened???

I mean freelove/free market and make up for Vietnam with Iraq??? Sorry the young generations have to go through senseless reactionary cycle before we can put the solar panels back on the White House...

Posted by: cgillard | April 2, 2009 5:51 PM | Report abuse

Sen. Harris is a Republican

Posted by: willdbrown | April 2, 2009 5:52 PM | Report abuse

The Calvinists and Puritans are on the rampage once again.

What next, even more Prohibition?

They just slapped a $20.00 tax on my $14.00 can of roll-up tobacco.

All I can say is "wait until 2010 and unelect every last one of them".

Posted by: thardman | April 2, 2009 6:30 PM | Report abuse

...I'm missing is it that "cooler heads" prevailed because one dumb senator threatened to pull a half-billion dollars of funding from UMCP because it was going to show a porn movie on campus, and then the campus administrators actually folded over this?

That's financial blackmail, not "cooler heads prevailing".

Posted by: dubya19391 | April 2, 2009 6:42 PM | Report abuse

Actually, they showed Deep Throat a couple of years ago and no one raised a peep. Does the state legislature really have nothing better to do with their time? Don't we have a budget hole to fix? Oy vey.

Posted by: EricS2 | April 2, 2009 6:49 PM | Report abuse

Oh, come on now its college. If the kids aren't doin it in the dorms at least let em watch a little porn on the big screen.

Posted by: megaphone | April 2, 2009 7:28 PM | Report abuse

Ummmm arent there laws preventing them from curbing free speech on college campus?

This seems very Unconstitutional to me... Perhaps the folks in MD should do something about it... Like stop voting for these same idiots that are hell-bent on controlling your life and society in general..

Posted by: indep2 | April 2, 2009 7:58 PM | Report abuse

I think the legislators pulled a boner.

Posted by: Bitter_Bill | April 2, 2009 8:13 PM | Report abuse

This was all about wannabe Congressman Andy Harris positioning himself for the Family Research Council to fund his next run against Rep. Frank Krativol in the 1st Congressional District in 2010, just like the Club for Growth funded his run against Wayne Gilcrest.

Posted by: johnnyspazm | April 2, 2009 8:15 PM | Report abuse

What a stupid waste of time. Apparently this movie is making the rounds of university theaters; I read an article about it playing at a California school. It's just a way for the kids to have a little fun. Since they're all adults they have the right to watch whatever they damn well please without some idiot politician getting his delicate panties in a wad over it.

Some of these guys need to remove the poles from their nether sphincters and get a life.

Posted by: xenophile | April 2, 2009 8:17 PM | Report abuse

Hmmm...lots of posters here are complaining about First Amendment rights and free speech. I wonder what their reaction would have been, not to mention the reaction of the individual freedom-loving campus community of UMCP, if the Hoff had been planning to screen a documentary by David Duke and Stormfront, or perhaps "Hillary The Movie," or even "Ronald Reagan Rendezvous With Destiny?"

Yes, I am sure that they would be equally outraged by the intrusion by the Maryland Senate.

Posted by: hisroc | April 2, 2009 9:01 PM | Report abuse


The Nazi movies are not even an applicable comparison (except maybe if it was "Ilsa She-wolf of the SS", look it up, bizarro stuff) and I am sure the Campus Republicans or other such groups could screen the Hillary movie or the Reagan movie with little fanfare or problem.

Posted by: unrest | April 2, 2009 10:19 PM | Report abuse

Young adults just having a little fun and blowing off steam.....

Cmon Annapolis, do you guys really need a pathetic PR stunt? Reality checker is absolutely right, grow up.

Posted by: croftonpost | April 3, 2009 1:26 AM | Report abuse

Since when do politicians have the right or the power to tell us what to do?

The last time I checked, they work for us... not the other way around.

I think most of the country is at the point now, that they are seriously considering an Armed Revolt against our own government. If these politicians (and yes I know it was the school... So there is no difference) dont wake the F Up... There will be some serious hell to pay over the next 4-6 years.

Posted by: indep2 | April 3, 2009 11:28 AM | Report abuse

Plain censorship.

Posted by: bravo2 | April 3, 2009 5:18 PM | Report abuse

"Actually, they showed Deep Throat a couple of years ago and no one raised a peep."

That's because before it was shown, the audience had to sit through an academic panel that raised much a peep about pornography and the adult film industry. It was presented as an educational event. This movie wasn't going to.

Posted by: cprferry | April 4, 2009 1:21 PM | Report abuse

I'm a student myself and I understand what it means to employ freedom of speech. Freedom of Speech meant so much to those who need to have a voice; for those who had to battle to be heard in desperate situations. What battle are we choosing to fight in this very moment? Loosing funding vs. a pornographic film...Is it really worth the fight?

News headlines all across the world flash images of people spiraling out of the control they once had and becoming suspects of sexual assaults, rapists, serial killers and etc. Even here on campus the minds that have been sickened by the enviornement of the lack of moral standards are raging out of control, threatening to terrorize; and you never know who the suspect or the victim will be. Once someone is caught shows like 20/20 capture a glimpse into the past life of these sick-minded people and there is always one commone thred; their madness being turned on by pornography and other fantastical things that lead them to their first negative encounter.

We have got to understand that although pornography may be meant to entertain a mature audience; some of us are not mature enough to handle the psycological doors that pornographic images open up. This is all personal and an individual problem until someone, right here on campus begins to spiral out of control and become perverted in a way that endangers him/her self and puts others at risk. Students may do it in their own time but for the university to engage in promoting this kind of perverted behavior, how can we expect the sex crimes that happen in connection to campus not to? We are breeding perversion by showing this film.

We have our rights, we have our freedom but when will we begin to set moral boundaries for ourselves. Sex is something to enjoy on a private basis and Pornography has tore our lives apart.

Posted by: ETERNANDA | April 6, 2009 12:13 PM | Report abuse

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