Md. Regents Won't Regulate Porn on Campuses

Nov 11, 2009 2:45 PM PST
BALTIMORE — Enforcing obscene rules for videos shown on campuses is impossible, says the regents of Maryland's state university system.

The regents on Wednesday concluded that any such rules would be legally indefensible and voted to defy a legislative order to regulate pornography on campus.

Maryland's General Assembly asked for the regents to craft rules in response to controversy over the planned screening last spring of Digital Playground movie "Pirates II: Stagnetti's Revenge" at the University of Maryland.

The legislature gave state-funded universities until Dec. 1 to submit policies on "the displaying or screening of obscene films and materials." There are 14 campuses in the system.

One legislator, state Sen. Andrew P. Harris vowed to make sure that state would deny funds if the university allowed a full screening. Instead, portions of the film were shown on campus.

In a report to the 17-member regents, Chancellor William E. Kirwan said that any policy "would put the universities in an untenable position and subject [them] to legal challenges."

Enforcing such a rule might require the creation of a panel to review all films shown on every campus for "purely entertainment purposes," the report states, to determine whether they might need to be augmented with an educational component.

The report also said that no other public university in the nation has a policy on pornographic displays, and that "speaks volumes."

It also said that pornographic materials generally have constitutional protection unless they are deemed obscene.

But "there are few, if any, films that have been declared obscene by any court," the report said.

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