October 06, 2004

Yay! A Column on Porn!

Before we dive headfirst into this week's empty pool, I want to explain that last week's column was so short because it suffered from what journalists call "115 missing words." To check out the unfiltered version of that column, get online and visit http://ianmcgibboney.blogspot.com/2004/09/what-is-louisiana-smoking.html.

At least the fine folks at the Vermilion didn't publish the conservative column under my name again like they did on Sept. 3, 2003. I spent that week trying to convince people that I never called for anyone "to be castrated with a dull butter knife and then hung in public." But hey, accidents happen, right?

Speaking of accidents, two years ago I was in Stephens Lab visiting a Web site that featured funny photographs. The site also occasionally showed hilariously unsexy nude pictures, and at one point I accidentally clicked on one. I immediately backtracked--yuck!--but it lingered there just long enough for a Stephens Hall administrator to walk by and boom, "Son, this is a public lab and you are not allowed to view material of that nature!" Fortunately for me this didn't happen recently, because the university would have stuck me in therapy.

Last week's Vermilion featured a story on the pornography policy at UL computer labs. Almost everyone quoted in the story claimed that pornography is a sickness. But like anything else, it can be used or abused. The article seized the valid issue of public displays of pornography and twisted it into a call for its restriction simply because some people cannot handle it.

Please understand, I wholeheartedly agree that some sites should be off-limits in a public lab. Nor should child porn or any other coerced nudity be legal viewing anywhere. But UL is really overstepping its bounds by requiring disciplinary action and counseling for this kind of computer solitaire. Here’s a few blunt facts about erotica:

1) Pornography has health benefits. Is there any safer form of sex than masturbation? And is there any safer forum for indulging sexual fetishes? Plus, it’s a cheap date!

2) No one HAS to view pornography. It's just like anything else; if you don't like it, avoid it. Likewise, no one has to pose for it either. The degradation debate ignores the fact that we’ll always objectify those we find attractive. It's how we're wired. And don't forget that, in all legal porn, the models have agreed to pose and are paid generously for doing so. It's all about personal choices on both sides of the lens.

3) The link between porn and violence is, well, flaccid. If you're at home with a magazine, then you are not hurting anyone. Serial killer and rapist Ted Bundy, who blamed his crimes on porn, probably didn’t benefit from growing up thinking his mom was his sister and never forming any real friendships. For every porn-loving rapist, there are a million people who enjoy the same images and live decent lives. You're sitting next to one, if in fact that doesn't also describe you. Show me someone who has never viewed pornography and I'll show you a liar.

The problem is not that the person is viewing porn, but that they lack the self-restraint and intelligence to do so in privacy. If that’s causing a disturbance in the computer lab, then boot them out. But we should be well past the point where we send people to shrinks for the heinous crime of desire.

If campus officials are looking to combat a problem, might I suggest tuition hikes? How about drainage? Or campus safety? No one enrolls in a university to be told that they are sick people. We’re all adults here, so grow up!

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