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March 9, 2013
Early Warning Censor
Scratch a leftist, find a bluenose censor.
Progressivists love to pose as avant-garde, post-partisan worshippers of free speech; but to the Left, that has always meant only one thing: That everybody has the freedom to espouse leftist positions.
The moment the sinistrosphere captures majority control of any institution, all speech that contradicts the current Party catechism is immediately suppressed, and the speakers assailed as violently as the Left can manage. The Weathermen, the Morituri, ELF, ALF, Greenpeace, Fink Progress, La Raza, the Rainbow Coalition, the CBC, and Eric Holder's Department of Injustice -- none of these is a fluke. To a Progressivist, throttling dissent is just one of those eggs that needs to be broken to make the liberal omlet.
This applies not only to overt speech (always suspect to lefties), but even in the realm of "non-speech" freedom of speech -- everything from dance as speech, to flag-burning, to occupiers, strippers, and every other mechanism of nonverbal communication that leftists normally exalt: The purpose is never to give people of opposing viewpoints any liberty or forum to express their cockamamie opinions; its use is restricted to furthering world socialism.
Nothing could make this clearer than the Left's war on pornography: When Progressivist protesters want to strip naked to demonstrate against fracking, against voter-ID laws, against school choice, and in favor of unfettered abortion right up until a year after the baby is born, that display of naked rage is a sacred right that shall not be infringed. But woe betide models or porn actors who voluntarily choose to display themselves for profit, in print, video, or online; for the Left will clamp down viciously on such unauthorized (and unenlightened) exposure of one's own body.
That is why the Demi Moore vehicle Striptease (1996) was lauded by Hollywood in an overflow of praise, while the superficially similar Showgirls was lambasted, and many associated with it blacklisted and later forced to recant and make public apologies (a favorite punishment imposed by Progressivists; cf. Josef Stalin). Here is the distinction that makes all the difference: Demi Moore's character has lost her daughter in a custody fight following a divorce from her crooked and abusive husband; she's a victim of patriarchy! All the nudity and erotic dance is in service to showing how women are exploited and held down by sexism, racism, and homophobia.
But Elizabeth Berkeley's character in Showgirls (1995) freely chose to be a stripper, then a Vegas showgirl; she is tough, determined, knows what she wants in life, and allows nobody to exploit her. She owns herself and calls all the shots. She is no victim; therefore, nudity and sexual content are anathema when the woman has exercised her freedom of choice voluntarily. She's wandered off the victimhood plantation!
Berkeley has barely worked since then. The writer, Joe Eszterhas, as more or less disappeared from the scene as well. The director of Showgirls, Paul Verhoeven, after being savaged in the industry press for his "sick" and "debasing" movie, eventually tried to expiate his sins by directing -- and deliberately trashing -- Starship Troopers (1997). He turned Robert A. Heinlein's tour de force paean to individual freedom into what the movie's own pitch package described as a "glorious celebration of fascism."
(Verhoeven famously bragged that he hated the Heinlein novel so much, he never got past the second chapter; n.b. fewer than thirty-five pages of the paperback. He inverted everything in the book to make it appear as though it advocaed xenophobic racism and a fascist state -- take that, Heinlein! The attacks on Verhoeven ceased, but his career still seems more or less over.)
Which brings us, by a commodious vicus of recirculation, back to the international Left and its peculiar love-hate relationship with pornography; for yesterday, we learnt that a strong majority of members of the European Parliament (MEPs) plan to vote to ban all forms of pornography in the European Union, whether print, video, film, or even internet sites.
This monumental act of censorship is being pushed because of what the EuroLeft calls "a bid to 'eliminate gender stereotypes' that demean women":
The proposal "calls on the EU and its member states to take concrete action on discrimination against women in advertising... [with] a ban on all forms of pornography in the media".
Kartika Liotard, a Dutch left-wing feminist MEP, is seeking "statutory measures to prevent any form of pornography in the media and in advertising and for a ban on advertising for pornographic products and sex tourism", including measures in the "digital field".
The MEPs are also demanding the establishment of state sex censors with "a mandate to impose effective sanctions on companies and individuals promoting the sexualisation of girls".
This particular vote is non-binding; but it's the first step along the road towards legislating an enforceable ban on anything the EuroLeft deems, in its unbiased and nonpartisan wisdom, to be "pornography," "discrimination against women," or "gender stereotypes."
