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Sex, Senators and Stupidity

By Eva Rodriguez

Chalk this up as a win for Cowardice on Campus.

Maryland Sen. Andrew P. Harris (R-Baltimore) hears that an XXX-rated movie is scheduled for screening at the University of Maryland. He threatens to introduce an amendment to the state budget that would cut off public funds to any university that showed a XXX-rated film. And University of Maryland administrators quickly put a halt to the screening.

Never mind that no taxpayer dollars were involved. "Pirates II: Stagneti's Revenge" had been provided free by the film company. It was to be shown at the student union's student-run theater, which is supported by student dues. And students who wanted to see the film had to pay for tickets.

Look, there are plenty of sensible criticisms of pornography: It dangerously objectifies women and promotes casual and potentially dangerous sex, just to name a couple.

But lawmakers have no business dictating what’s clean enough for college consumption. Have we so quickly forgotten "Lolita" or "Ulysses," which for years were banned as prurient and obscene? What's to stop Harris or another distraught lawmaker from setting their sites on today's great, but controversial, literature or art? What's to stop an ultra-liberal lawmaker or an aggressively politically-correct organization from demanding that conservative or religious speakers be disallowed? Who's going to stand up for the rights of a right-to-life group to show an anti-abortion film?

This episode of censorship is particularly offensive because it occurred in an educational facility that should be fostering, not stifling free speech and the free exchange of ideas. I heartily concede that "Pirates II" isn’t likely to prompt the kind of debates that a "Schindler's List" or "The Godfather" would -- but you never know. Planned Parenthood had been slated to give a presentation on safe sex just before showtime. And students offended by the film would have been free to stage a protest, if they liked.

I would have thought -- and hoped -- that college officials would be on the front lines protecting the very integrity and independence of their institutions and encouraging competing points of views. Sad to say, we can't count on that kind of wisdom or bravery from the folks in College Park.

By Eva Rodgriguez  | April 3, 2009; 1:46 PM ET
Categories:  Rodriguez  | Tags:  Eva Rodgriguez  
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Comments

setting their sights*

(I thought this was a newspaper...)


"...the front lines protecting the very integrity and independence of their institutions and encouraging competing points of views."

Precedents aside, does triple-x porno really comprise the integrity of this institution? What 'points of views' are being silenced here?

Posted by: nrao3 | April 3, 2009 3:04 PM | Report abuse

Pornography IS sexual harassment.

Courts have repeatedly rcognized that displays of pornography in the workplace are de facto sexual harassment.

Drunk, sexually aroused, College Men watching public porn....

What could POSSIBLY go wrong ?????

Posted by: JaxMax | April 3, 2009 3:07 PM | Report abuse

This article repeats the tired old counter-cultural canard that unless society protects a full range of "expression"--no matter how degrading or widely offensive--then legitimate expressions of religious conscience or political speech will be eliminated. The argument is simply untrue: this country enjoyed almost two centuries of well-protected religious and political speech before sexually-explicit "expression" came to be ill-advisedly included under the umbrella of "freedom of speech."

Posted by: DCLawyer3 | April 3, 2009 3:28 PM | Report abuse

"Drunk,sexually aroused College men watching public Porn"...what do you think these guys watch on their computers in college dorm rooms all over America? Highest usage of Porn found in Southern "Red" states. Utah leads the nation in purchased porn, you know that state of strict, upright conservataive Mormons.

Posted by: logcabin1836 | April 3, 2009 3:42 PM | Report abuse

I agree that lawmakers should keep out of academic issues. Nevertheless, I doubt your assertion that no public funds were used to promote or allow the screening of the movie. Perhaps student fees paid for the theater rental, but student fees are paid by students, some of which will no doubt be using federal grant and loan money to pay those fees. Furthermore, fees are often supplemental and university funding provides support to student groups. In all, I think the decision to screen was bad judgment, but the means by which it was reversed is symptomatic of legislators sticking their noses where they don't belong.

Posted by: bend1 | April 3, 2009 3:44 PM | Report abuse

Maryland Senator Andres P. Harris illegally stifled free speech and trampled the US Constitution. He should at least face censure, if not impeachment proceedings.

Our country has become far to forgiving of Government official's misconduct. Even though Harris may have meant well, his actions display disdain for the Constitution and the rights of his constituents.

Posted by: mike85 | April 3, 2009 4:14 PM | Report abuse

Get over it everybody. Pornography, legal pornography is just another situation of free will. People who indulge in it do it by choice. People who act in them, do it by choice. People who direct them, do it by choice.
Stop pointing the finger to resolve problems. People have always had undesirable tendencies. They always will. No one is making you watch it, if you don't want to, then don't.
Vices don't hurt people. People hurt people. No matter what law you put in place, THIS WILL NEVER CHANGE!

