Baser Instincts
Colleges are teaching the wrong lessons about porn - An Editorial

The Washington Times Sunday, April 5, 2009
Reprinted by permission


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Big-budget porn flicks may soon be coming to a college near you.  Pornographic production company Digital Playground, Inc. is offering its award-winning 2008 release “Pirates II: Stagnetti’s Revenge” free to colleges as part of a nation-wide promotional campaign.  “Pirates II” features a mix of live-action and computer animation, and at $8 million is the most expensive feature in porn history.  The movie was nominated for 29 AVN Awards (the “Oscars of porn”), and won 14, including best director, best screenplay, and best all-girl couples sex scene.


“Pirates II” is a sequel to the 2005 feature “Pirates,” which was wildly popular on college campuses, a fact that inspired the current promotion.  The movie has played to packed houses at Northwestern University, Carnegie Mellon University, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Southern Connecticut State University, and the University of California at Davis.  A screening at the University of California Los Angeles was a gala event attended by over 1,000 students and was followed by a question-and-answer session with writer/director Ali Joone and stars Evan Stone and Sasha Grey, who between them have appeared in almost 900 productions.


The University of Maryland College Park had scheduled a screening at the on-campus Hoff Theater this weekend, but a furor arose at the Maryland state House over whether this was a proper use of the university’s name and facilities.  Senate President Thomas V. “Mike” Miller Jr. told the Baltimore Sun: “That’s really not what Maryland residents send their young students to college campus for, to view pornography.”  Lawmakers threatened to withhold millions of dollars in state funding if the school went ahead with the showing, and administrators prudently canceled it.  Yet precedent had been set four years ago when the university screened the 1972 classic “Deep Throat” to no evident protest.  The producers of “Pirates II” won the AVN award for “best over-all marketing campaign” and clearly understand that they benefit from this kind of controversy based on the principle that “all publicity is good publicity.”


Giving official sanction to pornography conflicts with the college mission of producing better citizens and promotes the idea that porn should be a normal part of everyday life.  Pornography is already more accessible today than ever in human history.  Adolescents who decades ago furtively thumbed through nudie magazines handed down by older siblings now have easy Internet access to the most profane and perverse images imaginable.  Internet porn addiction is a growing problem, and the University of Maryland Policy on the Acceptable Use of Information Technology Resources lists “obscenity” under the section on prohibited conduct.  Showing a porn film on the big screen would put the loco back in in loco parentis.


For many young men and women, the college experiences the first time they have been free of the constraints of daily parental supervision.  Young people already arrive at college with knowledge of sex.  The 2007 Center for Disease Control Youth Risk Behavior Survey reported that among high school seniors, 66.2 percent of girls and 62.8 percent of boys have begun having sex.  Births to teen parents rose 2.8 percent in 2006 and 1.0 percent in 2007.  There are an estimated 9.1 million cases of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) among people age 15 to 24 years.  For these and other reasons, college freshman orientations drill into new students the importance of responsible sexual practices, mutual respect, communication and, we would hope, the benefits of abstinence.  Young people need guidance on the mechanics of healthy human relationships, not the social protocols of pirate orgies.  We encourage other schools to pass on the opportunity to screen “Pirates II,” which by comparison makes “Animal House” look wholesome and morally redeeming.


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