The following document was written to be used in a legal challenge of Michigan Public Act 33 of 1999 ("The Child Online Protection Act"). In the end, it was not included in the filing. Instead I gave similar testimony orally.


I, Jan Wolter, of Ann Arbor, Michigan, do declare:

1.  I am secretary of Cyberspace Communications, a Michigan non-profit corporation whose primary function is to maintain a free, public-access Internet service called "Grex." The name "Grex" (which means "group" in Latin) is also registered as a d/b/a for Cyberspace Communications, Inc. On behalf of Cyberspace Communications and our members and users, I submit this declaration in support of plaintiffs' motion for injunctive relief against enforcement of Michigan Public Act 33 of 1999 (hereinafter, the "Act").

2.  I have been using and administering public-access computer-conferencing systems since 1983. I am currently the secretary of the board of Cyberspace Communications, and a member of its volunteer technical staff. I served as president of Cyberspace Communications in 1998. Professionally, I am a freelance software developer, specializing in building web sites. I received a Ph.D. in Computer Engineering from the University of Michigan in 1988 and was a Professor of Computer Science at Texas A&M University from 1988 to 1995.


3.  Cyberspace Communications is a recognized 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization that pursues charitable and educational missions on the Internet. We provide limited access to Internet services free of charge, but our primary purpose is to provide a wide range of on-line discussion forums allowing free exchange of information on any topic. Grex has been in operation since 1991.

4.  The Grex system is accessible to the public via the Internet as "". It is also accessible via a bank of dial-in modems located in Ann Arbor, Michigan. To support our charitable and educational mission, we have made the process of registering to use Grex as barrier-free as possible. Users are not required to pay any fees, nor are they required to give any information about themselves. All accounts are created immediately upon request. This open access policy helps ensure that a wide range of people can make use of our services and bring their viewpoints to our discussion forums.

5.  Grex is active, popular, and has a large number of users. An average of about 200 new accounts are created daily; there are currently about 29,000 active accounts. Users come from all over the world, but the majority of those most active in our public forums are Michigan residents. Many are minors. Because we do not require our users to supply personal information, we do not have complete information about the ages or locations of our users.

6.  Grex is primarily a computer conferencing system, allowing users to post messages in any of over 100 public electronic forums. These conferences are at the heart of our educational mission. Among the topics covered by conferences on Grex are music, the arts, writing, consumer information, housing, finance, small business, philosophy, living with disabilities, men's and women's issues, parenting, pets, computer hardware and software, nature, and role-playing games. There are also non-topical "creative" conferences and a general discussion area. All Cyberspace Communications policies are discussed and developed in a public conference called "coop". Any posting to these conferences typically remains publicly readable for months or years. Postings are censored only in rare cases (for example, if someone posts a dozen copies of the same message we might hide all but one). All conferences can be read over the web even by people who do not have Grex accounts - they are easily readable by anyone in the world who has access to the Internet. The conferences currently contain about 42 million words of text, roughly five times as much text as a typical 20 volume encyclopedia. Roughly 200 new messages are posted to the conferences every day.

7.  Grex also hosts a live chat area, called "party." Messages posted here are short - generally one line of text -- and are seen instantly by other participants, permitting real-time online conversations. Discussions are typically more spontaneous and informal than they are in the conferences. "Party" is especially popular with our younger users. On average over 5000 messages a day are posted in the chat area.

8.  Grex provides many services in addition to conferences and live chat. All Grex users can freely send and receive private E-mail. They can also access the world wide web via a non-graphical browser, and about 1000 users have used Grex to post their own text-only web pages. (Images are not allowed because our Internet connection is too slow and overburdened to support them.) Pairs of users can also open private conversation channels. Users can transfer files of any type to and from Grex, possibly exchanging files with other users. We allow full access to software development tools on our system for those interested in learning programming.

9.  For an operation of its size and scope, Grex's budget is extremely small. All the work of maintaining and enhancing the system is done by unpaid volunteers who contribute services on a part-time basis; we have no paid employees. Cyberspace Communications is funded almost entirely by donations from our users. Our current assets consist of $4,500 in the bank and various old computer equipment. We have about 100 members who donate $60 a year or $6 a month, making them eligible to vote in board of directors elections and for which they also receive a minor increase in Internet access. Our total revenue in 1998 was about $8,200, giving us about 30 cents per user per year to spend. About $7,500 of this was spent simply to keep the system running - rent, electricity, phones, Internet connectivity, and such - leaving us about $700 to spend on upgrades to our service. Except for an unstaffed machine room, we maintain no offices. Although our funding is extremely limited, we value the fact that drawing our income primarily from our users means we are primarily responsible to our users. There are no paid advertisements on Grex.

