I love sharing my thoughts, and recently I was honored to share my thoughts on free speech and civil liberties in a very esteemed forum…
On July 4th online and in their July print edition, AVN ran a series of comments from industry attorneys, heads of adult companies, adult directors, members of the Free Speech Coalition… and me (!!) exploring free speech and legal issues that impact and shape the adult industry.
(pictured: screen grabbed on July 4, 2012)
Here’s some text:
“For people in adult entertainment, the 45 words contained in the First Amendment are like holy passages from a religious text, but people and institutions in the U.S. also count on those same words to protect their religious liberties. Currently, many religious leaders are screaming to the heavens that their rights are under attack by secular forces in society and the government, but one of the rights they want to ‘express’ is the silencing of sexual expression they do not like. These are the profound differences that take place wherever the struggle over free speech takes place, which is everywhere. No matter the country or society, however, a fundamental truth remains that freedom of expression matters, no matter what your gripe may be. This section is devoted to all who struggle to speak freely, but especially to practitioners of erotic expression, who too often find themselves in the crosshairs of a hostile culture.” (here)
I responded to three questions addressing these issues. Here is what I had to say…
1. Which free speech activist, past or present, has inspired you the most, and why?
Well, the obvious answer is Larry Flynt. Mr. Flynt has fought for decades now to protect civil rights associated with free speech on a global level… because safeguarding adult-oriented speech helps preserve freedom for all forms of expression. This impacts every person in the US, which in turn impacts people around the world.
The less obvious answer though are all the people, past and present, who work in the adult industry – folks who deal with marginalization and discrimination, however subtle or overt, on a daily basis simply because of their chosen field. These “real life” activists work for every person’s right to speak their mind, while demonstrating the industry’s cultural and social significance.
2. What industry threat has affected [the adult] business the most, and why?
My observations over the years have led me to believe that the biggest problem impacting adult businesses today is actually the refrain from combating industry threats collectively.
When faced with the hydra of 2257 regulations, online piracy, anti-pornography activists, efforts to censor porn, obscenity prosecutions, condom regulations, and the like, the whole is far greater than the sum of its parts. And though collective efforts within the industry to battle one or some of these threats certainly exist, they generally seem woefully under-supported. Relatively individual efforts targeting one issue are more the norm, which unfortunately gives the remainder of the combined threat time to flourish.
History has shown us that organized collective action on multiple fronts is the best way to combat such multidimensional issues – the adult industry’s tendency to refrain from collaborative defense (and offense!!) seems to be the most significant peril of all.
3. Do you think the adult industry will have more or fewer free speech rights in five years?
Well, in spite of wider US culture’s current inclination toward inclusivity and social justice, the adult industry is still regarded as… “pornography.” Regardless of myriad social benefits, people continue to pass judgment on the industry and/or feign discomfort with its products. So I don’t think anyone is going to be fighting on behalf of the adult industry’s free speech rights anytime soon…
…so it’s up to the industry itself!! And even though there are the expected challenges of running a business in a struggling economy and that looming hydra to contend with, folks have to be mindful of existing laws and developing issues. The industry must be proactive and vigilant in order to maintain (and hopefully extend) the free speech rights it currently enjoys. It’s not a fair or balanced task and plenty of entities outside the industry will reap the benefits, but whatevs – there’s some honor in fighting the good fight.
Others who weighed in included John Stagliano, Diane Duke, Allison Vivas, Graham Travis, Peter Acworth, Jeffrey J. Douglas, Jiz Lee, and a handful of others. I was absolutely honored to share a platform with these amazing individuals – folks who fight to protect our rights and civil liberties every day.
You can read everyone’s comments here – they’re all super badass!!
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