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A form letter response to Porn and Popcorn

On Monday I wrote to the Purdue Student Union Board about the problems with the Porn and Popcorn event. I thought I may have slightly better luck since I somewhat know the President (had a couple classes together, are Facebook friends, will wave hello when we pass, etc). Here’s my email:

This past Friday I and approximately 25 members of the Society of Non-Theists attended Porn and Popcorn, an event cosponsored by the Stewart Cooperative and (according to the flyers) PSUB. I am writing you because I am very disappointed that PSUB decided to sponsor such an event, as it seems against its purpose to “Present programs designed to meet current entertainment, cultural, recreational, social, and educational needs of students.” I have two major complaints about the event:

1. No part of the event was based on factual or scientific information even though it claimed to be education. They presented gross misconceptions and outright lies about human sexuality to young adults, individuals who need proper health information the most. They went as far as saying that “Protective sex is a joke” and that you would get diseases and pregnant no matter what sort of contraception you used, which is simply a falsehood. It appalls me that such dangerous information could be connected to PSUB‘s name, especially when Purdue University and PUSH work so hard to educate Purdue students about sex. If anything, this was detrimental to the educational needs of the students.

2. The event slandered non-Christian students by stating that “To connect with an unbeliever is to connect with the devil” and “If he can’t be a faithful to God, he can’t be faithful to you.” As an atheist and the President of the Society of Non-Theists, I am extremely concerned that PSUB would sponsor an event that told downright lies about a significant percentage of Purdue’s student body. Their discussion that non-believers are of the devil and are certainly going to cheat on their significant other is troubling, and hopefully you can understand why. In addition to this, when the speaker was asking questions about audience member’s boyfriends and girlfriends, and asked if anyone had a “crazy drama girlfriend,” two of our female members raised their hands. A student then walked by and called our group “Faggots.” I know neither Stewart nor PSUB can control audience members, but this sort of “If you’re not a straight sex-abstaining Christian, there’s something wrong” attitude seemed to be the main theme of the event. I understand that the majority of Purdue students are Christians, and thus PSUB will likely sponsor Christian programming, but I am disappointed that this event was not welcoming to non-Christians.

I in no way want to ban further Christian events from being held at Purdue – they have every right to have their voice heard – but it worries me that PSUB, which is supposed to represent the student body as a whole, was associated with such an event. Thank you for listening to my concerns, and hopefully these problems won’t occur again in the future.

Jennifer McCreight
[email protected]

Unfortunately, all I got in response was a form email:

Dear Jennifer,

Thank you for your interest in campus programming at Purdue and your concerns in regards to the Porn and Popcorn event. Part of PSUB’s mission is to promote student programming on campus that enrich and entertain and recognize the campus’ diversity of interests. One way we meet this mission is by offering co-sponsorship opportunities to other student organizations seeking to hold programs on campus. We provided monetary support to the Stewart Co-operative Council for this event to help promote campus programming. The information they provided on their co-sponsorship application met our requirements and so the event co-sponsorship was granted by our Board of Directors. If you would like to further view the co-sponsorship guidelines and application, it can be found on our website at union.purdue.edu/psub.

Thanks again for your interest and concerns and I’m sorry you did not enjoy the event.

Wow, talk about a non response. So it’s totally okay that they provided misinformation and lies about sex and non-Christians because they didn’t include those things on the forms? Is there absolutely no consequences for people who do such things, or is it that once you get PSUB’s money you can do whatever you want with it? They apologized for me not having fun (even though the event did amuse me, but not they way they intended), but didn’t apologize for anything that really mattered.

I think it’s time for a letter to our student newspaper.

Comments

  1. says

    Newspaper is the way to go. This reminds me of the emails I have sent to one of my congressmen. I talked about the separation of church and state and also how the US was a founded as a secular nation citing specific examples from our founding fathers of their non-belief in the Christian deity. I got a form letter back stating that the US was a Christian nation founded by Christians. AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARGH!!!!

  2. says

    Newspaper is the way to go. This reminds me of the emails I have sent to one of my congressmen. I talked about the separation of church and state and also how the US was a founded as a secular nation citing specific examples from our founding fathers of their non-belief in the Christian deity. I got a form letter back stating that the US was a Christian nation founded by Christians. AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARGH!!!!