10.  Grex is an online community. Although for many of our users, Grex is simply a place to get free E-mail or web access, for some 500 people of all ages, Grex is much more than that. It is a dynamic community where they meet and make friends, exchange ideas, and learn new things. Essentially all of our funding comes from donations from this group. Grex is only able to survive because of the dedication of the users who participate in our open forums and believe in the value of our mission.


11.  We are concerned that Cyberspace Communications and its users may be at risk of prosecution under the Act.

12.  Our computer is located in Michigan, and many of our users are Michigan residents, however many others are not residents.

13.  We request that our users give information about themselves but we do not require any information to be given. In any event, our system does not give any way of knowing if declared ages, locations, or any other information are accurate.

14.  Cyberspace Communications itself authors only a small amount of material, consisting primarily of publicity information, help pages, and technical documentation for our system. However, there are materials posted on Grex by our users which arguably might be construed as being "sexually explicit matter" under the terms of the Act. These materials are accessible by all users. Since our forums are primarily text-based, most of this is verbal material rather than images. However, users are allowed to import files to their personal areas on Grex, and some use this facility to place publicly viewable images on the system.

15.  Two examples of conference items from Grex which might be impacted by the Act are attached. Exhibit A is a discussion of pornography from the women's conference on Grex. Parts of the discussion might be considered in violation of the Act. To steer clear of arguable violations of the Act we and our users would feel much less free to speak on the subject. Exhibit B is a graphic description of a rape from the poetry conference on Grex. It was evidently posted for artistic and cathartic reasons. The responses show concern, sympathy and support. Many other possible examples could be found.

16.  Although it is not, in general, clear to us exactly what material would or would not be considered sexually explicit, we know for a fact that textual material of any conceivable description could be posted on Grex at any time, by any person. Even if all questionable material were removed from Grex, any person wishing to cause problems for us could post new material at any time. Furthermore, any person wishing to cause problems for us could stifle a discussion by claiming to be a minor.

17.  It is unclear to us to what extent, if any, the Act's exemption for computer network service providers would protect Cyberspace Communications, or what would constitute a good faith effort to inform ourselves of ages of our users or the nature of the material being exchanged among them. Clearly what kinds of monitoring would be expected from us must be different for different types of communications - for example, the Electronic Communications Privacy Act prevents us from monitoring E-mail. What are our different responsibilities with all the different media we offer? Since we allow users to install custom software on their accounts on our system, are we responsible for monitoring new communications systems created by our users?

18.  Our uncertainty about our liability under this law is aggravated by the fact that, as a matter of policy, we allow anonymous users on our system. This is essential to our mission of providing forums for open discussion.


19.  To comply with the Act, Cyberspace Communications would have to find a way to ensure that no forum which might contain sexually explicit material can be accessed by a minor. Unless all postings of sexually explicit material were completely eliminated from Grex, this would require verifying the ages of our users.

20.  We have not, as an organization, extensively studied any verification technique. Those based on credit or debit cards would be inappropriate for a free system. Given that we average over 200 new users every day, it is difficult to imagine any verification technique that would not require a full time person and/or a substantial expense, neither of which is within reach of our limited resources.


21.  Even if a method were found by which verification could be done reliably within the limitations of our resources, doing so would substantially undermine our ability to pursue our mission of providing forums for free speech and of providing free access to Internet services.

22.  Our current policy of not requiring new users to give us any information is designed to make joining the system as easy and unintimidating as possible. Many people are nervous about getting on the Internet or getting involved in a public forum. Almost any method of proving their age would require users to reveal some significant amount of personal information. Being confronted by such questions would scare off some of the users who could most benefit from our service.

23.  Such a verification procedure would also limit the ability of users to speak anonymously in our forums. We believe that having the option of speaking anonymously is an important part of free speech, and having to identify yourself to the people operating the system would for many, including people such as elected officials or battered women, limit what they were willing to say in public forums like ours.

24.  Segregating minors from other users of our system would also undermine Grex's ability to help young people develop maturity and communications skills. On-line forums are one of the few places where young people can interact with adults on an equal basis. Their ages are not obvious to other users, so they are judged by the content and quality of what they have to say. For young people, it can be wonderful to discover a world where they can be respected and treated as equals by adults simply by sharing their thoughts and behaving maturely themselves. While it is true that there are some risks when young people are mistaken for adults on-line, it would be a gross oversight to ignore the fact that it can also be an extremely enriching experience for them. Grex provides young people positive interaction with adults, interaction that is of educational value and that could not be obtained from a "kids' room."


25.  Compliance with the Act would force Cyberspace Communications to monitor all forums (because all are accessible to minors), identify "sexually explicit" material, and eliminate it.

