Monday, July 11, 2011

Larry Flynt, Michelle Bachmann, and Freedom of Speech

Prolific pornographer Larry Flynt respons to Michelle Bachmann's view on wanting to ban pornography.  I do not want to get into a back and forth born is bad, no it's my right, etc . . .  So I will offer a few observations I have made over the years.

1.  I had the opportunity to meet the super porn star Ron Jeremy.  During that meeting I asked him, "What positive influence does pornography have on society?"  He stuttered for a bit till he found the words, "I don't know.  Maybe help people have sex."  He could think of no way that pornography is good for a society.  I remember in a few of my more non-traditional college classes the teacher would always as us the question "Why should we study women in horror literature?"  To which we were to give the canned response, "It helps us understand the culture and times."

2. An insight into what pornography might be had by looking briefly at the etymology of the word "pornography."  "Pornography" comes from the Greek words "pornē"which means "prostitute" and "graphein" which mean "to write."  A prostitue is simply someone who receives payment for various forms of sexual acts (to be read as meaning more than sexual intercourse).  Taking a broad definition this would mean that prostitutes are not just the woman on the side of the highway but are also the strippers, dancers, and porn stars, because they exchange money for sexual acts.

3. In 1986 the US Attorney release a study titled: Final Report of the Attorney General's Commission on Pornography.  In which they central question of the study was "to examine the question of whether pornography is harmful" (31).  The long story made short is that "yes" it does cause harm to a society. To which the report then follows up shortly there after with ""And when we think about harm . . . there are acts that must be condemned not because the evils of the world will thereby be eliminated, but because conscience demands it" (32).

4.  I think agree, on very limited terms, with Larry Flynt when he writes, " If we restrict adult viewing and reading material to what is appropriate for children, there will be nothing left but Little Red Riding Hood. This is an issue for parents, not for politicians. Parents need to be responsible for supervising their children to make sure that their children do not have access to material that they disapprove of."    

Though, I would like to ask Flynt, "Why is it ok for parents to limit certain forms of freedom of expression and speech of their children; yet, why is it not ok for the US to limit certain kind of free speech?"  At what point does "freedom of speech" no longer means "say and do whatever you want."?

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