Posted by: RareCaliConservative | April 3, 2009 4:15 PM | Report abuse

Lawmakers spend so much time on trivia and stupid matters. Why do we elect these people?

"Barbie" bill; outlaw maps so terrorists can't get them; change MD state song - offensive lyrics; Utah bill that makes restaurants have a ten foot wall around the spot where they mix their drinks so chlidren don't see them; government regulation on the way games are rated, etc. Too numerous to name.

Of course, we deserve this for electing these clowns :).

Posted by: rlj1 | April 3, 2009 4:22 PM | Report abuse

Isn't it a mixed message to have Planned Parenthood present a 'safe sex' message, then show a movie depicting, if not glamorizing, unprotected sex?

It's kind of like showing an anti-weed commercial followed by a commercial for Wellbutrin.

Posted by: distance88 | April 3, 2009 4:31 PM | Report abuse

Please correct me if I'm wrong, but hasn't the Supreme Court stated that there has to be some "redeeming social value" in such presentations. I fail to see such value in a porn flick (no matter how much money and technology they used in making it).

We have the exact same situation here in Boulder at the University of Colorado. No one in the legislature has made a peep yet, but that might be because Ward Churchill just won his case...

Posted by: Robert_B1 | April 3, 2009 4:57 PM | Report abuse

"I heartily concede that "Pirates II" isn’t likely to prompt the kind of debates that a "Schindler's List" or "The Godfather" would -- but you never know."

Ummm, you never know whether or not the sun will rise in the east tomorrow either. Does that mean we should prepare for a shift in the gravitation of the planet? Does anyone really expect an intellectual discussion to break out as a result of this movie?

Posted by: Robert_B1 | April 3, 2009 4:59 PM | Report abuse

"I heartily concede that "Pirates II" isn’t likely to prompt the kind of debates that a "Schindler's List" or "The Godfather" would -- but you never know."

Don't be stupid.
Or at least try not to sound so stupid.

Posted by: fishcrow | April 3, 2009 5:04 PM | Report abuse

Sen. Andrew Harris (R) - you are my hero !

The Maryland state legislature should immediately reduce funding to the College Park campus - no discussion - no debate under any circumstance.

Posted by: hclark1 | April 3, 2009 5:05 PM | Report abuse

Hey eva, since all things sex are just a big walk in the park, how about you pay for the support of all the children born to unwed teens; how about you pay for all Americans' SDD treatments; how about you pay for the millions of abortions performed every year.

It is assclowns like you who like to yuk up all things sex, then expect the MORAL MAJORITY to pay for the mess.

Posted by: 2xy4k9 | April 3, 2009 5:13 PM | Report abuse

In general the comments here are very sad, coming from people who probably think they are Americans.

Posted by: lowercaselarry | April 3, 2009 5:19 PM | Report abuse

Lolita was never banned in the US; several publishers refused to publish it but eventually it was published and pretty quickly became a best seller. Copies were seized in England, and the French banned it, but it is erroneous to suggest that underwent the same circumstances in the US as "Ulysses."

Posted by: jhtlag1 | April 3, 2009 5:24 PM | Report abuse

After first reading about this, I was only extremely disappointed in the lawmakers that threatened to take action against a public university. Afterall, a university should be an open forum for discussion, not a place of censorship. The government threatening to censor anything is a scary idea.

However, now, I'm exetremely disappointed in the university for not fighting against the lawmakers. Like it or not, a free society does not stay free for long if its citizens/institutions aren't constantly fighting for that very freedom. You only have rights if you use them, otherwise freedom is just a misperceived reality.

I know the lawmakers are only doing what they believe to be right, but pushing a moral code onto a society that is based on freedom of choice is simply wrong.

Posted by: tm28 | April 3, 2009 5:35 PM | Report abuse

This movie is available in an R rated version at Amazon.com, you can rent it from Netflix. I doubt Sen,. Harris or most of the posters here know anything about the actual movie other than it has an X rating. But I have always wondered what it is that freaks poeple out so much about sex that they don't want others to know anything about it. It's your problem, keep it to yourself and your Psychiatrist.

Posted by: KennyBoy | April 3, 2009 5:41 PM | Report abuse

"Never mind that no taxpayer dollars were involved."

Except in building and maintaining the facility where the film was to be shown.

I think a reasonable distinction can be drawn between an adult film (The Cook, The Thief, His Wife and Her Lover or Tie Me Up, Tie Me Down, for example) and porn. The former is suitable for public viewing at a public university. The latter, not, except in someone's dorm room.

BB

Posted by: FairlingtonBlade | April 3, 2009 5:49 PM | Report abuse

"Utah leads the nation in purchased porn,"
Yes, and so densely populated too!

