Friday, April 26, 2013

Pornography in Biola's Library?

This is an e-mail I recently sent to the directors of the Biola Library:
Hello, 
My name is Murray Vasser, and I am an adjunct faculty member in the science department here at Biola.  I was perusing the DVD section in the library and came across several copies of the unrated version of the sex comedy "Knocked Up."  The theatrical version was rated R, and the unrated DVD contains the tagline, "Watch what you couldn't see in theaters."  This means that the material on the DVD, if it were submitted to the MPAA, would receive a NC-17 rating.  These DVDs are therefore, by definition, pornography.
Concerning pornography, the community standards state:  "University policy forbids exhibition, possession, or distribution of material or representations deemed to be obscene or contrary to the moral standards and/or mission of the University, including, but not limited to, pornography." 
Therefore, it is technically a violation of university policy to check out these DVDs, and it is certainly a violation to watch them.  Why then does the library keep these DVDs in stock?  Perhaps this was an oversight? 
Furthermore, I am not sure why the library would stock even the theatrical version of such a film, or several others that I noticed.  The distribution of these films hardly seems in keeping with the mission statement of the library as expressed here:  http://library.biola.edu/about/mission/.    
Anyway, I just wanted to register my concerns on the matter.  Thank you for your time.
This e-mail resulted in a rather unbelievable phone conversation with one of the librarians.  I was told up front that the movies are not related to the academic aims of the library; they are kept simply to provide free entertainment for the students.  I suggested that perhaps "Knocked Up" was not the sort of entertainment the Biola community should be enjoying.  After a long and awkward silence, I was told, "For the most part."  I still do not quite know what that means.

I was then told that the library felt that students should be able to interact with mainstream films shown in theaters.  I pointed out that this version of the film could not, in fact, be shown in theaters.  In response, the librarian assured me that he had watched the film and felt it was "not that explicit."  (I wonder if Lyman Stewart, Thomas Horton, or R. A. Torrey would have reached that same conclusion.)

After agreeing that we had arrived at an impasse, the librarian told me that I was free to take my concerns to a wider audience.  So here you go.  Feel free to share.

Frankly, I am just amazed that this sort of discussion is even happening.  Let's be real.  If the apostle Paul walked into your dorm room and saw you watching a film like "Knocked Up," he would toss your laptop out the window.  I doubt he would have much time for our stammering attempts to rationalize sin.


See a follow up to this post here.