Abdicating Responsibility

PORNOGRAPHY is more than "bad speech," as Alan M. Dershowitz, professor of Law and Stork's and Hagen's attorney, said Friday. It is a $4 billion industry that causes and perpetuates violence against women, as well as dehumanizing stereotypes of men and women.

With this in mind, we do not excuse the showing of Deep Throat as a test of First Amendment rights. Anyone who decides to show a pornographic film has decided, in effect, to support the pornographic industry, and the violence against women which is its main expression.

Even after the district attorney advised Stork and Hagen that they would be arrested, the students still had no justification for showing the film. By courting a First Amendment confrontation, Stork and Hagen chose the easy way out. Rather than face the important issue--should the film society support the porn industry--they ducked into the constitutional shelter. A student organization is not simply a business it has obligations to the community it serves. In refusing to take seriously the decision to show pornography, film society officers relinquish their claims to our sympathy on grounds of unfair censorship.

Quincy House Master Charles W. Dunn also shirked responsibility by failing to represent the significant, though lesser, number of House residents who did not want the film screened in the place where they live. He should have taken a stand against the showing and encouraged fuller discussion of the issues involve. For example, neither Dunn nor any of the cinema guild's members considered that direct violence to a woman occurred during the production of Deep Throat--that Linda Boreman Marciano was actually raped in the film.

While the students had the right to test their constitutional safeguard of free expression, they were wrong to use it. The kind of reasoning that accepts pornography for want of money, because people want to see it, because we have the legal right to--only contributes to the increasing violence against women in America today. This reasoning abdicates personal responsibility--the moral imperative that is the most reasonable restraint on the first amendment.