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Two films:
two sides of same coin


To the Editor:

I am appalled at Ruth Perry's letter ["Love Story Screening Not Needed," Feb. 15] stating why the Women's Studies Program did not need to have the Ad Hoc Pornography Screening Committee review Not a Love Story before its showing.

Her belief is that because the Women's Studies Program is providing a "service" as opposed to "entertainment," that certain rules do not apply to them.

First of all Ms. Perry, I want you to know where I stand on the subject of pornography -- not to voice my opinion to the MIT community (I believe that as far as pornography goes, there's been way too much of that), but so that you understand where I'm coming from.

Personally, I am opposed to pornography -- I feel that it degrades both men and women, portrays human beings as little more than animals in heat, and corrupts one's views of the beauty of sexual expression.

However, I also feel that it is an individual's right to choose the lifestyle that suits him/her and if one wishes to view such films, who am I to make judgments on that person?

I feel that LSC has every right to show The Opening of Misty Beethoven (I have friends who are looking forward to seeing it, although I am not), and I also feel that you also have every right to show Not a Love Story.

My point is this: While we all have freedoms in this life, we also have rules which we are expected to follow, some without exception. I do not know whose fault it is that Not a Love Story wasn't screened before its showing (please understand that I do not accuse the Women's Studies Program or anyone else of intentional wrongdoing), but somewhere along the line a rule has been broken.

The fact is that a sexually explicit movie was shown on the MIT campus this year without prior screening by the Ad Hoc Pornography Screening Committee. Now whether it was intentional or not, a double-standard was created.

You say that the committee's authority is limited only to deciding whether or not a sexually explicit movie can be shown in Kresge. Are you implying that your intentions to show Not a Love Story in a location other than Kresge exempts you from your requirement to have the movie screened?

If so, why couldn't LSC just schedule to show The Opening of Misty Beethoven in 26-100 and not have to worry about the screening process? No, the function of the committee is to " `develop or adopt criteria for those sexually explicit films that may be shown on campus' and to review the films to see if they meet the criteria."

Whether or not Not a Love Story is being shown for education or entertainment (there are people who are "stimulated" by this movie despite its attempts to the opposite), it is a sexually-explicit movie and therefore falls under the rules set up by the ODSA.

You wonder why LSC "waited" to protest the showing of Not a Love Story. In truth, LSC is not opposed to you showing it (at least I don't think so -- I am not a member of LSC, although I have several friends who are members) -- they are opposed to the double-standard created.

They also gave notice well in advance of their intent to show The Opening of Misty Beethoven. However, through the manipulations of the ODSA, they were not allowed to show it.

The Women's Studies Program, on the other hand, showed their sexually explicit movie without it ever being screened. Why did they "wait?" I can only speculate that a few factors were probably involved.

Perhaps most of the time between the cancellation of The Opening of Misty Beethoven and the showing of Not a Love Story was over IAP when fewer students were here.

Perhaps they weren't sure if Not a Love Story had been screened or not. Perhaps they just felt that the most effective time to protest would be right before the showing, which seems to be when most anti-porn people choose to protest (I am only speculating -- I am not accusing LSC of wrongdoing).

Whatever the reason, does it really make a difference when LSC protested? I mean, does protesting against a rule being broken become wrong when the protest is done closer to the time that the rule is broken?

Consider if the shoe was on the other foot. Suppose the ODSA were very liberal and many of its members supported, and even on occasion attended pornographic films.

Now suppose that the majority of the students on campus opposed pornography and wanted it off campus, indeed out of society altogether. They had a committee formed to screen out any sexually explicit movies that they felt were not "acceptable" to be shown on campus.

Suppose a small minority of students formed a (fictitious) group known as the Student Organization for the Advancement of Pornography (SOAP), and announced its intentions to show a sexually explicit movie to "educate students about pornography and its connection to the violence of women" (after all, may people have said that they feel that the best way to be turned off about pornography is to actually see a pornographic movie).

The Women's Studies Program, intent on also showing a sexually explicit film, announced their intent as such. Before the end of the term, suppose that the ODSA had managed things so that the Women's Studies Program could not even get their film screened.

How would they feel if only weeks later, SOAP showed The Opening of Misty Beethoven, without it ever being screened as according to policy?

I admit that the above situation is not probable. Indeed, it is not even realistic, however, it is entirely possible.

There are no laws in the country that would prevent such circumstances mentioned from actually becoming reality, and yet I am sure you would say to yourselves: "Something is not right here."

Just because you (in your opinion) provided a service to the MIT community (you made people feel "sick," "upset," "exploited," "angry," "ashamed," "depressed," "confused," "scared," "dehumanized," and "exhausted"), you do not have the right to exemption from the rules.

It seems that it is you who are intent on making LSC look bad when they are only upset because they followed the rules, and were not even given the time of day. It is you that clearly resent suggestions that you broke the rules when a sexually explicit film was shown on campus this year without prior proper screening.

You notice I keep using the term "sexually explicit." Ms. Perry, you feel that no one should place Not a Love Story and The Opening of Misty Beethoven in the same category, but you are wrong. They may be opposite sides, but they are of the same coin.

John Swartz '86->