Thursday, December 04, 2008

Pornography 101

Paging Justice Stewart

I thank my most diligent correspondent and field reporter “Steve” for bringing to my attention a story I would otherwise have completely missed. Steve is a former student of mine who holds a faculty position at the notorious American River College in Sacramento. It's sad to think that American River's main claim to fame these days is the involvement of its right-wing student council in the Proposition 8 campaign. The student government is dominated by youthful Christian homophobes—a mix of homegrown and Slavic immigrant extremists—who withstood a recent recall election. Apparently at least one of them is on the school newspaper, too.

The latest issue of The Current is dated December 3, 2008, but Steve tells me it actually appeared on campus today, a day late. While some articles are at least implicitly critical of the student government, an opinion piece by a Current staff writer makes it clear he stands with them. (It may be more than a coincidence that he has the same last name as one of the most vociferous Proposition 8 supporters on the student council.) Dennis Choban is sounding the alarm about pornography on campus—and it's sanctioned by the school! Oh, the horror!
Material on campus offends some

Dennis Choban
Staff Writer

Pornography at school? Don't look, but there is pornographic art in the Learning Resource Center (LRC) and the art gallery in the art building. Leland Thiel, the dean of the LRC said that that painting was up in the LRC for three years and nobody complained about it. If you don't say anything, how do you expect things to change? True belief is validated in action.

By depicting a nude woman on a wall, you necessarily tempt men to lust. Some might argue that if you don't like it, don't look at it. Nonetheless, it's in human nature for a man to have impure thoughts when he sees a naked woman, the temptation is always present.

Don't misunderstand, the human body is beautiful, and sexuality in itself is not wrong or sinful. God created human sexuality for procreation and for our enjoyment. “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.” (Genesis 1:27). But the misuse of it is very damaging to both women and men, and insulting to our Creator.
First of all, it appears that Dennis has no idea what pornography actually is. Nude figures on display in art galleries at a college? That's pretty mild. He could get stronger stuff any day of the week by using Google with Safe Search turned off. I'm not sure whether young Mr. Choban is sadly lacking in imagination or instead has entirely too much of it. Furthermore, he cites scripture as if it's relevant to the administration of a secular public institution. I don't think so, Dennis.

It turns out he knows the textbook definition of pornography, because he cites it in his next paragraph, but don't forget the context. He's applying this to art work simply because it depicts unclothed models. Dennis has a very low bar. It's probably not worth the trip to Sacramento just to check out the filthy pictures at ARC. I'll bet there's going to be a lot more foot traffic from the students, however. The art department thanks you, Dennis!
Pornography is the portrayal of human nudity for the selfish gratification of the viewer. It dehumanizes and exploits women and encourages men to use them as sex objects.

According to God, lust is a sin. Sin is turning one's back to God or rebelling against Him. It is stated so in the Bible, the historically and scientifically accurate writing which is Gods message given to us by divine revelation.
The Bible has “scientifically accurate writing”? Oy.
King Jesus Christ said, “But I say unto you, that whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.” (Matthew 5:28)
Dennis is much too young to remember when Jimmy Carter got in trouble for citing this biblical passage and confessing to lust in his heart, but he appears to have a lot in common with our 39th president. He may also be of Potter Stewart's school of thought. Stewart is the Supreme Court justice who famously said he could not provide a legal definition of pornography, but “I know it when I see it.” Mr. Justice Stewart, however, exercised some judicious discrimination and restraint in making his determinations. By contrast, Mr. Choban sees it everywhere. Even in art classes devoted to the human figure.
Did you know that ARC offers art classes with live nude models? And they had the impudence of posting wanted ads on the ARC ad post in front of the library early this semester. This is outrageous! Those classes need to be removed from course offering.

Both Art 304 and Art 375 focus on the nude body. Art 375: Figure Sculpture course description plainly reveals that: This is a course that introduces figure sculpture, using the live nude model as a reference.
Imagine that: a figure sculpting class that uses figures. And dares to advertise for models and pay them for posing. Dennis misses a trick here by not claiming that the art department is soliciting for pornography, but instead his big finish is a rallying cry to women to rise up against their oppressors. (Trust me, Dennis, you should be very careful about provoking such a response.)
There should be no place for pornography on a college campus. Women, your body is beautiful, but don't show it off in public, dress modestly and save it for your husband. In fact, you should be insulted when nearly nude images of your gender are plastered all over the walls in public. Speak out against it, who else can do it better than you?
Well, not you, obviously.


Rhoadan said...

Jeeze, this guy sounds like one of the people who had freak fits about the cover of this album. One of the customere uploaded pictures is the expurgated US version, which, I am convinced, is an editorial comment on the people having fits.

My message to Mr. Choban? "Dude, get a grip." Treating the nude female body like forbidden fruit makes it far more tempting than treating it like it's just there. I've been to clothing optional Pagan festivals. After a day or two, nobody pays any attention.

Ray said...

