University of Maryland: State Senators Pressure University to Cancel Controversial Film Screening

Category: Cases
Schools: University of Maryland – College Park

Under intense pressure from the Maryland Senate, the University of Maryland cancelled a student-run campus event that would have included an educational event by Planned Parenthood and then a screening of the self-described “XXX”-rated film Pirates II: Stagnetti’s Revenge. Cancelling the event was a clear violation of the First Amendment and the students’ right to freedom of expression and, furthermore, a public school administrator is not allowed to engage in prior review. However, the school caved after Maryland Senator Andrew P. Harris introduced an amendment to the school budget bill banning providing general funds for screenings of XXX-rated adult films. As a result of the uproar surrounding the cancellation, students screened parts of the film on the scheduled day of the event anyway, without university approval.

  • Maryland Regents Pass on Porn Policy

    November 11, 2009

    The University System of Maryland’s Board of Regents declined Wednesday to impose a pornography policy at the 11 schools under its jurisdiction. The regents followed the chancellor’s recommendation to not create a policy regarding films screened “purely for entertainment purposes” on its campuses Wednesday, putting an end to months of debate on students’ First Amendment rights. The University of Maryland, College Park had planned to screen the pornographic film “Pirates II: Stagnetti’s Revenge” at its student union in April until state Sen. Andrew Harris, R-Baltimore County, threatened to cut off the university’s state funding if it aired. University President C. […]

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  • Student-hosted porn screening threatens college funding

    April 8, 2009

    Pirates of the Caribbean, meet Deep Throat. A porn flick making its way across college campuses is drawing stiff resistance from critics who say universities shouldn’t pay for smut. But the film’s supporters say it doesn’t rise to the legal definition of obscenity, and the schools have a First Amendment right to show it.  The film in question — “Pirates II: Stagnetti’s Revenge” — is produced by Digital Playground, which calls itself “the world leader in adult filmmaking and interactive formats boasting the largest HD library available.” The film that has been airing on campuses is unrated, although Digital Playground […]

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  • Porno teaches Maryland a valuable lesson

    April 8, 2009

    There are a whole host of little lessons one learns when working in First Amendment law: What is vulgar to one person might be poetic to another, occasional offense is a small price to pay for a pluralistic democracy, without a free press there can be no meaningful democratic process, etc. But one of the more entertaining lessons one learns is: If you don’t want to help someone spread their message, don’t attempt to censor them. Case in point: Maryland State Senator Andrew P. Harris’ recent attempts to ban University of Maryland students from showing Pirates II: Stagnetti’s Revenge, a […]

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  • University System of Maryland Regents Choose First Amendment, Reject Policy on Pornography

    November 13, 2009

    In a vote earlier this week, the University System of Maryland’s Board of Regents declined to impose a policy on pornography on the eleven schools under its jurisdiction. By rejecting calls to create a policy regarding the screening on campus of films “purely for entertainment purposes,” the Board of Regents struck a blow for the First Amendment rights of Maryland’s public university students. The vote hopefully brings a happy conclusion to a tumultuous process which began in April when students at the University of Maryland-College Park planned to screen the pornographic film Pirates II: Stagnetti’s Revenge accompanied by a talk from Planned Parenthood representatives. As Torch readers […]

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  • In Letter to ‘Washington Post,’ FIRE’s Creeley Criticizes Mandatory ‘Pornography’ Policy in Maryland Colleges

    October 19, 2009

    Last week The Washington Post published an editorial criticizing the Maryland State Senate’s imposition of a requirement that all schools in the state’s university system craft a comprehensive policy “on the use of public higher education facilities for the displaying or screening of obscene films and materials.” This measure, spearheaded by Senator Andrew P. Harris, comes in direct response to a controversy over the showing of an adult film at the University of Maryland – College Park earlier this year. The Post editorial condemns the requirement and the First Amendment threats it introduces. FIRE could not agree more, and to […]

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  • Greg in ‘Huffington Post’: A ‘Valuable Lesson’ for Maryland

    April 9, 2009

    Adding to the frenzy of local, national, and international press generated by recent events at the University of Maryland, Greg has taken to The Huffington Post with a simple message for Maryland State Senator Andrew P. Harris: “If you don’t want to help someone spread their message, don’t attempt to censor them.” Greg’s message to Harris and the Maryland legislature comes, of course, in response to Harris’ threats to threaten the university’s state funding if it allowed students to screen the adult film Pirates II: Scagnetti’s Revenge. Despite the legislative threats, students at Maryland—after initially canceling their planned viewing—went ahead […]

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  • Maryland Senators and University of Maryland Violate First Amendment over X-Rated Film Showings

    April 3, 2009

    Under intense pressure from the Maryland Senate, the University of Maryland has cancelled a student-run campus event that would have included an educational event by Planned Parenthood and then a screening of the self-described “XXX”-rated film Pirates II: Stagnetti’s Revenge. Maryland Senator Andrew P. Harris introduced this amendment to the budget bill that happened to be before the Senate yesterday: Further provided that no general funds will be provided to any public higher education institution that, on or after April 2, 2009, sponsors, sanctions, promotes, endorses, or allows a public screening of any film that is marketed as a XXX-rated […]

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  • Uni scraps porn after funds strip threat

    April 3, 2009

    An attempt to distract university students in Maryland from late-night drinking with a feature-length porn movie was blocked Thursday after state senators threatened to cut funds for the college. The two-and-a-half-hour Pirates II: Stagnetti’s Revenge – the most expensive pornographic film ever made, at a cost of $13 million – would have been shown at a University of Maryland student union theater on Saturday. Organizers at the College Park campus, 16km north of Washington, had championed educational aspects of the screening, with health group Planned Parenthood planning to hold a presentation on safe sex practices beforehand. The event was also […]

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  • Hell week for campus free speech

    April 2, 2009

    The week is not quite over, and it’s already been a lousy one for free speech on America’s campuses. Yesterday, angry students at the University of Massachusetts Amherst were caught on video stealing a conservative student newspaper, while a police officer stood by and not only watched, but excused the students’ behavior. A graduate student protested the attempt to steal hundreds of copies of the newspaper, explaining that the newspaper said right on its front page that only the first copy was free and every following copy was three dollars (a tactic necessitated over the years by hundreds of previous […]

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