Students to screen porn film

Canceled movie leads protesters to plan showings on UM campuses

April 04, 2009|By Stephen Kiehl | Stephen Kiehl,stephen.kiehl@baltsun.com

Students at state universities, upset that a screening of a pornographic movie at the University of Maryland, College Park, was canceled, are fighting back: They are organizing their own screenings of the hard-core film as a gesture of protest.

College Park students have reserved an on-campus facility to show the film Monday night, while students at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County said they hope to show the XXX-marketed film, Pirates II: Stagnetti's Revenge, next week but did not have details.

"This has spread like wildfire," said Kenton Stalder, a College Park junior who is organizing the screening. He is inviting professors to moderate a discussion before the film on the free speech issues involved.

"We're trying to be really careful with how we present it because it's such a contentious issue," Stalder said. "We want to have the faculty behind us and have the message shaped in a way the administration can embrace it instead of having it squashed."

A sophomore at UMBC, Paula McCusker, said she contacted the film's distributor, Digital Playground, and received a license to show it. She said students were "outraged and would like in some way to make a statement to express that we are disappointed in the College Park administration" for canceling the movie.

Officials pulled the plug Thursday after state lawmakers threatened to withhold funding. It was originally scheduled to be shown at midnight Saturday in the College Park student union. Sen. Andrew P. Harris, who led the opposition, said he would object if students used university facilities for the new screenings.

Harris, a Republican representing Baltimore and Harford counties, said he expected the universities to block on-campus pornography screenings unless they are in an academic context. "If they want to press the issue with presenting pornography for fun and entertainment in a university facility, with explicit approval of the university, then they would have to deal with that in future budgets," he said.

It was unclear how the universities would respond to the student-organized screenings. A spokesman for College Park did not respond to a request for comment. A UMBC spokesman said it would be premature to comment before the university had more information.

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