The Tech - Online EditionMIT's oldest and largest
newspaper & the first
newspaper published
on the web
Boston Weather: 36.0°F | Partly Cloudy

Porn policy misses the point


Porn policy

misses the point

The Academic Council's decision to adopt yet another pornography policy reveals its continued insistence upon limiting constitutionally guaranteed rights and skirting the fundamental issue of sexual harassment. The original pornography policy was intended to eliminate the Lecture Series Committee's Registration Day pornography films -- this has been accomplished. The only other violations of the previous policy were committed mainly for protest and would probably not have occurred if a policy had not existed.

The Academic Council feels that the new policy, like the previous one, prevents sexual harassment. But the council has never defined precisely what it means by harassment, and its policy wrongly implies that harassment may include the act of showing a pornographic film in and of itself. Such a policy should rightly be challenged.

Currently, a proposal for a sexual harassment policy is on the table. The administration would do better by abandoning the specific issue of pornography and instead focusing on what exactly constitutes harassment and how it should be prevented in general. Rather than provide empty gestures about how it is opposed to sexist behavior, MIT should install well-defined procedures for filing harassment complaints and keeping them on record.

By insisting on regulating speech which the government is prohibited from restricting, MIT has set a terrible precedent for dealing with future problems involving behavior some groups might find "inappropriate."