March 23, 2007

Unwarranted censorship?

I actually meant to respond to this editorial by Kevin Danilo several weeks ago, but never got around to it. As a refresher, “Girls Gone Wild” was supposed to have a show in Bloomington, but a group of activists protested and convinced the bar owner to cancel the event.

Danilo shows he lacks understanding of Constitutional rights when he opens his letter asking when the United States became part of a group of “oppressive censoring nations such as Cuba, China and the former Soviet Union?” Yes, the Constitution protects freedom of expression from censorship by government. That does not mean anyone can express themselves in any way they want without consequences.

For example, if someone comes into my home and insults me with vulgar and profane language, I am well within my rights to “censor” those opinions by telling that individual that he is no longer welcome in my home.

In the case of GGW, a group of people decided they did not want the organization to be in Bloomington, so they put pressure on the bar owner. Officials from the City of Bloomington met with Dave Kubiak to discuss GGW’s planned visit. While one can question whether it was appropriate for the city to get involved, there has been no indication that city government attempted or threatened to use force to prevent the event from taking place.

What basically happened here is the free market worked. Kubiak decided that the negative publicity from the event and a possible protest was not worth the benefits of bringing GGW to Bloomington. He made a decision that he felt was best for business, under pressure from activist groups. The activists used their own First Amendment freedoms to influence the business practices of a local nightclub.

Davilo goes on to say “who cares about white-collar terrorism when there are exigent issues like girls lifting their shirts.” That is just silly. Opposition to GGW’s aborted visit to Bloomington does not preclude anyone from having an opinion and being active on other issues. Davilo tries to create an either/or scenario where none exists.

I do think it is interesting that GGW drew this much energy when Bloomington has at least one very high-profile strip club. What makes one visit from GGW so much worse than a strip club that operates 7 days a week through the entire year?

I suspect that class envy has something to do with the disproportionate outrage. A representative of the Gender Incidents Team at IU said “Our primary concern is that the person behind this is making lots of money but is fairly disdainful of women.” Was the objection that GGW objectifies women as sexual objects, or that GGW is an international corporation that rakes in buckets of cash?

The Left can have an impact in a way that social conservatives cannot, because they are not dismissed out of hand as a bunch of moralizing prudes. It is a good thing that GGW is getting so much negative publicity, and I hope that activists in other communities apply similar pressure when GGW is scheduled to visit their towns. While there is little chance of shutting down this disgraceful enterprise, injecting some shame into the culture has beneficial effects for society.