Having written about the joy of parenthood, I now feel compelled to write about the joy of porn.

OK. Not exactly. But I must say I'm sorely disappointed in the Maryland senate's heavy-handed ruling this week that, henceforth, any public university that allows the screening of a XXX film on campus will forfeit state funding.

The issue arose because the student union at the University of Maryland had arranged to screen the "XXX blockbuster" Pirates II: Stagnetti's Revenge. Produced by the avant-garde artistes at Digital Playground, directed by visionary auteur Joone, and starring some of the biggest, um, talents in adult entertainment, this swashbuckling sequel to the 2005 thriller Pirates was shaping up to be a hot ticket around College Park. 

Enter the nanny state. Outraged at the idea of college students watching piratical swordplay, Sen. Andrew P. Harris (R-Baltimore County) interrupted yesterday's budget debate to introduce the aforementioned amendment penalizing porn-tolerant colleges. Faced with the prospect of losing $224 million next year, U Maryland folded and canceled the screening. 

Now, I know porn is a touchy issue on both the left and the right. And I'm sure many Maryland taxpayers wouldn't want their dollars going to fund such fare. But let us consider a few factors:

1. Activities at the school's student union are not funded with state money. And while some student union events are funded using student activity fees (which might tick parents off), the costs of this particular offering were to have been covered by ticket sales.

2. This would hardly be the first time porn popped up at the school. The WaPo reports that, some time in the '80s or '90s, the soft-core series "Take It Off at the Hoff" was shown. And before that: Deep Throat--a timeless classic if ever there was one. 

3. In conjunction with the movie, the school has arranged for a rep from Planned Parenthood to come talk about safe sex. (Alas, the pirates don't have much use for the love glove. But, really, what would you expect?)

4. Even if you completely agree with Senator Harris that porn is "poison," we're talking about college students here--ranging in age from, what, 18 to 23+--not middle schoolers. This late in the school term, it's unlikely you can find more than a couple of U. Md students who are still minors and so arguably subject to such blatant paternalism. Instead of having moralistic lawmakers financially blackmailing colleges, wouldn't it be better to allow such showings but encourage schools to organize discussions surrounding the eternal porn controversy?

Treating college students like infants is no way to convince them of anything other than the infuriating know-it-all self-righteousness of their elders. If I were a U. Md. student, I'd be hard at work planning my own mega porn screening. Some issues are worth making a stand over--no matter how bad the acting.

Now, you didn't really think I'd end without providing just a taste of the cinematic delights in question, did you?

 

For a vastly more graphic version, try the movie's website

 --Michelle Cottle