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An attack on pornography should be directed toward the merchants

To the Editor:

Eric Berman's column ["Viewer's rights," Jan. 30] totally missed the point of the pornography debate. Most of his argument centers on the impossibility of weeding out "sick people" and preventing "a potential rapist" from viewing a pornographic film.

A potential rapist doesn't need any lessons in how attack and degrade; all he needs is the hint that it might not be all that bad because "other people do it." I am not terribly concerned about sick people. It is pornography's effect on the rest of us, whom society and the law accept as normal, that worries me.

Pornography is a noxious substance which, like cigarette smoke or caffeine, is hazardous to the quality of life. Since its effect is mental (or spiritual) rather than measurably physical, the extent of the damage is harder to show.

Think of Mein Kampf, the novels of Harold Robbins, or The Thunderbolt, Georgia's white supremacist newspaper. After viewing such material you are diminished, less of a person than you were before. At the very least you have wasted your time on a fantasy that is, unlike Ikiru or The Magus or King Lear, not life-affirming.

I believe the best objection to pornography the feminists have raised is this: what sort of outcry do you think would ensue if blacks or Jews or Orientals were the specific targets of pornography? How long do you think someone could peddle "entertainment" supporting the ideology that members of a particular human subgroup are inherently masochistic, made to give pleasure, and wholly definable in terms of their physical appearance and performance in the bedroom?

I'm not terribly flattered by the contrasting one-dimensionality of males in pornography, either.

Such a merchant would be subject to denunciation, refutation, and perhaps even a lawsuit. Yet porn merchants are able to thrive to the tune of billions a year because their product is perceived as still within the bounds of normality, if not good taste.

Mr. Berman is concerned about "invasion of innocent people's privacy." What he must understand is that when we pay to see a pornographic film we support an industry which survives partly through sexual inequality.

In a society which still does not extend equal economic opportunity and reward to women, "starring" in a porn film is not too different from wage slavery. I submit that fewer women would opt for the easy money in porn acting if they had access to secure and fulfilling employment.

I'm not for censoring anything. I don't see this as a First Amendment or civil rights issue. What we need to kill is the market, not the supply. If the money supply dried up, the merchants would move to other profitable ventures, like dealing drugs or shipping guns.

I would like people to choose freely not to patronize porno films. The way to attack pornography is to keep making noise about how stupid, pointless, and boring it is. My little brother thinks people should be required to watch pornographic films, which would destory the mystery and titillation so we could get on with the business of living.

In the meantime, ask yourself why MIT students would wish to screen or see such a film. Curiosity? Go to the West End Pussycat Theater. The thrill of forbidden pleasure? Grow up. As for the sponsors of the film, they're out to make a buck on our weakness, insecurity, and lack of knowledge. Why give them the satisfaction?

David J. Loftus->