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X-rated movie not degrading

To the Editor:

I would like to congratulate LSC for their tasteful handling of the showing of the (delayed) Registration Day Movie.

The well-chosen film was very amusing -- humorous and satirical. The semi-comic acting was decent considering the dubious plot. The old, expensively set film included the aesthetic scenes artfully woven into the effective cinematography. There were even occasional philosophical discussions.

Misty Beethoven was not "degrading." The characters behave as if they treat sexual matters lightly (and this is frequently exaggerated into parody). People were manipulated, sometimes sexually, but this happens in reality and is a part of daytime soaps, classic novels, common gossip, etc. There certainly was a diverse range of sexual behaviors and emotions portrayed.

I do not see why the movie was not approved. Those who condemned the film are comprehensible to me as proselytizing, prudish and/or religious fanatics; or sexist-feminists, who think a film with submissive or abused females shapes people's minds, or who see and portrayal of lustful, wanton sex as anti-female, or anti-human.

These things are sometimes, for some people, part of life. Sometimes, some people enjoy watching these films (including, once a term, many MIT men and women). Most of those people are normal.

I thought The Wall painted a far more negative picture of women than did Misty Beethoven.

The harassment suffered by the handful of women who have been abused after the showing of a sexually explicit movie in Kresge Auditorium is terrible. Movies that might encourage harassers can be moved farther away from the residences of the harassed.

It is wrong to ban information (films, books, street pamphlets, T-shirt messages) because it provokes someone (which, except in the already mentally-damaged, I do not think that explicit films do).

Everything is inflammatory to someone.

Should Taxi Driver be banned to prevent triggering future Hinckleys? Everything will make some group complain. But should German House prevent the showing of World War II films? Should atheists stop the Ten Commandments?

If a pro-Nazi recruitment/public relations movie drew an audience of people who freely chose to see it, it should be shown. It should be shown above the protests of those who dislike it (including myself). I of course am free to picket (but not obstruct), poster, and protest. But I cannot use force, nor can the government -- state, federal, or MIT-use agents of force (police), or deny access to normally available facilities to stop the film.

In fact, even when the government acts with the approval of 99 percent of the citizens, government (and all those individuals who form and support it) cannot stop the dissemination of information.

Should anyone ever violate the rights of others, i.e. initiate force against them (so much as trespass or disturb the peace with noise), the victims can and ought to use the law to defend themselves. But up to that point, their rights are not violated.

Even if I am deeply offended by something, I cannot claim that those who make, distribute, sell, or seek it out are initiating force against me. It may be causing stress, angering or frightening me, but no one can stifle another's words or images ever, nor stop any action so long as it does not initiate force against someone.

If a homosexual or interracial couple walks down the street holding hands, it will probably offend some people (in our culture at the present time). That is their problem. The couple is minding their own business, doing what they want to do. It doesn't matter what anyone else thinks of it (except when running their own lives).

Similarly, actors voluntarily make films seen voluntarily by viewers. (If Lovelace was forced to make a film, she can severely punish her tormentors). Most actors have free will and act in (what they think is) their own best interest.

If you get upset at what the actors do, at the values and ideas that you see in the movies, or at those who see the movies, that's your problem. Don't censor the films, books, behavior, etc.

David A. Honig '86->