Posted by: JRM2 | April 3, 2009 6:08 PM | Report abuse

If the purpose for the University is to educate students then what are they thinking?, that they would "educate" students on how to demean Women?

Couldn't they find another movie, or did it have to be triple X?

Hey, if you want that kind of thing then there's an adult video shop somewhere in your vicinity and DVD players are really cheap these days.

Posted by: JRM2 | April 3, 2009 6:14 PM | Report abuse

the university of California Davis already showed the same film in the student union.
ever been to a film set? seen how many technicians are on set? for big budget films there are hundreds.
the actors really must act, for porn it is especially hard to create believable elements of fantasy and reality that are believable.
as a genre of film, porn should be shown and discussed by adults in the very academic environment proposed by the university.
that said on its very face the budget admendment is illegal as it violates free speech rights.

Posted by: JudgeAlan | April 3, 2009 6:45 PM | Report abuse

Ah, all you would-be censors out there ...

It's a Free Speech issue -- period.

Whether you like the "material" or not, all the rationales for PROHIBITING the showing fail measured against the 1st Amendment. Issues on pornography are settled law.

Again, it is a Free Speech issue on which the law has already settled repeatedly.

That it occurs at a PUBLIC institution does not rule against it on the "tax dollars" canard (what a disingenuous stretch of an "argument"), but actually supports the showing.

Expressions of Free Speech in the public square, i.e., the U. of MD, are protected by both the U.S. Constitution and subsequent Supreme Court decisions devolving therefrom.

So far, the ONLY pornography not protected is child porn -- rightfully so, as it protects minors from sexual exploitation. Adults, however, are free to be "exploited" as they wish.

Free Speech. In the "public square". You may not like the content, but it's the 1st Amendment, so Know It, Learn It, Live It.

Posted by: phoenixresearch | April 3, 2009 8:28 PM | Report abuse

Free speech, my behind. No one prevented anyone from watching a stupid skin flick. They just decided it's not happening under the auspices of a taxpayer-supported university.

Posted by: capsfan77 | April 3, 2009 8:55 PM | Report abuse

And I find it amusing that the author of this opinion piece is actually comparing the works of Vladimir Nabokov and James Joyce to a porno flick.

Posted by: capsfan77 | April 3, 2009 9:03 PM | Report abuse

Phoenix - I think we can safely add snuff films to the list. Not to mention real torture. Bestiality qualifies as well. Oh no.....

....I'm falling down the slippery slope!

BB

Posted by: FairlingtonBlade | April 3, 2009 9:28 PM | Report abuse

Andy Harris has a long history of making an idiot of himself in Maryland. He's an arrogant physician who thinks he knows how you and I should lead our lives, and wants to impose his world on us.

He snatched defeat from the jaws of victory in last fall's Congressional election.

Posted by: ghostmoves | April 3, 2009 11:27 PM | Report abuse

==============
==============
"Sad to say, we can't count on that kind of wisdom or bravery from the folks in College Park."

No, you mean Annapolis. The folks in College Park are the victims. If they had shown a dirty movie, they would have lost all state funding.

Frankly, I agree that they should have stood up to this and said "That's unconstitutional. We're showing the movie." But they're not the bad guys here.

As usual, the 'uglicans are. You know them: the old white men who figure they can do whatever they want to whoever they want because they're rich and powerful.

Yeah, them.

THEY'RE the bad guys here.

--faye kane, homeless brain.
Read more of my smartmouth opinions at http://tinyurl.com/fayescave

Posted by: FayeKane_HomelessSmartypants | April 3, 2009 11:54 PM | Report abuse

==============
==============
Someone posted:
> Pornography IS sexual harassment.

No it's not, you IDIOT. Saying "Gimme a BJ or you're fired" is sexual harassment. Dragging girls into the bushes is sexual harassment.

It's crazy harpies like YOU that make the stupid people think the REST of us Liberals are idiots too. That's how the 'uglicans manipulate them and win elections.

> Courts have repeatedly recognized that displays of pornography in the workplace are de facto sexual harassment.

So what? Do you think they pay these kids to watch the movie?

> Drunk,

Well you don't have to worry about "drunk"; you Nannies of the Public Morality raised the drinking age to three years higher than the "kill Iraqi citizens" age.

> sexually aroused, College Men...

"Sexually aroused college men"!

She says it like it's a BAD thing! HEY: are sexually aroused WOMEN bad, too? If so, put me in Guantanamo with the rest of the people who didn't do anything wrong!

Yeah, let's pass laws to keep college guys from getting sexually aroused!

THAT would be enough to make me vote repuglican... if they weren't the Mafia.

And even if it could, which it can't because of internet porn:

ARE YOU CRAZY??

