Arsenic and Lovelace


It all began when a few Quincy House women, angry at the news that the debt-plagued House film society planned to show "Deep Throat" in the dining hall, complained to House officials.

From that innocent start, the controversy has mushroomed in unending Malthusian cycles to the point where today two Quincy House juniors face grand jury indictments on felony charges that could bring them up to five years apiece in prison.

When housemaster Charles Dunn cancelled the first showing of the porn flick, most assumed the fight was over. But the film society, still hoping recoup earlier financial losses, decided to screen the movie the next weekend.

A civil court judge ruled the showing was not obscene, and Carl Stork '81 and Nathan Hagen '81 made the final decision to go ahead. While nearly 200 feminists marched outside protesting the "degrading" movie, about 100 packed the dining hall to view the X-rated classic.

But the audience also included three state policemen and an assistant district attorney who, when the first show ended, arrested the pair and charged them with disseminating obscene matter.

Alan Dershowitz, professor of Law, represented the pair in a series of courtroom appearances for the next two days, and lawyers for the Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts filed a federal civil rights action on their behalf, alleging that the district attorney's office had abridged their Constitutional rights by arresting them.

No sooner was that federal action filed than the district attorney asked a grand jury for an indictment against Stork and Hagen--a procedure reserved only for the most serious of crimes.

Indictment in hand, the district attorney quashed a District Court trial scheduled for last week; now it appears that the Superior Court may not consider the case until next September.

Still unclear is exactly who complained to the district attorney's office and started the chain of events in motion--many have speculated that the district attorney's office acted not on formal complaints but instead on telephone inquiries about the showing.

Whatever the source of the court case, however, most involved say the issue has gone much too far. "We did what we wanted--educate people about the dangers of pornography. We never wanted to see anyone arrested," a Quincy House woman who helped organize the protest explained.