For students, debate is source of confusion North Carolinians unsure about limits

September 23, 1990|By Ellen Uzelac

ASHEVILLE, N.C. -- For University of North Carolina junior Jay Bowers, life at college has been, at best, confusing: "In college you don't know what to believe," he said. "They throw so much at you."

The 20-year-old Mr. Bowers, who hopes to go to law school, enjoys listening to rap music and watching MTV almost as much as he loves baseball -- and he loves baseball. He and his friends, Gigi Leaks and Trent Suggs, have been following the debate on obscenity.

For Mr. Bowers, the debate has caused some personal anguish.

"There are different levels for me," he said. "A picture of Christ in a jar [of urine], that offends me. The Madonna videos? You have to be looking for something bad to find something bad. Then I hear people talk about sexism and racism, and I get worried because it's so ingrained; my generation didn't start it, and no matter how hard I try, sometimes I find myself thinking racist and sexist."

So what does this have to do with art? Everything, these students say.

"When do we say, 'That's enough,' and who says it?" wondered Ms. Leaks, 20. "I listen to some rap, and a lot of it is too graphic, and I'm not that old. But I feel I'm in a totally different generation than my 13-year-old brother."

As for Mr. Suggs, he says: "Demands change. When people want something, it's going to be there. So what's all the fuss about?"

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