  3. says

    Unfortunately, many of these “student unions and councils” are bureocratic in nature. Go for the newspaper! Screw ‘em… and if possible, hand out flyers or place posters informing the “misleading information” of that activity…

  4. says

    Unfortunately, many of these "student unions and councils" are bureocratic in nature. Go for the newspaper! Screw 'em… and if possible, hand out flyers or place posters informing the "misleading information" of that activity…

  5. says

    The person who received your email was probably someone who felt your complaints held no real importance (perhaps in part due to your admission to being a non-theist) and just sent you a standard “Thanks for writing, but we really don’t care” form letter, hoping that you would just go away. Most people would probably say you shouldn’t have bothered going since you already had suspicions about what was going to be said there – the old “Why bother if you don’t agree?” argument. Perhaps you should make sure you address both of these issues (the apathetic disregard for your well thought out complaints and the “Why bother” argument) in your newspaper article. I think your arguments against the event are correct and should not be ignored, but those who are theists could probably do with a little more convincing to see things your way.

  6. vwadmin says

    The person who received your email was probably someone who felt your complaints held no real importance (perhaps in part due to your admission to being a non-theist) and just sent you a standard "Thanks for writing, but we really don't care" form letter, hoping that you would just go away. Most people would probably say you shouldn't have bothered going since you already had suspicions about what was going to be said there – the old "Why bother if you don't agree?" argument. Perhaps you should make sure you address both of these issues (the apathetic disregard for your well thought out complaints and the "Why bother" argument) in your newspaper article. I think your arguments against the event are correct and should not be ignored, but those who are theists could probably do with a little more convincing to see things your way.

  7. says

    I think it’s time for a letter to our student newspaper.”Which is what you should’ve done to begin with, before even sending that (wonderfully-worded) letter to the President. That way, you kick the doors of communication open from the get-go by inciting a reaction, rather than giving those in charge the opportunity to simply sweep it all under the rug.

  8. says

    I think it's time for a letter to our student newspaper.

    Which is what you should’ve done to begin with, before even sending that (wonderfully-worded) letter to the President. That way, you kick the doors of communication open from the get-go by inciting a reaction, rather than giving those in charge the opportunity to simply sweep it all under the rug.

  9. says

    This is why Jen should be listening to the anonymous people who post comments on her blog. Those guys gave you a total fuckup as a repsonse. It’s blatantly. Painfully. Completely obvious that they just don’t give a flying fuck about the content they are providing to Purdue students, which is something that should be their top priority.

  10. says

    This is why Jen should be listening to the anonymous people who post comments on her blog. Those guys gave you a total fuckup as a repsonse. It's blatantly. Painfully. Completely obvious that they just don't give a flying fuck about the content they are providing to Purdue students, which is something that should be their top priority.

  11. says

    What about starting up range of counter-talks on it?? “Porn and Popcorn: The Other Side of the Story”… Get campus groups throughout the nation to have genuine talks on human sexuality… If we can find an expert in the field to come I’m sure we could get the IPFW group to do one!

  12. says

    What about starting up range of counter-talks on it?? "Porn and Popcorn: The Other Side of the Story"… Get campus groups throughout the nation to have genuine talks on human sexuality… If we can find an expert in the field to come I'm sure we could get the IPFW group to do one!

  13. mcbender says

    Wow, that’s quite the non-response. Seems to me like publicizing that (in a place that the student body in general will be inclined to read, not just here) might be enough to start the ball rolling.

  14. mcbender says

    Wow, that's quite the non-response. Seems to me like publicizing that (in a place that the student body in general will be inclined to read, not just here) might be enough to start the ball rolling.

  15. says

    Jen, I understand your concerns behind the event. It was blatant ignorance at its finest and we all know it. However, I don’t see where PSUB is doing anything contrary to their constitution. They’re presenting programs to promote basically anything that is in somewhat high demand in the student body. The sheer number of people that showed up to the Popcorn and Porn event is enough to justify that PSUB acted in accordance with its constitution.Nowhere is it stated that PSUB must defend the truth or act in support of the truth. A world that holds cultural diversity in high esteem is one that really cares not for truth, but for the nicety of diversity, which appears to be a core value of PSUB. PSUB supports the student body as a whole by supporting the individual sections of the body, even if some of those sections are in direct conflict, like atheists and Christians. Maybe I’m very wrong about what PSUB strives to be. I mean, I didn’t exactly interact with the group, nor did I hear much about them during my stint at Purdue (I wasn’t the most social of butterflies). Regardless, after reading their constitution, PSUB just strikes me as another soundboard for whatever floats the popular vote.As a consolation, perhaps PSUB will sponsor an event by the Society of Non-Theists, which will no doubt contain some type of slander/offensive material toward some religion (the difference, of course, is that our slander is well-rooted in good evidence). Should it matter to PSUB which side the slander is slung on? Both sides are significant sections in the student body. PSUB will provide support for both.Truth be damned when it’s entertainment and cultural “enrichment” that PSUB wants.My point is: Why should PSUB care? They are, by definition, a soundboard.