26.  Doing this would require substantial labor, especially for the live chat channels which are continuously active 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, and which would therefore require continuous monitoring. It would be practically impossible to find volunteers who would be willing to expend that level of effort and who would be competent to make the difficult legal distinctions between material which is and is not acceptable under the Act. We do not have the resources to pay anyone to do such a job including legal services.


27.  Even if a method were found by which forums could be monitored within the limits of our resources, doing so would substantially undermine our ability to pursue our mission of providing forums for open discussion on any topic - free speech.

28.  First, any censorship of sexually explicit material for the sake of minors would have to interfere with the ability of adults to discuss such topics on our system, even though such speech is not directly prohibited by the Act.

29.  Second, because of the difficulty of determining exactly what content is "sexually explicit" any censorship by Cyberspace Communications, or self-censorship by our users, would have to be overcautious in order to avoid the threat of criminal prosecution or sanctions.

30.  This chilling effect would impact many useful discussions which touch on sexual topics and have significant social value.

31.  Certainly there has been material posted on Grex which is meant only to titillate or shock. But in our conferences no posting stands alone for long. One user's pornographic posting is likely to be followed by another user's objection to its portrayal of women. When such material appears in an open public forum, community standards - if we understand the term - are readily applied to it, not because the material is suppressed, but because upstanding members of the community are there to respond. When young people are allowed to participate in such forums, it is an excellent opportunity for them to learn to understand and respect community standards on sexuality and other issues.

32.  Young people will always seek out and find sexually explicit material. Our choice is between allowing it to happen in an open forum, where they can hear the perspective of responsible adults, or consigning it to clandestine "outlaw" forums consisting entirely of people interested only in titillation.


33.  We have no viable plan or ability to cope with this law.

34.  We have a long history of being good, law-abiding citizens of the Internet. Many of our volunteers would sever their relationships with Grex rather than be associated with an organization whose operation is legally questionable. The loss of many of our most upstanding people would irretrievably harm our community, even if we were never actually prosecuted.

35.  But at the same time, compliance with the law would appear to require that we validate our users and/or censor our discussion forums. For the reasons stated above, we are reluctant to do these things because we believe they would limit our ability to act as a forum for free speech in ways that go far beyond just restricting minors from gaining access to sexual materials. Many of our current volunteers and donors would be uninterested in supporting such a restrictive forum.

36.  But beyond that, doing these things in any meaningful manner, if it is possible at all, would require resources substantially beyond what we now have. Over our eight-year history we have demonstrated that it is possible to provide an excellent service to a very large set of people on a minuscule budget. This Act would make that impossible. It would raise the financial bar so that only organizations large and wealth enough to pay full-time staff people would be able to run public conferencing systems. For us to raise that much money we would probably need some combination of corporate sponsorship, advertising revenue, and user fees. Any of these options could significantly undermine our ability to function as an open forum for free speech on the Internet.

37.  For all of our history, we have been proud to consider ourselves to be the freest forum for speech that can be sustained under the law. If this Act is upheld, we believe that we would either have to shut down completely, or become substantially more restrictive. We do not believe that the benefits of this Act can justify so great an encroachment on the constitutional right to free speech for all Americans.

I declare, under penalty of perjury, that the foregoing is true and correct.

Executed this 25th day of June, 1999.

signed by Jan Wolter


Femme Conference, Item 34

This is a long discussion of pornography that started in March 1995, and continued through May 1997. It is available on the Internet at

Most of the discussion is not very sexually explicit, but at several points (including responses 10 and 29) things are said in the course of the discussion that might be considered to be illegal under the Act. The full item spans 157 responses - for the sake of brevity, only the first 32 are included here.

Cyberspace Communications allows users to censor their own responses (the text of censored responses is still publically available, but is moved out of the conferences). One user had used this mechanism to retract some of her postings to this item. With that user's permission we have restored them to this copy, marking them "[RESTORED]".

Item #34 entered by Mark A. Conger(aruba) on Thu Mar  2 22:10:05 1995

 A coworker of mine said today that pornography is not a problem that causes
 men to treat women as objects.  The problem, he said, is that there are some
 really *stupid* men who, after going to a topless bar, conclude that all
 women want to be treated like the women in the bar.  And does it make sense
 to, say, ban or condemn pornography because there are a few stupid people
 in the world?
    I don't know how much of that I agree with, but I wasn't quick to dismiss
 it.  The fact is that most men *can* tell the difference between a picture
 in a magazine and a real person.
    What do the rest of you think?

#1 Paul Kershaw (brighn) on Fri Mar  3 01:08:08 1995:
 Pornography is a problem only inasmuch as it is a symptom of general
 social maliase about sex.

 I stopped playing Doom because I became hostile after playing it.  It
 struck a chord in me.  I have seen it affect others quite the opposite.
 I am not going down to yon Softward Dealers Associates because my
 personality is incompatible with Doom.  I simply don't play.

