opinion

Freedom of Speech: From the Mouths of Babes

Diane Duke

In a 2006 article from Southern Methodist University’s Daily Campus – Art history major Liza Oldham exhibits an insightful and eloquent understanding of the importance of upholding the right to choose, especially if that choice happens to be enjoyment of, or employment in adult entertainment.

The opinion piece was published during an uproar caused on-campus when Playboy Magazine came to Dallas, scouting models for its “Girls of the Conference USA” pictorial. Most of the SMU ladies that tried out for the coveted chance to appear in Playboy have probably graduated on to other endeavors; but what Ms. Oldham has to say is no less relevant today than it was in 2006 – or 1996, 1986, 1976, 1966 or 1953, the year that Playboy was founded… or in 1787, when the founding fathers signed the U.S. Constitution.

Oldham’s response was to another author’s opinion, that admonished and judged Playboy and the ladies of low morals that saw the opportunity to be in Playboy as a means of furthering themselves, or expressing themselves as sexual beings, or just because it would make them happy. As Oldham points out, in America, we all have the right to pursue happiness, don’t we? Why should anyone have the right to judge if what makes you happy is right or wrong, as long as what makes you happy is legal and legitimate?

But more than that, Oldham clearly illustrates the important role that pornography plays as a legitimate, though unpopular, form of free speech. Especially now, as the “politically correct” threaten even American literary icon Mark Twain with censorship; it is essential to recognize that freedoms that took a couple of centuries to establish aren’t lost overnight, but in little bites as subjugation eats away at autonomy.

“Like it or not, pornography is here to stay, and it has the right to stay; it may be one of the most extreme and outlandish examples of free speech, but the fact that it is backed by the Constitution ought to reassure us of our own rights,” she says in the article. “As Larry Flynt, founder of Penthouse (sic), said, ‘If the First Amendment will protect a scumbag like me, it will protect all of you.’”

Amen to that. Thank you, Ms. Oldham, where ever you are, for understanding what so many have trouble grasping, even in 2011. And we certainly don’t intend to use the term “babes” as derogatory here, but as a compliment toward intelligent, young women (and men) that aren’t afraid to speak their mind or pursue their happiness. – jc

(Photo: Some rights reserved by Lavalamp66)

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