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Great work on the action last night!  Feminist Students United has appeared twice in local media today.

The Daily Tar Heel (UNC-CH’s student newspaper) has published an article praising Flynt for his defense of free speech.  They ignore the effects of his speech, ignore the police officer who threatened an FSU member with arrest, and claim that FSU staged a “muted protest.”  The Daily Tar Heel: a protest doesn’t have to be involve posters and shouts to be loud.

Hustler’s Larry Flynt defends First Amendment in UNC speech
The Daily Tar Heel, February 19, 2010

News 14 Carolina’s video report still focuses on whether Flynt’s speech and the speech of those present should be free or not, instead of pornography’s harmful effects.  They also claim that an FSU member was “reading to the audience,” instead of reading a pre-written question.  Look for a footage of the anit-programs we created and a brief sentence with in the video.

Prominent pornographer key note for free speech event
News 14 Carolina, February 19, 2010

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UPDATE:

Below are recent letters to the editor that have appeared in The Daily Tar Heel.

Flynt event lacked broader discussion about society
The Daily Tar Heel, February 22, 2010

Flynt event didn’t embrace the marketplace of ideas
The Daily Tar Heel, February 23, 2010

Not possible to separate Flynt from his pornography
The Daily Tar Heel, February 24, 2010

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And what follows is a post in the comments section of another letter to the editor, where our FSU member writes out the question he would have asked had the police not silenced him.

“First, I wanna ask the audience how do we feel having the UNC First Amendment Law Review bring Larry Flynt to our school and our community. I say this because once we move beyond an abstract conversation about freedom of speech and instead examine the content of the “speech” Larry Flynt creates and defends, then we can really start to discuss whether we want this person here. It’s important to note that an article about this event appeared on the pornography website Adult Video News, which shows us that the porn industry is using the law school to legitimize Flynt’s products.

*at this point I was interrupted by the moderators and silenced by the campus police officer. what follows is the rest of my question, had i been allowed to ask it*

But let’s take a look at some of the products Flynt has created… Barley Legal Cumming of Age, Big Black Meat In Little Blonde Treats, Ass To Mouth Guzzlers, Daddy Please Stop Fucking My Friends, Face Down Ass Up Asian Style, Young Latin Girls 14. Not to mention, he has advocated in Hustler for an end to the age of consent, calling for acceptance of adult-child sex and legalization of incest. So now that we have gotten to the content, I’d like to ask you, Mr. Flynt, how do you feel creating racist and sexist “speech” that teaches men domination over women in our sexual relationships and depicts women as sexual objects?”

Tonight at UNC-Chapel Hill, members of Feminist Students United handed out programs challenging the audience of pornographer Larry Flynt’s keynote address for the First Amendment Law Review to think deeply about pornography’s harmful effects on women, people of color, and low income people in particular, its harmful effects on everyone in general, and its contribution to our society’s rape culture.

Before Flynt’s address, several men passed out these programs to audience members lined up outside the Great Hall of UNC-CH’s student union. The program, a joint creation by members of FSU, asked the question: “Does Larry Flynt Have the Right to Speak?” and answered: “Absolutely.”

However, the program went on to ask the audience members to consider the violently sexist and racist content of Flynt’s porn industry. “Instead of having an abstract dialogue about ‘Freedom of Speech,'” the program says, “we must examine the content of his work, and its effects. Let’s start talking about how to move our sexual imaginations toward respect, toward empathy, toward connections based on equality, not domination.”

Though Feminist Students United acknowledge Larry Flynt’s legal right to speak, we feel it is important to ask deeper questions about exactly what he and his company are saying. Pornography represents the widespread acceptance of men’s domination over women in sexuality. Mainstream pornography uses society’s most racist and sexist stereotypes in its depictions of sexuality. How can a society truly be free and egalitarian when a man like Larry Flynt, who has created such works as “Barely Legal Cumming of Age” and “Big Phat Ghetto Azz All Greased Up,” is regarded as a hero of free speech and invited to speak at a public university? What does it mean that many young boys learn about sexuality through films like “Gag Factor?” What does it mean that many women who appear in such videos as “ATM [ass to mouth] Guzzlers” are completely dehumanized and subjected to humiliation and violence in order to make a living?

The event itself, though posed as an open exchange of ideas wherein two moderators asked Larry Flynt several questions about his work around free speech, was instead yet another legitimation of pornography in mainstream society. The questions the moderators asked Flynt were simple and uncontroversial: “Do you feel mainstream media has gone soft?” “What do you think about Obama?” “Do you feel today’s politicians are hypocritical?”

His answers, though dismissive of conservatives, organized religion, and the recent rise of the populist “Tea Party,” revealed no acknowledgement of the effects pornography has on our society. Despite the desperate conditions capitalism places many women into, he insisted that his films have never exploited anybody; despite the epidemic of men’s violence against women that occurs in our culture, he insisted that no person has ever been harmed by his films. Of course, porn does not cause men to attack their partners, but can it really be said that erotic films depicting violent sex acts have no connection to sexist violence?

Finally, despite the introduction of tonight’s talk as a marketplace of ideas where conversation about free speech can take place in a manner befitting “high level academic discourse,” a member of FSU who asked a lengthy question during the audience Q&A session was told by the moderators to stand down.  He was interrupted by the moderators while he read his question.  When he continued to read his question, a police officer covered the microphone with his hand and threatened him with arrest unless he immediately asked Flynt the question.  Can an event where civil but opposing viewpoints are shouted down, and where one voice (the voice of the rich, white, pornographer) is the loudest, truly represent an egalitarian marketplace of ideas?

Pornography harms our friends, family, and loved ones. Feminist Students United condemns this distorted view of sexuality, and advocates the creation of an equal, compassionate, and respectful sexuality in its place.

Check out this post for updates on news coverage of FSU’s direct action at the Larry Flynt event.

Feminist Students United (FSU) is a progressive feminist organization which affirms that no form of oppression can be overcome until all aspects of racism, classism, sexism, and heterosexism are dismantled. We acknowledge intersecting identities and strive to be mindful of these intersections in all our work. We endeavor to create an environment which is non-hierarchical and supportive in nature, and we work to bring about change in our community through education, outreach, direct action and community organizing.

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