  16. says

    Jen, I understand your concerns behind the event. It was blatant ignorance at its finest and we all know it. However, I don't see where PSUB is doing anything contrary to their constitution. They're presenting programs to promote basically anything that is in somewhat high demand in the student body. The sheer number of people that showed up to the Popcorn and Porn event is enough to justify that PSUB acted in accordance with its constitution.

    Nowhere is it stated that PSUB must defend the truth or act in support of the truth. A world that holds cultural diversity in high esteem is one that really cares not for truth, but for the nicety of diversity, which appears to be a core value of PSUB. PSUB supports the student body as a whole by supporting the individual sections of the body, even if some of those sections are in direct conflict, like atheists and Christians.

    Maybe I'm very wrong about what PSUB strives to be. I mean, I didn't exactly interact with the group, nor did I hear much about them during my stint at Purdue (I wasn't the most social of butterflies). Regardless, after reading their constitution, PSUB just strikes me as another soundboard for whatever floats the popular vote.

    As a consolation, perhaps PSUB will sponsor an event by the Society of Non-Theists, which will no doubt contain some type of slander/offensive material toward some religion (the difference, of course, is that our slander is well-rooted in good evidence). Should it matter to PSUB which side the slander is slung on? Both sides are significant sections in the student body. PSUB will provide support for both.

    Truth be damned when it's entertainment and cultural "enrichment" that PSUB wants.

    My point is: Why should PSUB care? They are, by definition, a soundboard.

  17. says

    I don’t know what the statistics are, but I’d venture a guess that Christians are in fact more likely to cheat on their boy-/girlfriends (isn’t forgiveness wonderful?!).Of course, if you ever said that out loud at an event you’d be brought to (student) trial and kicked out for hatespeech.

  18. says

    I don't know what the statistics are, but I'd venture a guess that Christians are in fact more likely to cheat on their boy-/girlfriends (isn't forgiveness wonderful?!).

    Of course, if you ever said that out loud at an event you'd be brought to (student) trial and kicked out for hatespeech.

  19. Anonymous says

    I like Joel’s idea – staging a counter presentation with a title like “porn and popcorn – the REAL story with actual facts” might be good.Plus it’ll really piss the other group off! :)Joe Agnost.

  20. Anonymous says

    I like Joel's idea – staging a counter presentation with a title like "porn and popcorn – the REAL story with actual facts" might be good.

    Plus it'll really piss the other group off! :)

    Joe Agnost.

  21. says

    JeremiahMaybe they are a soundboard in practice, but they are a soundboard with the power to decide what gets funded and what does not, which means they have the responsibility to make sure that students are getting what is RIGHT. Usually, this is not an issue, and so the effect is that students also get what they WANT, but try telling parents and donors that PSUB is contributing to unwanted pregnancies and STDs. They should be righteously angry.

  22. says

    Jeremiah

    Maybe they are a soundboard in practice, but they are a soundboard with the power to decide what gets funded and what does not, which means they have the responsibility to make sure that students are getting what is RIGHT. Usually, this is not an issue, and so the effect is that students also get what they WANT, but try telling parents and donors that PSUB is contributing to unwanted pregnancies and STDs. They should be righteously angry.

  23. says

    Sure, the students should be indignant. And ideally, organizations should be responsible for the truth.I guess I just think that writing a letter to PSUB wasn’t the way to go. But that’s fine, because Jen’s writing a letter to the Exponent, which should work out brilliantly (the letters were the only thing in the Exponent that I read on a consistent basis, and they were definitely popular with my friends). Good way to try to incite student anger.Ultimately you gotta change the minds of students, not the way a soundboard works.

  24. says

    Sure, the students should be indignant. And ideally, organizations should be responsible for the truth.

    I guess I just think that writing a letter to PSUB wasn't the way to go. But that's fine, because Jen's writing a letter to the Exponent, which should work out brilliantly (the letters were the only thing in the Exponent that I read on a consistent basis, and they were definitely popular with my friends). Good way to try to incite student anger.

    Ultimately you gotta change the minds of students, not the way a soundboard works.

  25. Anonymous says

    You really need to hold your own event, almost exactly like the Porn and Popcorn event, but with honest information and maybe a few pokes at the Christians, like the fact that the most religious states have the highest teen pregnancy rates (It’s the small number of atheists rebelling and having 20 babies each no doubt).Fight fire with fire.

