Thursday, April 2, 2009

Maryland Senate scares UM into canceling film screening

A planned screening of the high-budget porn epic Pirates II at the University of Maryland-College Park this weekend has been canceled after state Senate leaders threatened to cut public funding:

The screening of the multiple AVN Award-winning blockbuster was approved by a student programming committee for a Saturday midnight show. The publicity led to a state Senate debate, according to the Baltimore Sun.

"That's really not what Maryland residents send their young students to college campus for, to view pornography,"said Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller.

Although Miller called the screening a misuse of tax dollars at the state university, Digital Playground actually offered the film to students for free. The event would have cost no state or student funds.

"This incident in Baltimore is very sad, but we are thrilled that our film has sparked a very important debate about censorship," Adella told AVN. "The Pirates II screening was unanimously approved by the student programming committee, and there was no legitimate reason to cancel the event."

Nonetheless, Sen. Andrew P. Harris suggested state budget cuts to deny funding to any higher education institution screening a porn film outside of an official academic course.

Miller backed the proposal. With millions in state funds hanging in the balance, UM President C.M. Mote, Jr. caved in and squashed the planned event after a closed-door debate between school administrators and state Senate officials.

It's safe to assume that the state Senate spent many times more public money in getting this screening stopped than would have been spent on the screening.

No word on whether students plan to sue the school for its cowardly cave-in. If the state actually managed to pass such a funding restriction, it would undoubtedly be invalidated as a naked content-based restriction. Off the top of my head, I see no reason why the University president's decision to cancel the showing should not be similarly unconstitutional.

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