LARRY FLYNT

07.08.11

Shame on Michele Bachmann!

Pornography is the best test our society has for freedom of expression, argues Larry Flynt, precisely because it's protected even though some find it offensive.

Michele Bachmann is vowing to destroy our freedom. Her villainzation of pornography is far from a new argument. And while the proposed ban of adult content is generally utilized as a talking point for right-winged politicians, Bachmann and her fellow co-signers of “The Marriage Vow” have taken it too far. The appalling oath not only smacks of racism and homophobia, it also undermines the very freedoms citizens of the United States enjoy. The issues I have—and all Americans should have, upon reading this document—are numerous.

This vow primarily illustrates Bachmann’s clear ignorance towards sexuality by equating pornography with human trafficking and sexual slavery. Pornography is sexual expression; human trafficking and slavery are crimes.

Bachmann’s acceptance of this vow is even more surprising, considering it only promises “humane protection of women and [children].” As a woman in politics, doesn’t this offend her? Why is it women—and women alone—who need to be protected? And who is Michele Bachmann to tell consenting adults what they can do with their own bodies in private? Consenting adults, both men and women, have the right to enjoy pornography if they wish to do so. Michele Bachmann and her ilk can’t take this right away.

Bachmann will, of course, argue that the real need is to protect children. But viewing pornography and keeping it out of the hands of children is not mutually exclusive, and never has been. 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. It is not the job of the politicians to tell the youth of America what they can do with their own bodies. Doesn’t the government have enough on its plate?

Bachmann's signing of this Marriage Vow is in direct opposition to another vow she claims to have taken: To be a representative of the citizens of the United States.

This is just the same old argument the far right has pushed on us before. The conservatives and the religious right have been attempting to rid the nation of pornography for years. They’ve consistently failed. And their failure is, in a lot of ways, due to the fact that this is not a promise being made for the benefit of the people or for protection of children’s “stolen innocence.” This is just another attempt to impinge upon freedom of speech and free expression.

This is particularly ironic, considering Bachmann’s vow to defend—no, “fiercely” defend—First Amendment rights. And yet, her hypocritical oath diminishes freedom of speech, attempting to ban pornography, which has been consistently held in the highest court in this country to be protected by the Constitution.

In fact, this oath makes it obvious that Bachmann doesn’t understand what “freedom” really is at all. The price of freedom is that we must accept, for the benefit of the American people, not only what we love, but also what we hate. As the Supreme Court said in Hustler v. Falwell over two decades ago, “[t]he freedom to speak one’s mind is not only an aspect of individual liberty—and thus a good unto itself—but also is essential to the common quest for truth and the vitality of society as a whole… Many things done with motives that are less than admirable are protected by the First Amendment.”

Why is Bachmann’s porn pledge bad for America? Because pornography is a metaphor for our society and for freedom of expression. When the government begins to ban a perfectly legal—although to some offensive—activity merely to satisfy personal wishes and religious beliefs, the door is opened for all of our political freedoms to vanish. It creates a slippery slope for all the activities we enjoy to be questioned and put under the watch of the government. And that is not freedom.

So while Michele Bachmann may feel it appropriate to shove her religion in the face of Americans, perhaps she should take a moment to recognize that her signing of this Marriage Vow is in direct opposition to another vow she claims to have taken: To be a representative of the citizens of the United States. With the troubling issues facing this nation, it is shameful that a presidential candidate would spend her political capital on trying to limit our individual rights by restricting what we can do in the privacy of our bedrooms.