  26. Anonymous says

    You really need to hold your own event, almost exactly like the Porn and Popcorn event, but with honest information and maybe a few pokes at the Christians, like the fact that the most religious states have the highest teen pregnancy rates (It's the small number of atheists rebelling and having 20 babies each no doubt).

    Fight fire with fire.

  27. Anonymous says

    While some of the claims you all have as to the dishonesty of this message may stand…to say the entire thing was a farse and a waste is equally false. This event was to bring awareness to a growing issue (the porn industry/pornography) and to try and give us an inside look on how it affects peoples lives. We cannot control the audience responce…and the guy who made the comment was extremely innapropriate…but the message as a whole was sound…and i think many of your claims were a bit harsh/biased…I personally didnt know why i chose to attend that night…but it opened my eyes to what I had been supporting…and I am glad they did…it may not fit perfectly with what you believe…but it was there to help the students…and I think it did a good job of that

  28. Anonymous says

    While some of the claims you all have as to the dishonesty of this message may stand…to say the entire thing was a farse and a waste is equally false. This event was to bring awareness to a growing issue (the porn industry/pornography) and to try and give us an inside look on how it affects peoples lives. We cannot control the audience responce…and the guy who made the comment was extremely innapropriate…but the message as a whole was sound…and i think many of your claims were a bit harsh/biased…I personally didnt know why i chose to attend that night…but it opened my eyes to what I had been supporting…and I am glad they did…it may not fit perfectly with what you believe…but it was there to help the students…and I think it did a good job of that

  29. says

    How hard could it be to find several strippers and porn stars who like their jobs, plus sex-positive psychologists and sex educators?The trick here is to do exactly what the other group did. Seek funding from PSUB by filling out the bare minimum amount of info on the forms. When an uptight Christian complains, PSUB can send them the same form letter you received.

  30. Troy Payne says

    How hard could it be to find several strippers and porn stars who like their jobs, plus sex-positive psychologists and sex educators?

    The trick here is to do exactly what the other group did. Seek funding from PSUB by filling out the bare minimum amount of info on the forms. When an uptight Christian complains, PSUB can send them the same form letter you received.

  31. Anonymous says

    Regardless of whether or not this event was rightly or wrongly sponsored, is it right to post hate messages about it?Should we be slandering the beliefs of others even if they slander ours? Is it sinking down to their level of intolerance by being intolerant of their views? Does writing into the paper ever solve anything? I think if you want to beat Christians or stop things like this, you need to rise above intolerance. If you want to persuade people to your belief, perhaps you should not slander Christians, but rather show them that you are tolerant. If you want to show that non-theists have morals, shouldn’t you be showing some?

  32. Anonymous says

    Regardless of whether or not this event was rightly or wrongly sponsored, is it right to post hate messages about it?

    Should we be slandering the beliefs of others even if they slander ours? Is it sinking down to their level of intolerance by being intolerant of their views?

    Does writing into the paper ever solve anything?

    I think if you want to beat Christians or stop things like this, you need to rise above intolerance. If you want to persuade people to your belief, perhaps you should not slander Christians, but rather show them that you are tolerant. If you want to show that non-theists have morals, shouldn't you be showing some?

  33. Pablo says

    Actually Jen, I’m surprised didn’t ask if they had attacked Jews, for example, instead of non-believers, would the PSUB be so quick to shrug it off? Or Muslims. Or Mormons. Or some other religious group? I suspect there would have been quick condemnation.I realize that atheism isn’t a religion, but the comparison is apt.

  34. Pablo says

    Actually Jen, I'm surprised didn't ask if they had attacked Jews, for example, instead of non-believers, would the PSUB be so quick to shrug it off? Or Muslims. Or Mormons. Or some other religious group? I suspect there would have been quick condemnation.

    I realize that atheism isn't a religion, but the comparison is apt.

  35. Anonymous says

    Truth is a perfect defense to both libel and slander (slander = spoken, libel = published).Jen has said nothing that is untrue. She’s not libeled Christians here, she’s only reported the event and subsequently complained through appropriate channels. What, exactly would you suggest Jen do to “rise above” this? Her response was reasonable and measured.

  36. Anonymous says

    Truth is a perfect defense to both libel and slander (slander = spoken, libel = published).

    Jen has said nothing that is untrue. She's not libeled Christians here, she's only reported the event and subsequently complained through appropriate channels.

    What, exactly would you suggest Jen do to "rise above" this? Her response was reasonable and measured.

