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censorship at WVU

post #1 of 5
Thread Starter 
This article apeared in the monday Fed. 21, 2005 additon of the Daily Athenaeum (http://www.da.wvu.edu/):

Hypocrisy and censorship in the 'Lair

Steve Nicholas

Staff Columnist

It never ceases to amaze me what things are deemed offensive by some when other things that seem much worse don't bother them at all.
Last week in the Mountainlair, the Female Equality Movement was doing publicity for its annual V-Day event. "V-Day" does not refer to the holiday that just passed, but to a performance of Eve Ensler's play "The Vagina Monologues."
Part of the club's publicity involves selling penis- and vagina-shaped chocolate suckers. In the past, this has never been an issue, but someone in Student Organization Services deemed the suckers "offensive" and balked on the permit granted to FEM to sell them.
Eventually, a compromise was reached and FEM was allowed to sell the vagina suckers with doilies covering the "offensive" body part.
The whole idea behind "The Vagina Monologues" and the sucker selling it has inspired is to get people to accept their bodies. What is it about the idea of people accepting their bodies that some see as dangerous? What is it about the idea of accepting one's self that some people find offensive? The hypocrisy is even more apparent once someone looks at other commerce going on in the Mountainlair. Anyone who goes into JACS can buy adult magazines such as Playboy. In other words, Student Orgs thinks that it is "offensive" for women to reclaim their own bodies and say that there is nothing wrong with them, but it is perfectly acceptable for a store run by WVU itself to sell magazines that show surgically-altered women as the standard of beauty. (And call it a hunch, but I think fewer sexual activities will be going on because of the suckers than the Playboys.)
The same day the doily-covered vaginas were being sold, members of the Casto/Logan ticket brought in a boom box. Among songs played while I was there was "Gin and Juice" by Snoop Dogg. This is a song that makes several references to drug and alcohol use and uses the words "bitch" and "ho" to describe women, but that's okay with Student Orgs.
There is an argument to be made by some of the defenders of JACS that its adult magazines are covered in plastic, but anyone who comes into the Mountainlair while "Gin and Juice" is being played doesn't make a conscious decision to listen to the song.
I am not writing this to try to turn the Mountainlair into a Victorian realm of all that is "proper" - I am standing up for the First Amendment rights that have been established for all of us. It just seems bizarre to me when people use religion to stifle a group calling for acceptance of the human body when God said, "It was good," not, "It's all good except for a few naughty bits." It doesn't make sense to me when the only defense of such nonsensical and contradictory censorship is: "The world is complicated."
Fortunately, FEM is not taking this lying down and is distributing petitions to counter this display of hypocrisy. Anyone who supports the First Amendment should sign.

I think the suckers should be sould with out being covered up. What do you think??
post #2 of 5
Agreed. Freedom of speech does indeed mean that you should be able to express yourself. I would go so far as to say especially if, not even if, some find it offensive. What I mean by that is that the First Amendment is intended to protect the expression of those beliefs that others would very much like to stifle. Obviously there are limits (you can't threaten harm to someone, for instance), but this is a college campus. It is reasonable to assume that the majority of people on the campus will be 18 or older (read: legal adults), so it isn't a case of displaying material that is inappropriate for the setting either. Frankly, some people find the displays by religous groups on campus offensive, some find protests against the war offensive (or rallies in support of it), but that is part of living in a diverse society where you are free to express yourself.
post #3 of 5
Before censoring things, people should look at the context in which they are being distributed.The vagina pops for example. The Vagina Monologues and V-Day events in general (I am planning one for next VDay at the airforce base that I work at) send extremely positive messages for empowering women- overcoming domestic violence, loving our bodies, etc.
What type of mixed message does it send women when they see this play but then have to buy vagina pops with doily panties pasted on them? It's OK to love your body and your rights in private, but keep that to yourself because it offends others? PLEASE!!
post #4 of 5
I would place the decision into the hands of the host of the event. If they can not be educated as to why they should be uncovered then obviously they do not understand the show and most likey would be unable to. In that case, find a new place to have the show at with people who are actually open minded enough to understand it.
post #5 of 5
Good point. Don't plan V-Day events in West VA!!!
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