The Tech - Snowy Online EditionMIT's oldest and largest
newspaper & the first
newspaper published
on the web
Boston Weather: 25.0°F | Light Snow

An Objectivist denies pornography results in harassment of women

To the Editor:

In my mailbox on the morning of Jan. 28 I found, much to my dismay, a copy of a letter from K. K. Skiffington to The Tech which later appeared in print on Feb. 8. What was disturbing about this letter was not the irrelevant arguments presented, but the vicious libel accusing me of no less than male chauvinism and rape.

I must endeavor to clarify my position on these issues.

I am a firm believer in the philosophy of Objectivism as presented in the writings of Ayn Rand. The term opinion has negative connotations due to the fact that most individuals form opinions on the basis of a selected portion of the available information. Once formed, any data to the contrary is rationalized away.

An Objectivist, however, considers all available information on an equal basis, and his opinions are subject to change if he discovers conflicting data.

On the basis of interviews with female producers and actresses, I concluded that participation in pornographic films is voluntary, and that no rights are violated in production. After reading Linda Lovelace's Ordeal, however, I realize that this is not necessarily true and I must retract that statement.

I certainly do not believe that women enjoy such exploitation; the atrocities committed in the making of Deep Throat are impossible to rationalize away. The individuals responsible for violations of this nature should be subject to the maximum penalty of the law.

Nevertheless, I still maintain that sexually explicit films made with the consent of everyone involved do not violate any civil rights.

In an effort to demonstrate the irrelevance of the claim that "pornographic movies result in increased sexual harassment," I stated that I have never committed an act of violence against a woman after watching one of these movies. This is not only my opinion, it is a fact: an Objectivist does not perform an action which initiates the use of physical force against another individual.

Chauvinism, harassment, and certainly date rape are completely inconsistent with my nature. My statement does not imply that others conduct themselves in the same manner.

It could as well be argued that men must be forbidden from any activity which results in an increase in the level of androgens (male hormones) because it is a physiological fact that higher levels of testosterone cause increased aggressiveness in rats. Fortunately, humans can control emotions through the use of reason.

I suggest two courses of action for Skiffington: (1) read Ayn Rand's essay "Censorship: Local and Express" in Philosophy: Who Needs It (1982, pp.172-188); (2) think about whether or not she has ever wished that others be prohibited from some activity simply because she is offended by the idea.

It is a sad state of affairs indeed when an individual must resort to personal attacks and character defamation to express her views in place on rational argument.

Russell Karlberg '87->