 My problem with pornograhpy comes about when the models are being
 forced into it.  There is nothing wrong with a woman (or a man)
 creating sexual explicit fantasies for money or pleasure.  The
 issue of objectification leading to rape (especially date rape)
 is one of people not being able to separate fantasy from reality.
 If we ban pornography *for that reason*, we nned to ban Bugs Bunny
 so that people won't go around dropping anvils on each others' heads.

 There... was that suitably incoherent.

#2 Mary Remmers (chelsea) on Sat Mar  4 08:59:56 1995:
 I consider pornography a slightly different form of masturbation. Instead
 of simply imagining a body for sexual gratification there is a picture or
 photograph or story to help the fantasy along. And as long as the author
 or models weren't coerced into producing the material there is no victim.

#3 Valerie Mates (popcorn) on Sun Mar  5 08:19:40 1995:
 I guess I've run into too many of the type of guy who can't separate fantasy
 from reality, pornography-wise.  I feel very uncomfortable knowing that
 people look at pornography and then interact with me in the real world.  It
 makes me feel that they're imagining me, as a female, somehow combined with
 the images they've been looking at, which (though it's not entirely sensible
 on my part) feels to me like an invasion of my privacy.

#4 Sweet Pea (simcha) on Mon Mar  6 08:33:38 1995:
 valerie, there are men who like real women better than magazine
 glossies who make you uncomfortable...they don't read
 porno magazines but can undress you with their eyes.  I know
 pronography when I see it and I know a gentleman when I meet one.

 Just can't defne either perfectly tho'!

 To me, anything etween truly consenting adults is okay.  Children
 arent' ok when it comes to sex.  But anthing else, I don't care what
 a person looks at.  And I don't think porno makes someone behave badly...
 we're responsible for our actions, thus we can choose our behaviors
 (tho it can affect attitudes).

#5 Dr. Teeth and the Eclectic Mayhem (omni) on Tue Mar  7 01:58:07 1995:
  I've always thought of Valerie as a person, and not a sex symbol. Which
 is typical of my thinking when it comes to women. I think mags such as
 Playboy and Penthouse degrade women from what they should be: People first

#6 Veena Chowdhuri (miranda) on Tue Mar 28 14:44:27 1995:
 Pornography is sexual junk food.  Most guys I've dated have a copy
 of Playboy or some of the other mags, I don't feel that I've been
 treated any differently.  Canada is, unfortunately, is more paternal-
 istic in it's treatement[A

#7 Veena Chowdhuri (miranda) on Tue Mar 28 15:07:55 1995:
 Pornography is sexual junk food.  Most guys with whom I have gone out
 have a copy of Playboy or something like that lying around (I am told
 that they buy it for the articles), but I don't think that I have bee
 objectified as a result.  Canada is, unfortunately, more paternalistic
 with regards to pornography because of arguments that pictures of
 consenting adults participating in sexual activity are somehow demeaning
 to men and women.  I could never understand why.  If a man sees me only
 as a body, I don't want to know him but I don't think that it is
 pornography that makes him a jerk.

#8 Mark A. Conger (aruba) on Tue Mar 28 19:39:13 1995:
 Yes!  That's exactly the point my coworker was making in

#9 Elckerlyc (clees) on Wed Apr 10 07:19:24 1996:
 Pornography is called considered vile and low when people call it
 as such. It all comes down to values and standards. But I agree
 that pornography is pornography when the human body is
 exploited for money. Money never is and will be a good motive
 to start actions from.
 That less developed people can change their attitudeas a rsult of such,
 is in my point of view a rather sad case.
 Personally I couldn't care less for pictures/movies/videos containing
 explicit sexual acts. Doesn't turn me on a bit. A person, on the other
 hand, might.

#10 Mary Remmers (chelsea) on Wed Apr 10 08:38:35 1996:
 Do you ever go to work in the morning and stay all day simply
 because you need the money?  Isn't that vile, doing something
 simply for the cash-ola?  Heck,  I bet there are wives out there
 fucking their husbands just to keep the home scene from blowing
 up.  Is the wife exploiting her body?  And who are "less developed

#11 Mmmm, Lettuce! (beeswing) on Wed Apr 10 19:18:52 1996:
 I dunno. I just don't think that anything positive cAn come from pornography.

#12 Marc (mcpoz) on Wed Apr 10 21:21:46 1996:
 re: #11 - agree - but a lot bad can come from it.  It is dehumanizing.

#13 Mmmm, Lettuce! (beeswing) on Thu Apr 11 01:24:08 1996:
 I think so too mcpoz. What I really woner about is the women (and men) who
 decied to be part of it, by being dancers, in magazines, in movies. From what
 I have heard, dancers can make good money. But why do women have to resort
 to flashing their boobs  in order to do well financially? I don't know about
 it making it influence someone's behavior exactly... but how can it  build
 up a person? How would it make you a better person? It won't. And I learned
 a long time ago that there is a concept of GIGO... Garbage In, Garbage OUt.

