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LSC Should Not Show Degrading Films

The Tech received a copy of the following letter addressed to former Lecture Series Committee Chairman William J. Gehrke '97.

I write in the hope that LSC is indeed interested in student opinion. I cannot speak for anyone but myself, but I hope that my thoughts will strike a chord in you and your organization.

The First Amendment guarantees every American the unconditional right to free speech, regardless of the popularity of the ideas expressed. It is a beautiful right and one that I would not give up for the world. Many courageous Americans have lost their lives in the name of protecting our precious freedoms.

However, with this freedom comes responsibility, without which our rights would be in severe danger. The right to free speech takes for granted that sensitivity will be displayed. It is for this reason that I respectfully request that any decision by LSC to return to its former policy of showing erotic films be modified to show sensitivity to all members of the MIT community.

Let me give an example. In the MIT Musical Theatre Guild's production of Anything Goes, the director chose to rewrite some of the script to remove parts that he considered to be racially offensive. The play was not hateful by any stretch of the imagination, but the director chose to display some taste and sensitivity.

Without the revisions to the script, people still would have paid to come see the play, people still would have laughed, and all would have been well. However, it is possible that members of our community would have been offended, and for this reason, I respect the decision to revise the script.

By the same token, I support (and always will) LSC's right, within legal bounds, to show any type of film that it finds worthwhile. However, I feel very strongly that LSC is in a position to show tact and sensitivity by choosing not to show films that degrade women.

A recent Tech column charging that there is almost no difference between erotica and pornography is, I believe, closed-minded. Dictionaries often are unable to convey connotations, which in this case make all the difference. Often terms that technically mean the same thing contain positive or negative connotations. Erotica need not be degrading or offensive, but pornography usually is.

Depicting women as cheap sex objects is legal and might be lucrative, but in the end, it only does a disservice to our society and to the organizations that promote such stereotypes. While LSC has the right to show whatever movies it wants to, I feel very strongly that it should show its pride in our community by striving to be sensitive to everyone.

Stephanie M. Zielenski '98