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The great porn debate Austin Senator Yarborough’s hoarse voice has been muffled, but it’s easy to recall how, over the past couple of decades, he called on a litany of low standings to illustrate Texas’ sad status among her sister states, the product of rotten government. He spits ` them out like a machine-gun: fifth in overall wealth, but 34th in per capita income; 43rd in spending for public education; last in funds for mental health; 47th among the 50 in care of the old folks. And so we felt a perverse hint of pride last week when a University of Texas law professor told a state senate panel that Texas is, indeed, Number One among the states in one highly competitive field. We have more “skin flick” movie houses than any other state, including those sin capitals, New York and California. Pride probably was an improper reaction. Still, we Texans have held more dubious honors. The “Number One” rating came from Professor John J. Sampson, who served as assistant counsel to the LBJ-appointed national Commission on Obscenity and Pornography. The commission released a controversial report last year which said, in effect, that sexy movies, nudie magazines and the like were a nuisance to many Americans but were not necessarily a death sentence to the American Way of Life. Before the report was even in print \(one of the commission’s members leaked it As a result, it was given little serious consideration by Congress, and little attention by the reading public. The message may yet get through, however. Sexploitation entrepreneurs have come out with their own edition, running the full report word-for-word and “illustrating” it with some of the choicest products of the industry. On the theory that a dirty picture is worth a zillion scholarly words, the illustrated report commands a considerably higher price than the official version. PROFESSOR Sampson made his report to the Texas Senate’s Interim Committee on the Study of the Motion Picture Industry, chaired by Sen. Ralph Hall of Rockwall. The panel, which also included Sens. Mike McKool of Dallas and lameduck Jack Strong of Longview, also heard Austin Dist. Atty. Bob Smith call for “direct action” by citizens rather than legislation, to close down the skin trade. Smith said a handful of concerned citizens was the real answer. “If these places were picketed I think they could be run out of business in six months,” he said. Perhaps. But probably not. One has to assume, this being a nation that venerates free enterprise, that the porn-producers and sellers are giving the public something it wants. As Sampson told the senators, “it’s clear that this is the kind of movies people want to “go see.” He suggested, in jest, that if government wanted to stop the flow of films, magazines and pictures it might create a “smut bank” patterned after the federal “soil bank,” to pay pornographers not to produce their wares. The senators opted for a more traditional form of curtailment, censorship. The committee gave tentative support to legislation which would authorize local communities to create movie review boards which would pass on all films to be shown in the town. The review boards would control theater licenses and would be empowered to revoke them if theater owners failed to present upcoming films for preview. Licenses also could be repealed if minors are allowed to view films dealing in “. . . nudity, sexual excitement, sexual conduct or sado-masochistic abuse.” Senator Strong did express a mild reservation that the proposal would open the floodgates. “You’re going to have a few towns where the people are going to get all worked up and out on a limb and have real strong objections to ‘Mother Goose,’ ” he admitted. Sure enough, an Austin Church of Christ preacher, Maxie Horen, told the committee he and his wife were shocked by a recent showing of “Paint Your Wagon,” a musical which displayed: a “general audience” rating in most towns,. and by “Cheyenne Social . Cub,” a slapstickish Western comedy. THE “PROBLEM” is widespread. That is, porny houses and book stores are established and prospering in every large Texas city. Austin has three, located within a couple of blocks of each other on East Sixth Street, near the city’s main intersection. San Antonio, Dallas and Fort About those sex fiends Popular myth has it that pornography creates sex fiends. Almost all lawmakers, even the most liberal ones, seem to believe that children should not be exposed to pornography, but a report in the December, 1970, Psychology Today maintains that sheltering a child from erotica may not be the best way to give him a healthy attitude toward sex. The results of a research project that grew out of studies done for the Commission on Obscenity and Pornography strongly indicate that exposure to pornography may be salutary. Psychologists Harold S. Kant and Michael J. Goldstein and their University of California colleagues compared 60 men in a state hospital who were either charged or convicted for rape or child molestation, 52 adult users of pornography and 63 men whose ages and educational backgrounds matched those of the sex offenders. “In general we folind that pornography cannot be shown to trigger any identifiable, specific form of sexual activity,” the psychologists wrote. “One’s family background and his current attitudes and his access to partners seem much more likely to determine his sexual behavior.” “We found,” they continue, “that a sample of rapists had seen less pornography as teenagers than a comparable group of normal adults. The same was true for child molesters. Steady customers of an adult bookstore also had seen less erotica as adolescents than our control group had.” Kant and Goldstein reported, that the rapists studied “found it very difficult to talk about sex.” They said there was little nudity in their homes while they were growing up and that sex was never. discussed. “Rapists tended to oppose premarital sex, and many of them relied on their wives for a great deal of their sex information.” They concluded, “It appears that all, groups of sexual deviates, no matter. ;; what their age, education or occupationi, share one common characteristic: they\\ had little exposure to erotica when they were adolescents. This suggests that a, reasonable exposure to erotica, particularly during adolescence, reflects a high degree of sexual interest and curiosity that correlates with adult patterns of acceptable heterosexual interest and practice.” January 29, 1971 15 3.