 I watched Beavis and Buthead for awhile and realized I was screaming
 "fartknocker" and "buttmunch" when I encountered bad drivers on the highway.
 Not intelligent, I admit. But just 30 minutes a day impacted me that much.

 I hear the "It's ok for adults" thing a lot too. But parents, think about
 it... would you want your son/daughter watching this later on, or being a part
 of it? Hell no. The last thing you'd imagine is your son, whom you raised to
 be moral and appreciate the good in things, slobbering and getting excited
 over a porn movie or in a theater, with women portraying the ultimate sex
 object role. They're going to tolerate what we tolerate.

#14 Mark A. Conger (aruba) on Thu Apr 11 01:56:38 1996:
 Re #11:  How can anything good come out of bungi jumping, or snorkeling,
 or looking at a famous painting?  Do they make someone a better person?
 Yet these are not things we regard with disgust.  Your last paragraph in
 #13, beeswing, seems like a blatant attempt to push people's buttons
 without providing any real compelling arguments.  Kind of reminds me of
 Pat Buchanan.

#15 Mmmm, Lettuce! (beeswing) on Thu Apr 11 17:40:35 1996: [RESTORED]
 Positive things can come friom bungee jumping... you are overcoming a fear
 of doing something you didn't thikn you could do (tho i don't see why!).
 Snorkeling can be positive... seeing a whole new world under the ocean. A
 painting can spark imagination and inspiration. So yes, all these can make
 a better person. How can you compare any of this to a topless bar?

 Do not use Pat Buchanan's name and my login id in the same paragraph. My
 blatant attempt was my opinion, and a way TO MAKE PEOPLE THINK, if they so
 want to. I can't push people's buttons. People make a choice to be angry or
 write um, defensive responses. I don't make anyone feel anything. I find the
 math item in agora furiously irritating and futile, so I skip over it.
 Unless youcan read my mind, you can't ever know my motives, or if I even have

 And while I'm at it... How abou that restaurant chain Hooters? It seems that
 sexism is ok. I mean if I were to open a restaurant , call it "Darkies", and
 hire only black waitstaff, I'd be shut down in a second! I'd incur wrath frm
 the Black community, and rightfully so. It would be blatantly sick and racist.
 But here is basically the same thing with women, and it's perfectly ok. The
 Hooters I drive by on the way home from work is always packed.

#16 Marc (mcpoz) on Thu Apr 11 21:01:17 1996:
 I think most forms of "risk-taking" are dangerous and it is hard to quantify
 the good from it.  If the adrenaline rush of bungee jumping outweighs the
 risks of becoming an omlette or micro-stroking, then so be it. 

#17 Mmmm, Lettuce! (beeswing) on Thu Apr 11 21:25:59 1996:
 Ah, perhaps. But snoerkeling is relatively safe, as is liooking at paintings.

#18 Mary Remmers (chelsea) on Thu Apr 11 23:25:04 1996:
 I don't tend to think of strippers as garbage.  Or the people who
 go to see them as losers.  Or acts of erotica as immoral.  Or any
 sexual acts between consenting adults as wrong.  Pornography is
 obviously very enjoyable material for some and if a woman is victimized
 by involvement in the industry then she was a victim in waiting and
 if it wasn't porn flicks it would have been something else she would
 have found to abuse herself.

#19 Mmmm, Lettuce! (beeswing) on Fri Apr 12 00:00:17 1996:
 I didn't say strippers were garbage. Just in a very defeating occupation, for
 themselves and for womankind. I don't think they are all victims in waiting.
 Some may stumble into in, some may be lured by the money it pays. I admire
 anyone who works to, say, feed their kids, it's just sad that this is what
 some women have to do in order to earn teh money to do so. beats prostitution
 I guess, but still. And it seems the porn industry is what leads to the drug
 use, the prostitution, and so forth. Not for everyone... but it hapens a lot.

#20 Mark A. Conger (aruba) on Fri Apr 12 02:00:43 1996:
 Re #15:  I still don't see the distinction between the activities I cited
 and pornography.  All are entertainment.  There's no accounting for taste.

 As for my inflammatory comparison between you and Pat Buchanan, of course
 I can't read minds - I call 'em like I see 'em.  Your statement read like
 an attempt at manipulation to me.  The fact that people are responsible
 for their own reactions (I agree with you there) does not mean there is no
 such thing as manipulation.