While many conservatives might wish something could be done about pornography, their desire to censor is inhibited by a respect for freedom of speech, plus the understanding that once the State gains authority to define and ban "pornography," then anything the Left dislikes can be so labeled -- thus banned as well:
- Al Gore might well believe that climate "denialism" is obscene and needs to be expunged from the world.
- Michael Bloomberg would be overjoyed to censor all advertising for (or even mention of) products and services he personally disdains, such as sugary drinks, alcohol, or cigarettes.
- And the scrawny, pasty, lumpy members of the Center for Science in the Public Interest are just itching to be able to ban all fatty cuisines -- Chinese, Mexican, Italian, Jewish, et al -- on the grounds that such foods "discriminate against women," because overweight women are "demeaned" and taunted by sexual predators -- i.e., men.
Once the State says, "Adult women are not mature enough to handle certain kinds of speech, visual depictions, or the very idea of sexual practices other than those authorized by law," it infantilizes the entire female population... which is far more demeaning and discriminatory than pornography itself. The Left may as well pat women on the head and say, "There, there, don't bother your pretty, little head about such awful things."
The mind boggles: I just saw a play titled the Deep Throat Sex Scandal in the dying heart of the crumbling city of lost angels; it humorously recounted the making of the most successful porn movie in history (worldwide take in the hundreds of millions of dollars) and the succession of criminal trials that followed in its wake.
A prosecutor in Memphis, Tennessee filed criminal indictments for obscenity and conspiracy against the producer, director, distributers, and even one of the actors (Harry Reems) in the movie -- which was made entirely in New York City; none of the actors had ever even set foot in Tennessee before being hauled in by indictment or subpoena. The case ultimately went to the Supreme Court, where the prosecutor argued that if you make a movie in New York, and later someone shows that movie in Tennessee, the New York actors can be prosecuted where they never were for something that is not illegal where they actually were.
The Court disagreed.
As I watched the play (it boasted a large amount of full-frontal nudity, which was of course the main reason I bought a ticket), I was thinking that they had it all turned roundabout: They blamed all the porn censorship on rock-ribbed, Bible-thumpin' Baptists and babbittry. But they're behind their times; the New Right supports freedom of speech as against suppression of pornography. It's the New Left that has taken up the silencing man's burden of telling the rest of us what we're allowed to say, allowed to hear, and allowed to think; and it has been the Left for decades.
The ban does not appear to have much to do with ending the demeaning of women; so far as I can tell from the article, the ban would apply equally to lesbian pornography, even that which is completely empowering to women. And it wouldn't apply to Bill Clinton.
But I'm quite certain exceptions would be made for works with "redeeming social purposes," which in practice would mean whenever sex is used to sell leftist propaganda, as in Striptease. Or for that matter, as in Starship Troopers, which includes full-frontal nudity in service of slandering one of America's best Capitalist writers and the most successful advocate of liberty and libertarianism in the holy realm of science fiction.
It's always tempting to censor, control, suppress, silence, and eliminate opposing viewpoints; in our meaner moments, duct-taping their mouths seems so much easier and more satisfying than merely arguing. But to reject the very foundation of Western liberal democracy -- free and open inquiry, freedom of speech, and even freedom to do things that we ourselves may find distasteful and even "demeaning" -- is to fling ourselves from the mild heat of injudicious use of liberty into the roaring hellflames of totalitarianism.
The Left finds that bargain acceptable. The Right demurs.
Hatched by Dafydd on this day, March 9, 2013, at the time of 4:25 AM
The following hissed in response by: Stephen 1536
The following hissed in response by: Eris Guy
While I am of the opinion that Verhoven trashed Starship Troopers (and imagine, given the raging, ugly, bigotry against Moslems and Scott Card, what the upcoming Ender’s Game movie will be), Verhoven went on to produce Starship Troopers (video game) and Roughnecks: Starship Troopers Chronicles. Somebody must like his interpretation.
The following hissed in response by: Dafydd ab Hugh
So when did Scott convert to Islam? <g>
The above hissed in response by: Dafydd ab Hugh at March 18, 2013 6:21 PM
The following hissed in response by: Eris Guy
Hah! Funny error. Everyone not in the know, I meant “Mormon” not “Moslem."
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