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Jewish World Review April 5, 2001 / 12 Nissan, 5761

Terry Collins

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Consumer Reports


ACLU president: Censoring porn hurts women's movement

http://www.jewishworldreview.com -- MINNEAPOLIS -- There's no reason pornography should be less protected than other forms of expression under the First Amendment, the president of the American Civil Liberties Union says.

"Not only does (censorship) violate free speech, but it undermines the fight for women's rights," ACLU president Nadine Strossen told an audience at the University of Minnesota Law School. "Censoring pornography will do more harm than good."

Strossen made her remarks during an hourlong lecture to more than 100 people Monday at the University of Minnesota Law School. Her talk, titled "Defending Pornography: Free Speech, Sex and the Fight for Women's Rights," also is the title of a book by Strossen.

Reading excerpts from her book, "Defending Pornography: Free Speech, Sex and the Fight for Women's Rights," Strossen said free expression about sexual issues is critically important to women's rights, despite what pro-censorship feminists believe.

"They define it (pornography) as a sexually explicit expression that 'subordinates' and 'degrades' women, on the theory that this causes discrimination and violence against women," said Strossen, adding that she is against child pornography.

"Their argument is pernicious and wrongheaded. Our society is founded on liberty and equality and free speech and equal opportunity under the laws of the Constitution."

Nathan Raysor, 19, a sophomore, asked Strossen about the distinction between a natural monopoly and a common resource. He used the examples of how people can block adult cable TV channels but unknowingly encounter a nude section at a beach.

"There is a difference between government interaction and an order of magnitude," said Stossen, who is also a professor at New York Law School. "That's why we have zoning laws on where sexual expression and conduct can take place in certain parts of the community.

"At the same time, it really makes me wonder why are we so offended by the human body," she said.

Terry Collins writes for the Minneapolis-St. Paul Star Tribune. Comment by clicking here.

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