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Posted at 4:06 PM ET, 04/ 7/2009

U-Md. Porn Controversy: A Wrapup of Views

By Mike McPhate

The decision by students at the University of Maryland to show excerpts of a pornography film at the campus yesterday has all the ingredients of a hot debate: sex, morals, freedom of speech and tax dollars.

In the comments sections of several articles about the controversy, many readers tussled over the definition of free speech.

Jamesb7 said, “Free speech has its limit. When its expression could potentially cause destructive harm to the society, it needs to stop.

In an online discussion with two experts on either side of the debate, one Maryland reader asked: “If a student's group wanted to show a film denying the Holocaust or taking a pro-Nazi viewpoint, would the same students be crying ‘Free Speech?’ Or does Free Speech only apply when the film is something you personally don't find offensive?”

Some readers argued that lawmakers should focus on more pressing concerns, like the economy.

“Maryland's economy is in the toilet. People are losing their jobs, their homes, etc. And all this politician can do is dream up stupid useless drama like this?” said HillMan. And in a letter to the editor, a reader questioned whether lawmakers have accepted campaign contributions from cable companies that sell pay-per-view porn.

Mqpham said lawmakers’ actions just brought more publicity for the film. “If the legislator just left it alone, it would have been just another obscure porn flick. Now it's going to be a poster boy against the bad, big brother government. I bet the producers are laughing all the way to the bank.”

In an online chat, a reader from Silver Spring asked, “Are you a Maryland parent? I am. And I find this porn-free-for-all very troubling.”

Commenter kbaxter1 said his company will no longer donate money to a university scholarship fund if students went ahead with the screening.

Nitrojunkie_20733, a University of Maryland alumnus, said the financial threats were unfair. “Think of all the benefit that UMD gives back to the community in the forms of bio tech and agricultural research as well as providing Maryland with a truly top notch business school. Does a bunch of adults watching something they're legally allowed to watch, even if some find it offensive, really merit taking away from all those good things the university does?”

Another alumnus, charlietuna666, said, “I would rather it not be known as the college that allows porn on campus. If these present students think about it a little, they wouldn't want it to be thought of that way either. Do they really want to denigrate the value of their degrees?”

Washington Post columnist Marc Fisher said U-Md. officials caved too easily to pressure from Maryland politicians. His advice: take notes from the College of William and Mary, which permitted a Sex Workers Art Show on campus last month, even though politicians and donors opposed it. (Check out a new podcast hosted by Fisher with a student organizer of the screening and a Maryland legislator who opposed it.)

Who's got it right? Share your view below.

-- Brittany Levine

By Mike McPhate  | April 7, 2009; 4:06 PM ET
Categories:  University of Maryland, schools  
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Comments

Well, boys and girls, looks like we're facing the eternal problem that people have the RIGHT to do things that are very stupid indeed:
The U-MD Student Union had the right to show the film, but it was immensely stupid to do so under those circumstances. The U-MD administration COULD have said, "Please show it somewhere else because showing this crap on campus in this manner is immensely stupid." State Senator Harris COULD have expressed his outrage, vehemently, even, but he had to make threats--immensely stupid. Ms. Eva R. was right to denounce Harris's threats, but she was immensely stupid in making first-amendment heroes out of a bunch of post-adolescent (and probably testosterone-poisoned) pinheads. Bad judgment isn't virtuous. It's stupid. Sometimes immensely stupid.

Posted by: post_reader_in_wv | April 11, 2009 12:37 AM | Report abuse

Did anyone see the 'Ted Bundy' interview with Mr. James Dobson given in 1989...?? Please watch it if you haven't...it clearly gives merit to the notion that pornography offers nothing positive in any way...only negative influence results from it. It seems that most people who need to justify their own behavior...will support the same behavior.

Posted by: AFallingCountry | April 14, 2009 12:42 AM | Report abuse

PAGE THREE,RANDOM ACTS. HOW ABOUT A COLUMN OF RANDOM ACTS OF UNKINDNESS? JIM KORICKI, ROCKVILLE

Posted by: nospinzone1 | April 24, 2009 11:32 PM | Report abuse

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