Jeremy, Gross crowd Ferst Center for Great Porn Debate

It’s not often that Tech encourages students to gather en masse on behalf of porn, but on Thursday, March 26, students in the Ferst Center for the Arts did just that. Tech hosted The Great Porn Debate, a touring debate between Ron Jeremy, a veteran porn star and Craig Gross, pastor of XXX Church. Despite the four dollar student ticket price, the event drew quite a crowd, almost filling up the Ferst Center.

Jeremy and Gross each had twelve minutes for opening remarks to state their side of the debate, with the rest of the program consisting a debate on audience questions asked by a moderator.

Before Gross’ official first remarks began, jumped in to comment on why Gross would be speaking first. “I’m on the defense, not the attack. Craig is about to bring up points about why my business is wrong, and … I’m going to destroy each one point by point, and I’m going to slam dunk each and every one I make,” Jeremy said.

“Ron’s five-six, and he can’t slam-dunk anything,” Gross said in response.

Gross’s opening remarks started with a little bit of background about himself. Gross was a youth pastor trying to help his students who were struggling to deal with porn, so he started a website called XXXchurch.com.

“[The goal] is not to take away your right to watch porn. Everyone has the right to watch porn if they like, and my church wouldn’t ever argue against that… I just want to offer help to those who struggle against it,” Gross said about the core of his argument.

Gross compared the struggle with porn to any struggle with an addiction, be it alcohol or gambling. While porn may be legal, he argued that there needs to be support for those who can’t handle porn.

He claimed that porn creates unrealistic expectations for the prospect of sex and that it is a one-side industry that focuses on men. He believes that some people cannot watch porn responsibly, meaning that eventually these people desire more intense porn to get excited.

“Porn is often used for masturbation, which is just sex with yourself. There is no concern for the needs of the other person who should be involved, and that causes problems in relationships… I hope that after people go away from [this debate] that they think twice about popping in that [porn] tape,” Gross said.

Jeremy’s opening remarks came next, and he focused on “not attacking what is being said by [Gross], but simply defending that the porn industry exists, and has the right to do so.” Jeremy argued against the idea that porn cannot be watched responsibly. He defended the industry against allegations of violence and degradation towards women. He especially highlighted efforts against child pornography, chronicling that it is illegal and the general porn industry does everything it can to get rid of it. He finally went on to defend the freedom of speech rights that make porn legal for consenting adults who are of age.

“I’m not saying that porn is the greatest thing in the world, but it is a multi-billion dollar business and it is worth defending… and I want people who do want to watch it feel comfortable doing so,” Jeremy said to summarize his argument.

After the opening remarks, questions were supposed to be written on note cards and read by the moderator, but Jeremy and Gross quickly nixed that idea, inviting people to stand up in the front of the stage to ask questions to them directly. The session was highly interactive, consisting of questions and banter between the audience and the speakers.

Student’s questions focused on questions of morality, violence and feminism in the porn industry, as well as the possible double standard of focusing on porn as a major vice in our society versus other vices. Questions were answered candidly and humorously, often eliciting long debate between Gross and Jeremy. In the end, the moderator had to cut off discussion before all questions were answered due to time.

After the debate was over, students were allowed to stay and get autographs and pictures from the two. The autograph line snaked around the Ferst Center as students wanted to get pictures, books and hats signed. Jeremy even a girl’s breast or two.

The sentiment from students was that the debate left no clear winner. “I think they had two very clear different points, but they each had a lot of good facts and information. I don’t think there was a clear winner,” said Kris Jurgowski, third-year CS.

His thoughts were echoed by others waiting throughout the autograph line. While there may not have been a winner, the debate definitely got students to think about the issue, something that both Gross and Jeremy deemed a success.