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Mutiny On The Bouncy

Maryland Republican State Senator Andrew B. Harris has found the perfect blackmail scheme to shut down a panel discussion event on free speech at the University Of Maryland by threatening to remove $424million in state funding to all state universities if the free speech panel discussion event took place on campus. Naturally, once this Republican thug threatened college administrators with the huge loss of state funding, they caved in to his outrageous blackmail demands. andrew harris.jpg

Troglodyte man Religious right Republicans like Andrew Harris don't want rational discussions of social issues, law and morality to take place. The superstitions they hold so dear, as well as their unscientific views are written on stone to them just as much as the Ten Commandments written by Moses himself.

After protests by students took place at the University of Maryland, a compromise was reached were the free speech panel discussion was held at an off-campus site.

The event featured a screening of the high budget adult film, PIRATES II, followed by a panel discussion hosted by the American Civil Liberties Union on freedom of expression issues. Harris refused to show up for the screening of the film event, but instead called CNN and had a debate on national TV with a Digital Playground Productions executive who produced the high budget film with a digitally generated pirate ship among other things not normally seen in adult entertainment feature films. PIRATES II has won both awards as well as praise for being such a well written and produced adult entertainment film. Adult entertainment as well as independent art house type films that simply depict scenes of consensual adult sexual penetration are not generally considered to constitute illegal obscenity and fall under First Amendment protections, so Harris lacked any legal grounds to threaten the University Of Maryland if he attempted to claim that any Maryland state obscenity laws were being violated by the showing of the film and the following panel discussion.

Besides on CNN, THE WASHINGTON POST took up this controversy as well, and Associate Professor at American University's School Of Communication, John Watson addressed some of the issues raised, "When the government, especially embodied in an educational institution, intentionally becomes an impediment to the expression of ideas, fundamental liberty is threatened". Watson also pointed out that Maryland law only outlaws illegal obscenity and not mere material that some might consider to be of a pornographic nature. Watson noted that "pornography, as some people forget, is protected by the First Amendment as well as the Fourteenth Amendment". So no legal basis existed for Harris to demand that the film and panel discussion not be held.

The fact of the matter is that both PIRATES and PIRATES II have been screened at other university campuses for the purpose of legal, free expression, social or other educational discussions such as at UCLA, Carnegie-Mellon and University Of California Davis. However, by using the hammer of financial blackmail, a Maryland religious right state senator looked for a blunt object to use to beat down an academic discussion related to educational issues such as law and society. Like any nethandral man wielding a club to murder his opponent, Harris had hoped to kill any discussion of the irrationality of laws dealing with obscenity as well as the other legal and social issues raised by controversial films like PIRATES II. The religious right doesn't like rational discussions of issues.

During the 1960's, students at colleges had to first battle school administrators during the Free Speech Movement battle to assert more freedom in publishing controversial political opinions in school newspapers. In 1973, when I attended Portland State University, and a advisor professor attempted a Gay purge from the student newspaper for fear that a Gay man might become the editor, a serious fight ensued whether someone should be disqualified from becoming the editor simply because of their sexual orientation.

The battle over the PIRATES II film discussion only illustrates that the war to protect educational freedom only continues at colleges across America and is a ongoing battle. The war for free expression and academic freedom in the United States continues.


Note: Wizbang Blue is now closed and our authors have moved on. Paul Hooson can now be found at Wizbang Pop!. Please come see him there!

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Comments (10)

John:

Senate President, University of Maryland Alumnus, Democrat Mike Miller Jr. backed Harris' amendment. Is he too a "troglodyte" or "thug"? Could you be any less intellectually honest when presenting this article without mentioning that fact?

"Perhaps no rebuke counted more than that of Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr., an alumnus and arguably the legislature's chief champion of the state university system's flagship school.

