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If he is right, porn may eventually exhaust itself, having run out of new taboos to conquer. Yet in his 1966 study of Victorian pornography, Columbia Professor Steven Marcus described the porn impulse as "insatiable." Slade and Marcus may be making the same point: it was precisely the repressive nature of prudery that created a taboo-rich culture in which Victorian porn fantasies could take exotic shape. But if the porn industry finds no limits, it could perhaps reawaken the American taste for censorship. The very thought is anathema to most Americans. The danger is that it may be found more supportable than the worst conceivable outcome of the porno plague: a brutalizing of the American psyche that turns U.S. society into the world portrayed in A Clockwork Orange.
* Midnight Blue is aired in the New York City area on a public-access channel of Manhattan Cable TV, a subsidiary of Time Inc. As a condition of their franchises, cable-TV companies must turn over time on their channels for public access: free or nominal-charge use by individuals and community groups. Manhattan Cable is unhappy about Midnight Blue, but federal, state and city regulations require cable-TV franchise holders to make these public channels available on a first-come, first-served, nondiscriminatory basis. The limits on what is shown are, in what is still a new field, not clearly defined; one government guideline forbids a cable company to censor public-access program content, while another makes the company potentially liable for program content.