Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Free Speech and Porn

Since some recent lectures have been about sex and media effects i thought i'd share this story with you. The University of Maryland attempted to show a pornographic movie recently. After a a state legislator threatened to withhold funding from the University should they air the film, the school's administrators canceled the event. Student groups however protested and showed the film on their own. No university funds were used to purchase the movie or sponsor the event. This became a free speech issue for the students and some of the professors, feeling that if the showing could educate people about porn's impact on society why shouldn't the university be involved. I remember a porn movie being shown at the University of Georgia movie theater when i was an undergrad student. The event was huge and most of the audience just laughed their way through the film. I've included a link to the news story here. Be sure to watch the video as well as read the article. What are your thoughts?

12 comments:

Christina said...

So...I don't believe that it was right for the University of Maryland to give in to the marketing campaign of the production company to get the name of this movie out there and create debate to further market the movie, but I do believe that the University had the right to show the movie if they were going to use it as an educational tool. Of course this is my opinion on the situation.

It is pretty asinine to think, though, that screening a porno is going to help open discussion about safe sex. Especially when in most pornographic movies the women have sex with multiple partners and don’t use any protection. I can’t see that teaching anything. I can see a discussion occurring about how pornography relates to society and how it could degrade women. A few of the staff at the University were laughing at the fact that it was mentioned that pornography was addicting. It may not be as addicting as cigarettes as mentioned by Harris, but it does have addicting qualities to the right person, and it can create a false view of women and how they should respond sexually to men. This can become dangerous when in a college setting and alcohol becomes involved.

The University is staffed by professionals whom are supposed to be setting an example for the students, and protesting something that was to them for the principle of the matter is an example of free speech. That is what we are given in a way, free speech, but this is also a Democracy, where the majority wins and when the majority voted Harris into his position then I think the majority spoke when Harris made his comments. It is like sometimes we are okay with a Democracy, but when it doesn’t go our way then we want to exercise our free speech. Yes, it sucks that the minority can sometimes get abused by the majority, but no one can predict who will be responsible in the government to allow for a completely solid democratic foundation, but not everyone can have their cake and eat it too. What I’m trying to say is that the staff at this university should be giving a more detailed discussion on freedom of speech and teach that before allowing a demonstration of free speech that is out of context.

Cherry said...

In my opinion, no one needs to view porn to be taught about its' impact on society. I have never seen the film the university wanted to air but it seems to be more Cinemax in nature. The professors in the video made some good points, one being that it's more going on in Maryland that the legislature should be worried about. I think that it was unnecessary for the university to be threatened in that way. Any student who did not want to view the film could have simply chosen not to be present.

Personally I don't find porn addictive. It's boring because most border on the same premise. I can go weeks without watching it but to be fair,maybe not everyone has my low level of arousal.

Society is evolving at an enornmous rate and things that were once taboo are no longer. I am so bored with the shock value that people try to place on certain issues and ideas. Grow up! There are so many other things to be appalled about. The professor that stated that students with computers in their rooms were probably already viewing it, was right.

Personally, I don't see the need to view porn in an effort to discuss societal impact. Realistically very few will take it seriously and view it as a learning experience. There are other ways to view societal impact. For instance, try interviewing people who have lost jobs, wives, girlfriends and money due to their overindulgence in porn. Find sex experts or therapists for professional opinions and views.

Free speech started was created as a right of the American people to voice opinions and views without fear of punishment or retaliation. Porn is a pastime for those of us who like to watch it, a career for the actors, directors and producers who make it and a problem for viewers who can't handle the content. There are some who will let the content impact their lives in negative ways and for that, there is help, if they're not too embarrassed to seek it. As an open class project...I fail to see the point.

tFisher said...

I agree with everyone so far that is not needed for the University to show a movie of this content. Watching porn is not an educational value of any level. If people are going to watch it, let it be on their own time and efforts.