  37. Anonymous says

    I would just suggest being nicer in general. I guess it’s more referring to other blogs, especially. Just some advice if you want to be effective in your ministry against the bible. Rather than complaining about Christians. Suppose you are really nice to everyone, including Christians. And at the same time Christians are saying stuff like “connecting with an unbeliever is connecting with the devil”, who are people going to like more? Who’s argument will seem more convincing? And who will look like a d-bag?

  38. Anonymous says

    I would just suggest being nicer in general. I guess it's more referring to other blogs, especially. Just some advice if you want to be effective in your ministry against the bible. Rather than complaining about Christians. Suppose you are really nice to everyone, including Christians. And at the same time Christians are saying stuff like "connecting with an unbeliever is connecting with the devil", who are people going to like more? Who's argument will seem more convincing? And who will look like a d-bag?

  39. Anonymous says

    First, the Christians here *do* look like douchebags because *they* slandered atheists and delivered factually inaccurate information about sex.What was not nice about Jen’s response? She didn’t shout down the ridiculous, bullshit presentation. She didn’t rush the stage, Kanye-style. She wrote a few polite, logical letters asking how PSUB could fund such a thing. She didn’t even demand that such presentations cease – all she said was, “Why was my money used for this?”How, exactly, could she have been nicer? Explain this to me, ’cause I don’t get it.

  40. Anonymous says

    First, the Christians here *do* look like douchebags because *they* slandered atheists and delivered factually inaccurate information about sex.

    What was not nice about Jen's response? She didn't shout down the ridiculous, bullshit presentation. She didn't rush the stage, Kanye-style.

    She wrote a few polite, logical letters asking how PSUB could fund such a thing. She didn't even demand that such presentations cease – all she said was, "Why was my money used for this?"

    How, exactly, could she have been nicer? Explain this to me, 'cause I don't get it.

  41. Pablo says

    Oh, it’s easily explained how she could have been nicer: she could have not complained. She should have just sat back and let them say whatever they want with no questioning. Because, you know, questioning them is _insulting_. How DARE anyone have the audacity to question religion? Uppity atheists…BTW, I reiterate my contention that if the group had asserted that Jews were “of the Devil” that the PSUB would be running an apology for being involved long before it ever hitting a letter to the editor.

  42. Pablo says

    Oh, it's easily explained how she could have been nicer: she could have not complained. She should have just sat back and let them say whatever they want with no questioning. Because, you know, questioning them is _insulting_. How DARE anyone have the audacity to question religion? Uppity atheists…

    BTW, I reiterate my contention that if the group had asserted that Jews were "of the Devil" that the PSUB would be running an apology for being involved long before it ever hitting a letter to the editor.

  43. Anonymous says

    You missed the point entirely.Christians could have the same argument. How dare anyone have the audacity to question non-religion?

  44. Anonymous says

    You missed the point entirely.

    Christians could have the same argument. How dare anyone have the audacity to question non-religion?

  45. Pablo says

    They difference is, when christians question non-religion, they are not accused of being mean or disrespectful or hateful. Deluded maybe.

  46. Pablo says

    They difference is, when christians question non-religion, they are not accused of being mean or disrespectful or hateful. Deluded maybe.

  47. Pablo says

    That might be true if you consider advocating discrimination against gay people and condemning non-believers to hell as “questioning non-belief.” However, I think it goes well beyond that.

  48. Pablo says

    That might be true if you consider advocating discrimination against gay people and condemning non-believers to hell as "questioning non-belief." However, I think it goes well beyond that.

  49. Anonymous says

    It’s intolerant to even question one’s belief. Because in doing so, you are not tolerating it. You show that you don’t believe it and you don’t think they should. And complaining about it is just the next step. Christians are being intolerant of gays and non-believes and atheists are being intolerant of Christians. And both are saying the other is intolerant. Am I the only one that sees the ridiculousness here?

  50. Anonymous says

    It's intolerant to even question one's belief. Because in doing so, you are not tolerating it. You show that you don't believe it and you don't think they should. And complaining about it is just the next step.

    Christians are being intolerant of gays and non-believes and atheists are being intolerant of Christians. And both are saying the other is intolerant. Am I the only one that sees the ridiculousness here?

  51. Pablo says

    Who’s being intolerant of Christians?Do atheists advocate stripping Christians of civil liberties, for example?”Not allowing christians to use government resources to promote their religion” is not intolerance.To equate discrimination against gay people to questioning one’s religious belief is pretty dispicable, I must say.

  52. Pablo says

    Who's being intolerant of Christians?

    Do atheists advocate stripping Christians of civil liberties, for example?

    "Not allowing christians to use government resources to promote their religion" is not intolerance.

    To equate discrimination against gay people to questioning one's religious belief is pretty dispicable, I must say.

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