Miller (D-Dist. 7) of Chesapeake Beach told the Senate that he would vote for an amendment proposed by Sen. Andrew P. Harris (R-Dist. 7) of Cockeysville to stop state funds from going to the College Park campus or any public university that shows such a film outside of class."
Gazette.net

If a university receives funds from the state, even when there are budget shortfalls all around thanks to Governor O'Malley's spending sprees, should they not fall under the same type of "oversight" TARP recipients are now subject to?

Speaking of TARP, how do you feel about Obama blackmailing financial institutions who want to return taxpayer dollars but told "no", and that they will be subject to government mandates?

John:

Bleh, typo on the link...grrrr.

[I fixed the link, it works now - Lee]

Paul Hooson:

Hello John. It is entirely unacceptable for any politician, Democrat or Republican to threaten to remove a school's funding over any educational content.

The panel discussion which had to conducted off-campus due to the threats involved a perfectly legal film under Maryland law, and was conducted by lawyers involved with defending free speech in court cases. It was a perfectly legitimate educational event for any students involved in prelaw or film studies to attend. Further, many arthouse films such as THE BROWN BUNNY have some scenes involving sexual penetration, yet are not considered to be either pornographic or obscene in content. Only a small amount of content in a limited number of films might constitute grounds for illegal obscenity. No laws were being broken with the University Of Maryland event, yet there was the blackmail threat by politicians to remove the school's funding. It was an entirely inappropriate response by some politicians to soapbox on.


I guess we can expect to see an equal statement of indignation over the alleged 'Fairness Doctrine' here at Wizbangblue.

(cue the chirping crickets)

Mac Lorry:

Paul,

As for Miller and Harris threatening legislative action to prevent public universities from screening adult movies, well it's just politics. I expect there are many voters who don't think their tax dollars should support or even be associated with such things. Regardless of the source of their beliefs, people are entitled to hold them just as you are yours. If threatening to take a legal action is blackmail, then the American Civil Liberties Union is one of the worst offenders known.

Paul Hooson:

Hello Rodney, I oppose the fairness doctrine because government has no business telling station managers what shows to program. Station managers need to show a profit and to force radio stations to air some programs that don't draw an audience just to achieve some parity of opinions is over-reaching by government of the worst kind just as obscenity laws are some absurd program by government to police what sorts of movies are produced. Let some of these politicians make movies or start a radio station and try to make a profit instead.

By the way, Rodney, we could use more of your great entries on our funny foto contest. You're the best at that of anyone so far.

And Mac, the film was to be run as part of legitimate discussion by lawyers on First Amendment law and legal limitations put on film, and no laws were being broken by the screening of the film, so I don't understand politicians getting involved. If politicians want to teach the classes at college, then let them get a teaching degree like anyone else.

Mac Lorry:

Paul,

And Mac, the film was to be run as part of legitimate discussion by lawyers on First Amendment law and legal limitations put on film, and no laws were being broken by the screening of the film, so I don't understand politicians getting involved.

The showing of sexually explicit material does get people fired up, and not just those with a firm moral foundation. Some woman's groups oppose such material on the grounds that it depicts women as sexual objects and they claim that increases violence against women. True or not, people have a right to their beliefs and also a right to apply any legal form of pressure such as the threat of legislation, law suites, boycotts, and public protests. If you consider threats of legally protected actions as blackmail then they are blackmail regardless of who uses them or the reason they are used. If so, then the ACLU is one of the worst offenders as they often threaten others with lawsuits.

I oppose the fairness doctrine because government has no business telling station managers what shows to program.
Then we are in agreement

we could use more of your great entries on our funny foto contest.
It's sorta hit or miss as to what strikes me as funny and how many captions I come up with. Sometimes I think of captions and wait for the for the right picture to come along. I did a rewrite of "King of the Road" for Dick Cheney now that he's out of office, titled "Dick of the Road," I haven't found the right pic yet.
Christina Viering:

Freedom of speech.


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Publisher: Kevin Aylward

Editors: Lee Ward, Larkin, Paul S Hooson, and Steve Crickmore

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