Educational Pornography?

The Kerfuffle at Maryland

This commentary contains material that may not be suitable for children.

Women's groups are going to have their work cut out for them at the University of Maryland. So will the health clinics and campus police. They're going to be busy cleaning up the mess if the school decides to give a green light to showing X-rated films on campus.

Last spring, Maryland students planned to screen a triple-X-rated film at the student union. When State Senator Andrew Harris heard about it, he threatened to cut off the school's share of state operating funds. Good for him!

The school canceled the film, but defiant students showed a portion of it anyway in a lecture hall where they did not need permission from school authorities.

Many students are portraying this as a case of academic freedom. And the Washington Post agrees. The newspaper mocked Senator Harris for wasting the school's time. But it's just possible that Senator Harris knows a lot more about the consequences of viewing hardcore porn than does the Washington Post.

In CitizenLink, writer Daniel Weiss describes pornography research conducted by Dr. Victor Cline. Cline found that "once addicted, a person's need for pornography escalates both in frequency and in deviancy."

Weiss writes that the porn viewer gradually becomes desensitized, no longer getting a thrill out of what he's viewing. Ultimately, he is driven to act out his fantasies on innocent victims.

Weiss notes that doctors have found that porn addiction is similar to cocaine addiction in the way it affects the brain. And because pornographic images are permanently stored in the brain, researchers believe that it may be harder to break an addiction to porn than to cocaine. Many of us remember where a porn addiction led in the life of serial killer Ted Bundy, who acted out his fantasies on more than 30 women and children.

Porn use is also closely related to family breakdown. And yet, Weiss notes, the porn industry been extremely successful in convincing "a large segment of the population that viewing porn is not just harmless fun, but is also a fundamental right."

Maryland Senate President Thomas Miller urged the University of Maryland regents to come up with a policy regarding what films may be shown on campus. One idea being bandied about is that any new policy include an "educational component."

I agree. Before deciding on whether or not to drench students in pornography, the school should invite porn researchers to talk about the damaging effects of porn use on the brain. They should invite the FBI and the Center for Missing and Exploited Children to talk about the strong link between porn viewing and sex crimes.

Women's rights groups should expose the porn industry's "free speech" argument, and how viewing porn this way leads to violence against women. The school might even invite theologians and philosophers to explain to students the difference between a worldview that values and honors women and children-and one that views them as objects of lust and violence.

If they don't-if the school enthusiastically embraces porn-then the campus police, women's center, and health clinic will, tragically, become very, very busy.

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