I have a feeling that "getting a grip" is what this fellow does all too often. Securely behind closed doors, of course.

Anonymous said...

I really don't understand the Christian view on lust. Surely, even if Matt was accurate in what Jesus said, he was only talking to married people. How can you commit adultery when you're single? And how do we perpetuate the species without lust? Go back to arranged marriages and not show anyone a perspective spouse until after the magic words are spoken?

Vene said...

He'd probably have a heart attack if he saw my anatomy book. Come to think of it, the cadavers are naked. My university promotes necrophilia!

Mozglubov said...

"It is stated so in the Bible, the historically and scientifically accurate writing which is Gods message given to us by divine revelation."

I think it is hilarious when people make claims like this... they clearly do not have an understanding of what 'scientifically accurate' means, but know that it makes something sound better.

Interrobang said...

I love the appeals to pseudofeminism there. Women should be outraged by depictions of them that dehumanise them (we are, but art nudes don't), but at the same time, it's up to women to control men's behaviour (by "dressing modestly and saving it" for our putative husbands) because men can't possibly control themselves in the face (or other anatomical locations) of nude pictures. So obviously if some man gets aroused by an art nude, that's some woman's fault. Errr-right.

He also never mentions what happens if women get aroused by art nudes (because apparently women have no sex drives of their own), and/or stops to consider that some women might like art nudes (as opposed to a lot of porn, which really is degrading and dehumanising).

Have you ever noticed how much antifeminists hate men? Men apparently are these evil slavering beasts who simply cannot control themselves sexually, but somehow therefore deserve to control everything else.

Anonymous said...

I was going to leave a comment essentially like Interrobang's, so I'll go for something else.

You know that stupid bit from the Sermon on the Mount:

“But I say unto you, that whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.” (Matthew 5:28)

I've long suspected this meant something quite different to its original audience.

Historically, rape was considered an, at most, naughty thing to do. If a woman wasn't "owned" by some man, "having your way" with her was generally considered okay by a lot of people. By people of course, I mean men.

It's my belief, that Jesus (assuming he ever existed) was actually trying to say that rape isn't cool, rather than fucking is wrong generally.

llewelly said...

How can you commit adultery when you're single?

If you're single, having sex is being unfaithful to Jesus Christ.

Tom Foss said...

If you're single, having sex is being unfaithful to Jesus Christ.

More commonly, I hear it's being unfaithful to your future husband/wife, the one for whom you're saving your virginity/hymen/wedding night disappointment.

Anonymous said...

"Did you know that ARC offers art classes with live nude models? "

*gasp* NO! Shock and horror!

What a complete and utter tool.

"God created human sexuality for procreation and for our enjoyment. But the misuse of it is very damaging to both women and men, and insulting to our Creator."

And apparently the arbiter of what is use and what is misuse is Mr. Choban. Or one of those councils of elderly celibates. And Christians have the nerve to call US arrogant.

Anonymous said...

Our history with Republicans trying to show us the evil of the naked human body goes back to at least Nixon in contemporary history. He had a pornography "commission." Then it was the Meese commission under Reagan. I suspect this most recent example is by college Republicans.
A few years ago, in Connecticut, someone filed a law suit. If I remember correctly, someone demanded to have the school bus route changed: Somewhere along the route someone had a replica of Michelangelo's David on their property. A parent was offended that their child was exposed to this obscenity.
I think enforced attendance, for an extended period of time, at a nudist retreat may be in order for all Republicans.

Alex said...

Occasionally I think of the possibility of humanity's destruction at its own hand as not only inevitable, but actually desirable.

Wipe the slate clean and start over again!

Jens Knudsen (Sili) said...

"He could get stronger stuff any day of the week by using Google with Safe Search turned off."

Heck. He good stronger stuff with Safesearch *on*!

Calamity Cloggy said...

Funny thing is, I never hear any complaints from this kind of joker about male modeling. Either they think all nudes are female, or..

Theo Bromine said...

The answer should be simple: If you don't like to be naked yourself, keep your clothes on. If you don't like looking at other people's naked bodies, don't look. (And, by the way, this also applies to those who are staunch defenders of naked beauty but complain about the offensiveness of nakedness which is not so beautiful.) Otherwise, I don't think there is anywhere one could legitimately draw a line between permitting nudity and mandating burkhas.

(It all seems very standard - assault on Purity, war on Christians, war on Christmas, etc, etc. Though the quote attribution for "King Jesus Christ" made me blink.)

Anonymous said...

Wow, he'd be really shocked at the Vatican. I've been there. The place is full of pictures of naked men and women. There are statues too, and some of them are hot stuff. They even have pictures of, ahem, "martyrs" for the S&M set. I think they call Roman Catholicism syncretic because it has something for everyone, kind of like Google.

Zeno said...

I'm fairly certain, Kaleberg, that this young man already considers the Roman Catholic Church to be the Whore of Babylon. The goodies in Vatican City would just confirm his opinion. It might even kill him, too, since he seems to be of a particularly delicate nature.