Skip to Navigation
University of Pittsburgh
Print This Page Print this pages

October 26, 1995

Pornography & 1st Amendment debate set

Pitt will host the first-ever debate between Catherine MacKinnon and Nat Hentoff, two of America's foremost authorities on pornography and the First Amendment, on Nov. 6 at 6 p.m. in the Teplitz Moot Courtroom in the law school. The debate is jointly sponsored by the law school and the First Freedoms Fund of Western Pennsylvania, and will be moderated by Pennsylvania State Senator Melissa Hart, R-Allison Park. An extensive question-and-answer period will follow the debate.

MacKinnon is a renowned feminist legal scholar and University of Michigan law professor best known for helping victims of sexual harassment in the workplace to sue their employers.

"Protecting pornography means protecting sexual abuse as speech, at the same time that both pornography and its protection have deprived women of speech, especially against sexual abuse," MacKinnon recently wrote.

Concerning pornography on the Internet, she has observed that: "The question pornography poses in cyberspace is the same one it poses everywhere else: whether anything can be done about it."

Hentoff is a Village Voice writer and a columnist for The Washington Post. He has noted that MacKinnon "and I have totally opposite views on the importance of the First Amendment.

Hentoff particularly disagrees with MacKinnon's model pornography legislation, which has been enacted in several communities around the country and defeated in court, that allows a woman to sue the makers and distributors of pornographic films and other items that she believes have harmed her.

Recently, Hentoff labeled the Exon Act, proposed congressional legislation aimed at regulating sexual material on the Internet, as "the most sweeping imposition of governmental censorship in American history." According to Hentoff, Internet users should take the initiative to protect their children from sexually explicit material.

Tickets for the debate are $2 for students and $5 for the public. Advance tickets and additional information is available from the First Freedoms Fund, P.O. Box 22385, Pittsburgh 15222 or phone 261-6781.

Filed under: Feature,Volume 28 Issue 5

Leave a Reply