Do you want to give the government THAT kind of power over other peoples' emotions?

And what happens when the Islamic Student Union complains about a political movie? You gonna put THAT down on your "list" too?

And what about the equally-crazy bible thumpers who outlaw dancing and kissing in public? Do THEY get to put films on your list too? Or do the Feelings Police only prevent other people from watching stuff YOU don't like?

> watching public porn....
What could POSSIBLY go wrong ?????"

Well, having once been one of the vulnerable girls at the University of Maryland who you're so worried about, I'd say:

COUPLES WATCH IT TOGETHER IN THE THEATER, YOU HORRIBLE OLD MONSTER!!!

--faye kane, homeless brain.
Read more of my smartmouth opinions at http://tinyurl.com/fayescave

Posted by: FayeKane_HomelessSmartypants | April 4, 2009 12:21 AM | Report abuse

==============
==============
Another idiot wrote:
"Please correct me if I'm wrong,..."

I will be DELIGHTED to!

> but hasn't the Supreme Court stated that there has to be some "redeeming social value" in such presentations.

No, in fact they did NOT. They said that such material must not be patently offensive by the standards of the community in which is shown.

The "community" in question is the University of Maryland Campus.

Need I say more?

...Oh, but I will ANYWAY!

You're thinking of where the Court said that even if the material **IS** patently offensive by the standards of community, that if it has redeeming social value, that it can be shown ANYWAY.

--faye kane, homeless brain.
Read more of my smartmouth opinions at http://tinyurl.com/fayescave

Posted by: FayeKane_HomelessSmartypants | April 4, 2009 12:30 AM | Report abuse

==============
==============
Another wrong person said:
"I find it amusing that the author of this opinion piece is actually comparing the works of Vladimir Nabokov and James Joyce to a porno flick."

No, he said that people like YOU treated the works of Vladimir Nabokov and James Joyce like a porno flick.

--faye kane, homeless brain.
Read more of my smartmouth opinions at http://tinyurl.com/fayescave

Posted by: FayeKane_HomelessSmartypants | April 4, 2009 12:40 AM | Report abuse

" What's to stop Harris or another distraught lawmaker from setting their SITES (sic) on today's great, but controversial, literature or art?"

SIGHTS not SITES.

Posted by: Gatsby1 | April 4, 2009 4:27 AM | Report abuse

Homeless is as homeless does.

Posted by: capsfan77 | April 4, 2009 8:22 AM | Report abuse

Our children are in a downward spiral in there ability to compete in the job market and our schools are more concerned with turning our young men and women in sexual deviants. I guess since we cannot compete, we might as well go back to the oldest profession in the world. No wonder companies outsource, so much for HIGHER education.

Posted by: etrain364 | April 4, 2009 4:11 PM | Report abuse

Sex, Senators and Stupidity

Actually, there is a time and place for everything under the sun to be real. Therefore, I see no problem with congress involving itself with instituting agendas to control sexual content in whatever places that they warrant deemed. The world needs to be mindful that guidelines should be exercised that would warrant the best for any given situation. We need to prepare our generations for a more productive future with respect, decency and the ability to rise above in every way possible. To fall prey to such which is not productive would only pose another stumbling block for the well intent of our society.

Posted by: Nisey01 | April 5, 2009 11:34 AM | Report abuse

I just find it interesting that with two wars going on and the economy in a down spiral, people losing jobs, healthcare that doesn't cover everyone, cuts in education at all levels, et al, the students at the University of Maryland, College Park (my alma mater), have decided this is the issue to protest on.

When you decide to run a XXX film at a public university where most of the students have mom and pop paying the bill or on loans/grants from the government, then you can expect public outcry. It's one thing to have as part of a class content with meaningful discussion, it's another to just show it as entertainment.

Posted by: baltimoremom | April 6, 2009 9:34 AM | Report abuse

Mixed emotions here.

Yes, politicians should not use their influence over college institutions over a porn movie.

Flip side: Its (presumably, as I did not see it) a porn movie.

I hardly think its raises to the act of rallying around the constitution to protect some young adult's rights to sexual fantasies.

Posted by: kban495 | April 6, 2009 1:34 PM | Report abuse

After calling me an idiot, FayeKane corrected my misconception. Thank you for doing so, but I would much rather you had been more polite about it.

FayeKane also wrote: "The "community" in question is the University of Maryland Campus."

I think the fact that the community would support the public showing of this film says volumes about the University of Maryland. Are there any adults in charge over there, or have the horny teenagers taken total control? I wonder how their parents (you know, the ones who are in most likelihood paying the tuition bills) feel about this...

Posted by: Robert_B1 | April 6, 2009 4:29 PM | Report abuse

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