Free Speech at UNC-Asheville

Posted: Aug 19, 2005 12:00 AM

Last week, I wrote an article criticizing UNC Asheville for showing a porn movie based on the ?research? of Asian American Studies professor Darrell Hamamoto. UNCA Director of Public Information, Merianne Epstein, offered this defense of the taxpayer-supported porn movie screening:

?(W)e believe that universities exist to provide a safe forum for the expression and  consideration of different points of view and the exploration of the robust marketplace ideas and beliefs; that the search for truth and knowledge is dependent upon a climate that fosters careful exploration of difficult topics; and that the only outcome of censorship is ignorance and prejudice. We defend with unhesitating vigor the right of our students to be free from censorship as they exercise critical thinking and pursue thoughtful dialogue in the exploration of the complicated issues of our time.

As beautiful as that was, I am about to offer a restatement of UNCA?s articulate defense. In order to fully comprehend my restatement, it will be necessary to take a longer look at Dr. Hamamoto?s research. I learned a lot about it from reading his marvelous essay entitled ?The Joy F--- Club.? Some highlights of what I learned follow:

Dr. Hamamoto says that ?(w)ithout prurient intent? he has his college students  ?contemplate and discuss the content of their sexual fantasy life? and to imagine what ?types of faces and bodies? they conjure when trying to reach orgasm.

Discussing student sexual fantasies in class, teaches Dr. Hamamoto that Asian American students overwhelmingly fantasize about ?Euroamericans.?He dubs this Asian American focus on ?Euroamericans? as ?a cross-generational fetishization of the White master race by Asian Americans.?

He explains that the in-class sexual fantasy exercise has, in effect, shown him his true purpose in life. ?It is out of this classroom experience that I began thinking about ways to destabilize the hegemonic system of sex/race/power, wherein the denial of unalloyed sexual desire and carnal pleasure to Yellow people is coextensive with their social subordination.?

I also learned that ?The historical legacy of U.S. imperial conquest, neocolonial occupation, dislocation, exclusion, relocation, and the depredation of global capitalism, have played a material role in shaping the multiform sexuality of Asian American men and women. Restrictive immigration legislation directed specifically against Asians has done much to distort and even prevent family formation.?

Similarly, Hamamoto informed me that ?Out of the legal, legislative, and moralistic strategies brought to bear in the regulation of Asian American sexuality, a system of psychosocial dominance has evolved that, to varying degrees, has been internalized by the objects of social control. In addition, Asian Americans along with members of the dominant society have been immersed in racial supremacist ideology from cradle to grave.?

The Asian love master is at his finest when he proclaims that the ?psychosocial domination of Asian Americans, although never complete and always contested, is compatible with the interests of ruling elites who hold political and economic dominion over communities of color, which are constrained to occupy the stratum of super-exploited laborers who create social wealth for capital. At the same time, the White working class maintains its marginal advantage over non-White competitors on the basis of superordinate racial identity within a segmented labor market. With the regulation of erotic desire and expression inextricably linked to a comprehensive system of political-economic and sociocultural control, Asian Americans have grappled with a psychosexual self-alienation that stems from a racialized sexuality shaped and sometimes deformed by hostile social forces.? I could not have said it better myself!

To reinforce his main thesis, the professor states that ?Asian American male performers are almost nonexistent in straight video porn, again reflecting their sexuo-erotic subjection within the White supremacist complex.?

And, finally, the leader of the Yellow Porn movement tells us that ?In revisiting and reclaiming Asian erotic arts traditions developed over centuries, by drawing from a demonstrated history of visual resistance, through the integration of the radical cultural politics of Asian American independent film movement, a Yellow porno practice can help recuperate a sexuality that has been distorted by the internalization of core racist values and beliefs that reach into the depths of individual psychology. Like other expressive forms, pornography is but one manifestation of the irrepressible urge to explore the oceanic possibilities inherent in the sexuality of our species-being. To engage more specifically in an Asian American porno practice is to take self-determined control of an unfixed, variable, malleable, but thoroughly racialized human sexuality, shaped and constrained over time by politically oppressive forces. I harbor no illusions that a self-conscious porno practice alone is sufficient to the task of destabilizing a near-hegemonic system of sex/race/power. But an Asian American cultural politics grounded in a radical jouissance that gives rise to the release of libidinal energy will remain an indispensable resource upon which to draw in the greater struggle against individual and group oppression.?

Upon closer examination of Hamamoto?s work, it appears that UNC-Ashville really has the following to say about free speech:

UNCA believes that universities exist to provide a safe forum for the expression and consideration of liberal points of view that help to legitimize the concept of moral relativism. UNCA also believes that the search for truth is irrelevant because the university abandoned long ago the idea of ?truth.? UNCA seeks to nurture a climate that fosters careful exploration of even the most absurd and inane topics; as long as they are presented from a perspective that is stridently anti-American and treats the problems of all non-whites as stemming from white racism. If you ridicule us, we will falsely accuse you of censorship as we defend the indefensible. We will attack you personally with the accusation that you are both ignorant and prejudiced. We will defend the most revolting idiocy under the guise of protecting our students from censorship. At the same time, we will promulgate the myth that we are exposing our students to critical thinking and fostering the pursuit of thoughtful dialogue. These issues are not complicated. You will fund our mission, despite its lack of intellectual diversity, integrity, and honesty. Because we are more enlightened than you, this matter is not open to further discussion or debate.

Mike S. Adams will speak at N.C. State on August 30th. Details can be found on his website (