Many parents that are paying for their child's college education in this economy, or paid into a prepaid college fund for their child would most likely not support getting a porn for their young adult child's viewing. I would not want a daugther of mine to be sitting in a room of twenty or more young, horny college guys watching a porn that the University supported. As a dad you couldn't give me an educational value good enough for that setting. Talk about it, read textbooks about the history, but don't cross the line of showing it for entertainment. Did they go extreme on the threat? Sure they did, but that's fine if it prevented the start of such showings at this University.

When some of the younger adults spoke on the video I just see the new generation of kids coming up thinking everything is okay. As far as the adults/teachers that may support it, are they just wanting to be the cool instructor that everyone liked?

Come on America, keep what little morals and vaules we have left!
~Terry Fisher

sharon howard said...

Administrators of the University canceled a screening of a triple X movie, “Pirates II: Stagnetti’s Revenge” at the student union theater when State Senator Harris threatened to block the university’s $424 million state funds. Many students were outraged because they felt that their freedom of free speech and the right to set their own opinion of the pornography was violated. Thus, an alliance of student leaders rescheduled some excerpts of the movie to have a panel discussion about the movie. Many new media were there to broadcast the discussion. Many lawyers, professors, and 200 students were there to watch and discuss the excerpts in front of the cameras of the media.
In my opinion, the students’ rights were violated. The state senator was basing his opinion on a personal religious and morality issues. He tried to bully and succeeded in making the administrator postpone the movie. I am proud of the students that have the courage to show the excerpts of the movie and to discuss the movie with a panel. It was wrong to try making the whole university suffer for small group of adult students that are striving to be productive citizens and voters. The students prove that they were responsible adults that discuss two important topics, freedom of speech and an academic opinion.
My personal opinion of pornography is that the pornography gives women a degrading portrayal as a sex toy, support many sexual predators ‘belief that children are sex toys, and promote unsafe sex acts . However, my opinion is mine and that sometime we need to discuss or see what we want because it is a right.

marjorie said...

First, I think they made a big protest over something that does not seem to be a big deal. I think that since the students did not use the school's money and since it was for education purposes, that the show should have been supported and not criticized. Some people overact about the pornography being showed in a public setting, but most college students watch it anyway in a private setting. Nevertheless, I don't think the students meant anything negative by showing the movie; it was done to help others. Therefore, I think the university should have had a positive feedback for it.

Second, I really do not see how the students could tie free speech into what they did. If they thought that showing the film was not permissive, they should not have shown it. I think they might have included free speech as a defensive tool for what they did. I think they simply wanted to justify it.

On the other hand, I do think porn can be addictive. It is mostly men who become addicted to porn and establish a collection of it. However, it is their choice and their private experiences. Personally, I do think the effects of porn should be addressed publicly if it will teach people and prevent them from making mistakes or becoming addicted to watching porn.

Meryl said...

I do not think it is necessary to use a pornographic film as an educational tool. If you want to educate someone on safe sex, give them stats about STDS and unplanned pregnancies. If you want to educate on free speech, take a look back in history and educate people about leaders who were not afraid to take a stand for what they believed....do not use a porn flick to educate.
I am frustrated that these so called higer education teachers think that this was appropriate, I think it was more of a stand against government than an attempt to educate. Of course this is my opinion.
On the other hand, I do feel its a tad extreme to threaten to pull millions of dollars in funding just because the university did something like show a porn film. I feel that is a very large threat, and even after all that the film was still shown. This entire situation is one that was blown way out of proportion when it could have been settled much calmer.

mhayes said...

First of all I don't agree with the administrators for wanting to show a pornographic film at a college campus. I know the students there are either adults or considered adults because they are in college but this is unacceptable. What was the purpose behind the video anyway. I know they said in the article from the washington post that after a certain amount of time people were focused on the cause. I never saw what that cause was, unless I overlooked that. I am all for free speech and this is just going a bit far. Don't jeopordize morals for free speech. If you want to see a pornographic movie why not just go out and purchase one? I agree with the legislature that there should have been some sort of consequences for this but taking away funding is a little over the top. Why make everyone suffer when everyone would not have participated? I feel he should have had some sort of punishment for the administrators who participated. Porn is one of those things that will be debated until the end of time. Some feel like its acceptable and some feel the opposite. Don't exploit that belief. I just think however you feel keep it to yourself and off any type of educational site.

