Pornographic Pirates aren't debatable
Last Tuesday, November 15, Graduate Student Assembly (GSA) President Brian Fifarek sent an e-mail to the leaders of the Activities Board and AB Films demanding that all advertising for TBA be taken down and that showing pornography on campus be banned.
But frankly, it shouldn't be banned. Plain and simple: Disallowing pornography screening is censorship. Whether or not certain members of our community want pornography to be publicly screened should have no bearing on its status as a symbol of freedom of expression.
Fifarek made a critical misstep in bringing his personal opinion into his argument; although he claimed to speak for the GSA executive board, few members were ever consulted. Fifarek isn't the only one to do this, either: It seems that when it comes to TBA, those who think themselves morally superior want to decide what is best for our students. But judging from the enormous lines outside McConomy on Sunday, the student body has already spoken.
The University Policy on controversial speakers also rings true in the discussion as well. ?Freedom of thought and freedom of expression cannot be influenced by circumstances. They exist only if they are inviolable. They are not matters of convenience but of necessity. This is a part of the price of freedom.?
Even if pornography is allowed, though, there are those on campus that argue Student Activities fee money should not be used for showing or advertising pornography. But before we resort to the fallback argument of "My student activities fee shouldn't go to activity X," is Student Activities money even being used to fund TBA?
First of all, the ticket revenue exceeds the costs of showing the film, so only the film-watching students end up paying for it. Additionally, this year?s film rights were not bought with Student Activities money, but rather bartered for by agreeing to post websites on advertising posters.
Furthermore, each student pays his or her $80 Student Activities fee either with the expectation of receiving at least $80 worth of benefit from it. One student may not benefit from the Asian Student Association, but may benefit from Scotch ?n? Soda. Each student utilizes their fee in different ways, making a dollar-by-dollar analysis of "where my money is going" unrealistic.
Were the funding body of Student Senate to pull money from every morally debatable activity, you might be surprised at what would go missing. Last year, for example, there were those who argued that the Vagina Monologues should not be funded because of its portrayal of a young girl in a lesbian sexual relationship, which has been criticized as glorifying statutory rape.
The biggest issue at hand, is whether or not student money should pay for such graphic advertisements. It's true that this is the first year the name of the movie, as well as suggestive images from it, have been advertised in advance. But why did it even happen? What happened to the posters from last year that were intentionally innocuous, solely stating "TBA" with the date and times, and no indication of content?
While a full-size poster of a busty blonde in a corset may not be in the best of taste, we cannot overlook the fact that it's within AB's rights to advertise their movies as they see fit. There's no policy for this; but in the future, it'd be nice if AB could use a bit of taste in their judgements.
The bottom line is that while the advertisement of sexually explicit material is something that needs to be reviewed, pornography on campus falls under the protection of freedom of expression and speech. If you aren't interested in watching it, it's your choice not to pay the entrance fee. However, being subjected to tasteless advertisements is not within your control, and in the future, AB should carefully consider what kind of message it will send before it puts up posters and flyers for TBA.