 I'm afraid I don't see the connection between the Agora math item and this

#21 Valerie Mates (popcorn) on Fri Apr 12 02:36:13 1996:
 As I see it, pornography hurts women in a way that those other forms of art

#22 Mmmm, Lettuce! (beeswing) on Fri Apr 12 10:52:28 1996:
 You don't see the connection in the same way I don't see the connection
 between Picasso and porno. Valerie says it the best in #21. And as for
 manpulation, I can't force that either. People choose to interpret it that
 way and act accordingly.

#23 igor von heiniken (iggy) on Fri Apr 12 18:22:27 1996:
 and, on a similar subject:
 why is it ok to have sex with someone, and ok for you to
 just give someone money, but not ok to combine the two?
 i really do not understand why prostitution is illegal.
 who is it hurting?

#24 Marc (mcpoz) on Fri Apr 12 18:58:52 1996:
 The issue of Porno goes back to how you perceive other people, as humans or
 objects.  I don't know if I can explain this clearly and to everyones
 satisfaction, but consider the following:

 A)  You are a bright young female professional.  You work in an office with
     both men and women.  Your supervisor is a male who is a connoisseur of
     Pornography, topless bars, etc. 

     Would you be willing to trust him in guiding your career development and
     not worry about how he perceives/treats you?  Do you think this person
     will give you the same opportunities as the males?  Is it conceivable that
     he can "turn off that interest" or keep it from clouding his judgement
     when he decides who gets the big promotion, raise, etc? 

 B)  YOu find out that your children's grade school teacher is very much into
     porno.  Do you have second thoughts about keeping them there?

 I guess the point I am trying to make is this dehumanizing has the net effect
 of supporting the sexist activities result in things like glass ceilings.

 Ok, off the soap box again.

#25 Mary Remmers (chelsea) on Sat Apr 13 09:30:25 1996:
 A. Yes, as much as I'd trust anyone I knew so casually or in such
    in limited role.  As long as he keeps his sexual preferences out
    of the work place I have no problem with this.

 B. Yes, as long as he or she is a good teacher what's the deal?  I
    also wouldn't have a problem with a teacher who was a right-wing
    religious zealot as long as those beliefs were kept out of the
    curriculum and didn't become part of the classroom experience.

 Both women and men enjoy pornography.  It's not bad or dirty.  Like
 a lot of things though it's very tempting to see it as wrong for
 society if it's wrong for you, personally.

 And I agree with igor, prostitution should be legalized.

#26 Mmmm, Lettuce! (beeswing) on Sat Apr 13 18:49:21 1996:
 Sex is not bad or dirty, provided it's in a loving, adult relationship. Porn,
 where it's twisted into nothing but selfish gratitfication and objectivity...
 and sometimes abuse... is bad. And reducing the human body down to an object
 with no dignity is dirty. I can't stop a person from buying PLayboy or going
 to topless bars. I can't, and wouldn't burn the porn magazines and videos.
 It does have the right to be there, but it's a sad commentary on our culture
 that it is there.

 Whatt I think mcpoz was getting at (and I aplogize 10,000 times over if I am
 wrong) is that those who frequent topless bars and such obviously like the
 idea of objectifying people, and most often  women. Someone who likes to see
 the woman in the "service" role of a lap-dancing, "what can I do for you"
 arena can't have all that much respect for them. I know women can objectify
 men as well, but look at the ratio of men's bars as opposed to places where
 women could go. ... maybe the Chippendales come by every year or so.
 Coincidence? I think not.

#27 Mark A. Conger (aruba) on Sat Apr 13 21:01:50 1996:
 I disagree 100% with the conclusion in that last paragraph.  It's quite
 possible to be a mature enough person to separate fantasy from real life:
 to enjoy pornography and not objectify people in real life.  That's the
 point my co-worker was making in #0.

#28 Marc (mcpoz) on Sat Apr 13 21:14:24 1996:
 I agree it is "quite possible."  Now what percent of the people achieve that

#29 Mary Remmers (chelsea) on Sun Apr 14 00:08:31 1996:
 When a woman is standing over a man, her breasts in his face,
 his heart racing, his penis standing at attention, and his hands
 stuffing his hard earned money into her G-string, who is it
 exactly who is "objectifying"?  Who lords the most control over
 the other, the dancer or the guy sweating testosterone?

 Me thinks we're doing another Woman as Victim item here.  It
 comes so naturally.

#30 Mmmm, Lettuce! (beeswing) on Sun Apr 14 00:08:51 1996: [RESTORED]
 Few. It doesn't make sense to me that "I'll just objectify them  here and
 now." How can one do that for a long period of time, and not have it spill
 over? Enjoying women the most when they're subservient to your needs?

#31 Mmmm, Lettuce! (beeswing) on Sun Apr 14 01:47:29 1996: [RESTORED]
 He is getting of on having a woman be a sex object to him. Will he get teh
 same response if a woman does well in her job? No. So does that mean it
 doesn't t count?