Lanna Nations said...

I don't agree with the students and administrators wanting to show a pornographic film on campus. I work at a university and yes, we encourage students to think outside the box because we want them to be innovative individuals that will greatly benefit society. However, promoting free speech by wanting to show porn to better educate themselves on sex ed is not really innovative. Let's just be honest, what about porn promotes sex ed? Multiple partners? No protection? Besides, there are just some things that might be appropriate for one setting, and extrememly inappropriate in another. I mean, would it make any sense to bring strippers in for an anatomy class?
Seriously though, this is a public, professional setting that is funded through tax payers' dollars. I'm sure that there aren't many undergraduate students out there paying for their own tuition. I do have a son and when he goes off to college I don't want to think that I'm paying tuition for him to be "educated" by Jenna Jameson.
Perhaps the university should not have been threatened to the point of withholding funding, but there should have been some consequence to this action. If we want to educate our kids/young adults on sex, then there are appropriate ways of doing so. They could have hosted a seminar on sex education and talked about STD's, pregnancy prevention,pornographic addictions, etc. To me, if you prefer to watch pornography then it should be done in the privacy of your home.

Abbi said...

This is a very interesting concept to me...show a pornographic video to teach about safe sex. I've got to be honest, when I first read that sentence about a representative was asked to speak about safe sex after the screening all I could think was that is just a cover up. The representative was asked to come to make it look like they were doing something responsible. I completely agree with Christina that pornographic films do anything but teach/show safe sexual practices.

I can understand the fact that some University of Maryland teachers and students being upset that the legislator would focus on this instead of other pressing issues, but I personally think that it was ridiculous for the university to even be suggesting something like this.

I know that the professor that was talking in the video, scoffing at the legislators saying pornography is as addicting as drugs, was just using that as a way to make the legislators bad. However, even if it is not as addicting as drugs it is addicting. Overall I think this is one of the dumbest things I have heard in a while.

Jon Goldman said...

I think it was not right that the state legislator threatened to withhold funding from the school to prevent them from showing the porn film. It was a terrible move on their part. Being that it is a public university, they have to consider freedom of speech rights more than a private university. They are supposed to be impartial and open to all types of speech. Nothing is supposed to be censored. A university is a place for discussion of different ideas. So on the part of the state legislator, I believe they were working outside their jurisdiction and were being unconstitutional.

On the other side, I don't really see how showing a porn film is educational. Maybe I'm just missing something, but I don't see how it could be considered educational. I agree completely that it is censoring their freedom of speech, but their argument that it was for educational purposes seems kinda weak.

cstone042 said...

First of all, freedom of speech should be protected at all costs. I did not walk the streets of Baghdad to look for weapons of mass destruction. I walked those streets to give the people of Iraq the same freedoms God gave to every man, woman, and child. Harris had a very good argument that taxpayer money should not be used to show a bunch of horny college kids porn, but what he did not realize is that porn is everywhere these days and people should be educated about what impact it has on society.
Harris should be removed from office for threatening to cut the Universities funding. Laying off teachers and cutting scholarships would do a tremendous amount more damage than showing adults a porn movie. I guarantee 70% of the students who screened the pirate movie have seen more than one hard core porn film.

steve said...

Personally, I'm a little disturbed about a group of adults who think that they need to sit around and watch porn in order to create a dialogue about safe sex practices. These students were acting out of pride and ego when they decided to go ahead and show the movie. Instead of stepping back and realizing that maybe they were being blocked for an important reason, they decided to go ahead anyway and at that stage, it was just to prove a point.

Just the concept of these people sitting there watching this movie is kind of disgusting. I disagree with everything porn is, and stands for. It's much more than just sex. It is morally degrading to the women involved and puts us back into the days when a woman was just a piece of meat. University students are typically more liberal and focused on moving us into the future, so it baffles me that these students took such great measures to keep us in the past.

-Steve Caldwell