If you’re like most of us, when we’re walking through the student center, we’re rarely paying attention to anything that’s not right in front of us. Occasionally, something will catch our eye from our peripheral vision; such is the case with a certain display in the lower level across from the bookstore.
At first glance, you just see a bunch of condoms strewn among statistics printed on colorful paper. However, with a closer look, you’re suddenly viewing grisly pictures of genitalia affected with certain sexually transmitted diseases. Immediate reactions cause your gag reflex to kick in, but at the same time, it’s like our sick penchant for ambulance chasing – it’s hard to turn away, which is likely the intention of those who created the display.
Students are constantly bombarded by pamphlets and lectures that warn us of the perils of anorexia, bulimia, club drugs, drunk driving, ecstasy, overeating, rape, roofies, irresponsible sexual activity… the list goes on and on. However, we hear it so much that we have almost become immune, so we are all for the honest and open discussion of unprotected sex and the resulting consequences.
Photos are frank and honest, therefore we encourage their use whenever possible. We think it is important to know about how common STDs are, and how painful they can be, even to just to look at. The pictures give people a bit of a wake-up call and a visual that will stay with them; perhaps they will think of it before their next sexual encounter and change what could possibly be detrimental behavior.
However, the issue of free speech needs to be addressed. Our society tends to shy away from shoving such things right in the open for the general public. Obscenity is not a protected form of speech, so the question is are these types of pictures, which are intended to inform people of the dangers of unprotected sex, a form of obscenity?
We don’t think so, and mainly because of the reason just listed. It sickens us that so many people are infected with STDs, which could easily be prevented with frank education and discussion. However, we also believe that there is a time and place for everything. We agree with that the display case should be out of the direct spotlight, away from those (young children, for example) who really don’t need to see things such as pictures of disease-ridden penises.