 Women aren't the only victims in this. I feel bad for the men who feel this
 is what they need to do to be satisfied... see it reduced to its lowest level.
 That's what they want to settle for? Don't they have more respect for
 themselves and women than that?

 I don't like it because I don't want to be seen as a victim, and I dont' want
 to see another woman be victimized by porn. And the idea that women are just
 being whiny or playing the victims role by actually getting upset at being
 reduced and demeaned to objects... and being accused of this by other women...
 is a sign that either the accuser does not realize she is in the status she's
 in, or at worst, doesn't care. How convenient to reap the denefits of feminism
 while putting down your own kind and the force that got you where you are.

#32 Marc (mcpoz) on Sun Apr 14 07:59:39 1996:
 I don't have the power of expression that some people have, but I have not
 made my point clear.  I am not disputing this on an individual basis, or on
 the basis of whether men or women are exclusively guilty of "dehumanizing."

 My point was that it has a great societal effect and because of the fact that
 males dominate the power structure, women may not be allowed to achieve their
 potential.  If a woman objectifies a man, it does not carry over into the
 education system, the workplace, the society in general as much as the reverse


Poetry Conference, Item 22

This is an item entered in the Poetry conference in February 1999. It is available on the Internet at
Item #22 entered by zoe frost (zoe) on Thu Feb  4 19:34:22 1999
 a haunting past....

 "now take this.."
 pushed to the ground,
 crushed by 190 pounds of sheer anger...
 held down--
 helpless and small...
 "now you'll get what you want,"
 "i know exactly what you want.."
 screaming gives me bruises,
 crying gets me a broken nose...
 never ending--
 painful motions,
 being driven into the dirt...
 "this is what you like, isn't it?"
 "you think you're so perfect, well i don't see it.."
 whimpering under my breath..
 is this what i'm here for...
 please let this end,
 please let it go away...
 i slash his face
 a blade to my throat..
 heavy breathing--
 i have stirred the demons within him a little too much..
 "you fucking whore.."
 "you fucking bitch!!!"
 thrown head-first into a cold brick wall,
 unconcious and left for dead...
 take away this horror--
 let me live as i once did...
 make his aweful face disappear from my nightmares...
 let me be whole again.

27 responses total.

#1 zoe frost (zoe) on Thu Feb  4 19:40:24 1999:
 i thought i'd feel better after i posted this... i've had this in my
 head for too long, its about time i let go and try to go back to life..
 i don't know... it's not very poetic, but its been eating away at my
 soul, one of the many monsters inside me that i needed to expose.. and
 joe, i told you it wasn't pleasant so don't be all weird with me.

#2 Julie Pratt (bookworm) on Thu Feb  4 23:48:58 1999:
 Good heavens, Zoe.  This poem is very emotional.  Obviously, you and Joe
 are poets of the same school.  Did posting this help you feel better?

#3 Joe Parish (toking) on Fri Feb  5 05:44:01 1999:
 define wierd

 I think mayhap we should discuss this, elsewhere, but we should discuss

#4 Jon the Arborean (lumen) on Fri Feb  5 18:42:58 1999:
 Saints have mercy.  I hope this isn't real-life inspired?

 you may reply privately by e-mail, if you direct address is in
 my .plan file.

 Good heavens, this is creepy.  Zoe, I hope you do know that we care
 here, and we are supportive if you are writing about real life events.
 (Poetry can be very theraputic.)

#5 speaking (cloud) on Fri Feb  5 20:06:07 1999:
 On the other hand, if everyone is falling into the trap of Biographical
 >Fallicy, than you have my permission, as mr. Mannors, to tell 'em to shove
 >off.  Actually, you have my permission to anyway.
 >Guys, can you please focus on the poem alone and try not to read into the
 >author's life from it?  It can be rather damaging, in my oh so humble
 >opinion.  See, I'll sometimes post something that is _partially_ based on
 >life, partially not.  If someone starts speculating that the peice in
 >is really about me, I tend to be embarressed into not entering new items.

 And yes, I have read the poem.  Generally speaking I, too, find it very
 disconcerting, owing to the strong language, intense pace, and taboo- nay,
 shocking,- subject matter.  I can't honestly say I like it, but I get the
 feeling that this isn't a piece to be liked, if you see my point.

#6 zoe frost (zoe) on Sat Feb  6 23:20:07 1999:
 life is pain...

#7 EA Poe (logansan) on Sun Feb  7 16:58:00 1999:
 	My fellow poet/artist .... I offer you what ever little comfort I
 might. my best wishes and toughts. There is more to life than pain. Your words
 have done so much for me, even this peice of raw force, blunt trama .... it's
 taken me close to two days to get back here to make a 'r'.
 	You are one of the best, zoe frost, I salute you.
 				signed; John

#8 speaking (cloud) on Sun Feb  7 19:02:31 1999:

 "Anyone who tells you differently is trying to sell you something," eh?

