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Containment, which aims to protect the community and the individual's right not to be assaulted by offensive material, was the idea behind the combat zone of Boston, and many other communities now want the same thing—in effect, red light districts for porn. In Seattle's blue-collar Greenwood section, residents are picketing a new porn theater, the neighborhood's second. Says a spokesman: "We aren't interested in censorship but in zoning to keep pornographic films to a certain area."
As porn shops and massage parlors invade Manhattan's expensive East Side, dismayed residents are campaigning to keep them clustered in the Times Square area. Midtown businessmen are pushing just as hard to get the porn out of Times Square. The League of New York Theaters and Producers is pleading with first-run moviehouses not to show porn films, on the grounds that the spreading porn blight is hurting business at legitimate Broadway theaters. W. Barry McCarthy, corporate communications director of the New York Times, located just off Times Square, argues that porn shops and massage parlors are "an enormous developer of crime," a magnet for the blight that is choking midtown.
Last week the Supreme Court heard arguments on the right of the city of Detroit to use another kind of regulation. Though Detroit's policy is to disperse rather than cluster its porn shops, the court's decision, due in June, will presumably settle a community's right to use zoning against porn.
Citizens now have some measure of protection against unsolicited sex mail. Anyone who does not want such mail can notify postal authorities. Other kinds of restraint may be possible. Says University of Pennsylvania Sociologist Marvin E. Wolfgang: "There ought to be a way to limit pornography to those who want it." Still, Wolfgang, a member of the obscenity and pornography commission, opposes all obscenity laws, including those limiting public display of erotica. Others think such laws are reasonable. Father Morton Hill, a New York City Jesuit and veteran porn fighter, wants newsstands and drugstores to stop carrying porn. "There should be better control over what children can see or hear, and we should keep porn out of public view," he says. Adds University of California Psychologist Jay Mann, who generally sees no harm in porn: "Privacy is just as important as the right to such materials."
Many in the spectator-sex industry believe only a few temporary excesses are keeping the porn controversy alive. They expect porn to crest and ebb and a largely benign boredom to set in. Says the newly mellowed Hugh Hefner (who denounces his fast-rising competitors, Penthouse and Hustler, as "gynecological gazettes"): "We are very much in a stage of transition sexually, and there is bound to be some exploitation."
Some doubt that the drive toward more crass, kinky and violent porn will soon abate. English Professor Joseph W. Slade believes film makers are desperately searching for new taboos to break. It is a paradoxical and intriguing view. Says he: "They are attempting to