#9 Julie Pratt (bookworm) on Sun Feb  7 19:36:28 1999:
 Amen.   A moment of silence in memory of the loss of
 our innocence, please.

#10 zoe frost (zoe) on Mon Feb  8 10:14:56 1999:
 i hope you all realize that i'm afraid to post stuff now, since you
 have high expectations....

#11 Paul Kershaw (brighn) on Mon Feb  8 10:54:48 1999:
 Pain is pain.
 Life is life.
 Life has pain.
 Pain has life.
 Life is not pain.
 Pain is not life.

 And when my innocence died, I lit a bonfire and had a party.
 Innocence ain't anything like what it's cracked up to be.

#12 zoe frost (zoe) on Mon Feb  8 11:05:01 1999:
 it matters who's life you're living i supose...

#13 Allida (allida) on Mon Feb  8 14:30:46 1999:
 no it only matters how one perceives one's life as to whether it is indeed
 pain instead of just having pain in it. 

#14 Julie Pratt (bookworm) on Mon Feb  8 14:36:14 1999:
 Don't let the criticism of the masses stop you from posting, Zoe.  Take
 it as constructive or, if you don't like it, ignore it. 

 On the other hand, you don't have to post if you don't want to. 
 However, we'll be less for it because we won't have your brilliant
 poetry to read anymore.

 Is that as clear as mud?

#15 Jon the Arborean (lumen) on Mon Feb  8 17:31:08 1999:
 re: resp:5  Please do not take what I said the wrong way; when I read a
 very disturbing poem, I tend to take it very seriously unless the author
 says that he/she is detached from the poem in some way.

 Joe posted a story once where the main character killed a hitchhiker in
 cold blood.  He explained he had absolutely no experience in killing.

 I frequently use poetry to express my fears, frustrations, and various
 moods, mixed as they sometimes can be from time to time.  I've also been
 in therapy for a long time, long enough that I take notice when someone
 posts something melancholy.

 Zoe, please don't think I criticized you-- from the most bitter trials
 and hardship come the sweetest fruits.  Sometimes, rose bushes won't
 grow well unless you dig the whole sucker up, turn it 180 degrees, and
 replant it.  Please do not think that we expect differently from you. 
 We have been very impressed, and no one would think less of you if you
 didn't always write your best poetry.

#16 zoe frost (zoe) on Mon Feb  8 19:03:19 1999:
 i didn't take anything personally.. fear not, for i'd rather spend all
 day on the poetry confrence <> than anything else..
 citisim or not..
 this was just a painful thought that i've been holding since childhood
 that i needed to share.. it wasn't to be liked... it was like life;
 cold, harsh facts dished out for the sake of itself.

#17 Joe Parish (toking) on Tue Feb  9 12:12:18 1999:
 "it was like life;
  cold, harsh facts dished out for the sake of itself. "

 If I ever write a book, I'm stealing this line and using it as the firs
 and last in the book.

#18 zoe frost (zoe) on Tue Feb  9 14:45:18 1999:
 i'm honored you see so much in my words..

#19 Julie Pratt (bookworm) on Wed Feb 10 00:46:43 1999:
 we *All* see a lot in your words.

#20 Paul Kershaw (brighn) on Wed Feb 10 10:52:48 1999:
 don't speak for all of us, Julie

#21 Jon the Arborean (lumen) on Thu Feb 11 01:31:15 1999:
 why-- you don't agree, Paul?

 I can see why Joe wants to steal that line-- it's very eloquent.

#22 Paul Kershaw (brighn) on Thu Feb 11 17:38:37 1999:
 I don't like being spoken for, Jon.
 Beyond that, I'm not going to comment.

#23 Jon the Arborean (lumen) on Fri Feb 12 14:43:30 1999:
 s'ok, Paul, I understand-- I was just curious.  As for Julie, she likes
 to sound as supportive as she can.

#24 Joe Parish (toking) on Wed Feb 17 13:37:22 1999:
 (linked to the new poetry conf)

#25 Julie the Arborean (bookworm) on Mon Feb 22 02:28:47 1999:
 okay, okay. 

 I apologize, Paul.

 It wasn't my intention to be offensive.

 Still, *don't* you find meaning in her words?

#26 Paul Kershaw (brighn) on Mon Feb 22 12:37:08 1999:
 I don't think it's fair to ask qa question that I've already strongly implied
 I don't wish to answer publicly.

#27 Julie Pratt (bookworm) on Mon Feb 22 16:57:52 1999:
 Sorry for pushing.