Most people aren't shy about revealing the kind of car they drive; if Toyotas were banned, satisfied Toyota owners would make a fuss. Similarly, most people wil tel you their favorite food, and if it were suddenly subject to a huge tax or limits on availability, its devotees would squawk.
But despite the size of its audience, adult entertainment patrons are not eager to reveal their interests. We live in such a s.e.x-negative environment that adult customers around the country are shamed and demonized; few Americans are willing to lose their job or marriage simply to keep the local strip club open. Since patronizing adult businesses is typically a hidden activity, no one can support it in the normal open way that true democracy requires. Customers won't write letters to the editor, complain to their city councilman, educate their clergy. And so, realistically, supporting the rights of adult entertainment can only be done (1) in principle, and (2) by outside organizations. Opponents of adult businesses exploit this by claiming they they speak for the community, pretending that they don't know that the community is full of customers and supporters who feel intimidated about speaking out-upstanding taxpayers and parents like us. speak for the community, pretending that they don't know that the community is full of customers and supporters who feel intimidated about speaking out-upstanding taxpayers and parents like us.
Opponents of adult entertainment typically focus on denying a business business' s s right to function, to "just make money" and "degrade" s.e.xuality. They rarely mention their right to function, to "just make money" and "degrade" s.e.xuality. They rarely mention their neighbors neighbors' rights to consume this entertainment. Citizens for Community Values, for example, says adult businesses "prey upon unsuspect-ing towns, cities, and counties that don't have [preventive] legislation in place, in order to open their 's.e.x-for-sale' establishments."1 You'd think these businesses were kidnapping unwilling townspeople and forcing them to watch the "s.e.x for sale." This is the same manipulative strategy that focusses on denying "p.o.r.nographers' " rights without discussing consumers consumers' rights, and attempting to limit broadcasters' rights without discussing viewers viewers' rights.
A naif might imagine that if only the consumers of adult material would reach a critical ma.s.s, they would become a political force, but if that were true, it would have happened already. Millions of Americans already go to swing clubs, and tens of millions more patronize strip clubs, ma.s.sage parlors, adult bookstores, nude beaches, home s.e.x toy parties, X-rated DVDs, and other forms of adult entertainment. But the social sanction against such activities is so strong that almost no one will stand up and defend what he or she does, much less a.s.sert its wholesomeness.
Democracy isn't working, because one side (anti-pluralism and pro-censorship) represents cultural (although not behavioral) normativity, while the other side (consumers of adult materials) suffers with cultural dystonia (typical y involving shame, guilt, and silence). In an environment so ambivalent and negative about s.e.xuality, the typical individual wil deny and fear his or her eroticism. So when the civic subject is in any way related to s.e.xuality, any pro-s.e.x voice dies in the throat. This civic paralysis means that s.e.x-positive individuals wil always be dramatical y marginalized. It wil be almost impossible to gather the momentum needed to reach the threshold of political influence-of civic visibility. civic visibility.
And so, one group, the Parents Television Council (PTC), can generate over 98 percent of all indecency complaints to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) over the past two years (and via a mechanical e-mail blaster, at that). As the Cato Inst.i.tute's Adam Thierer notes, the PTC is quickly acquir-ing a "heckler's veto" over programming in America, as many of the shows they complain about receive significant fines or are even driven off the air.2 But virtual y no one writes to the FCC outraged that same-gender kissing is forbidden on network television 24 hours per day; no one complains when shows are tortured with bleeps and electronic gauze. The FCC received very few complaints that the Rol ing Stones were muzzled on their 2006 Super Bowl halftime performance-exactly as they had been on the Ed Sul ivan Show Ed Sul ivan Show 40 years ago. And when something with s.e.xual integrity sneaks in-Chris Rock on Comedy Central, a condom machine in a nightclub bathroom, the cleavage parade on Oscar night, a pharmacy that carries emergency contraception without a fuss-s.e.x-positive people are pleased to 40 years ago. And when something with s.e.xual integrity sneaks in-Chris Rock on Comedy Central, a condom machine in a nightclub bathroom, the cleavage parade on Oscar night, a pharmacy that carries emergency contraception without a fuss-s.e.x-positive people are pleased to Revolutionizing American Government 175 Revolutionizing American Government 175 remain invisible, rather than enjoying a moment out of the closet and tel ing someone, someone, "Yes, this works for me. I like living in this world. Thank you." "Yes, this works for me. I like living in this world. Thank you."
Seventy years after its founding, America was torn by one of the bloodiest civil wars the world had ever seen. Both sides fought like they understood it was a war for the soul of the nation. One hundred forty years after that, we again face a profound conflict about the soul of our nation. Will it be a secular, pluralist democracy as the Founders envisioned, or a theocratic, authoritarian one like the land they left behind?
Those who war on s.e.x often remind us that the Founders wanted everyone to worship as he or she desired. They leave out a crucial detail-the Founders wanted no inst.i.tution forcing or shaping that worship. Today's War on s.e.x is a struggle over whether or not inst.i.tutions will have the right to force Americans to worship-to conform to a single vision of "morality," "chast.i.ty,"
"decency," "family values," even "faith."
When the Civil War ended in 1865, boys and men from each side wearily embraced and shared what little food there was. They stopped to worship their common G.o.d, and talked about planting their common crops. In years to come, these former enemies would gather together on the Gettysburg battlefield and embrace again, marveling at how they had changed each others' lives forever.
I don't see us doing this for many generations, if ever. Those who war on s.e.x mistrust my vision of individual autonomy, s.e.xual integrity, faith in pluralism, and tolerance of differences. They hate what they perceive as our arrogance, narcissism, hubris, and dependence on reason rather than fear. They particularly resent living in a world that will not let them completely run away from their s.e.xual impulses and crippling guilt.
Democracy, secularism, and pluralism are messy, scary, and inefficient-unlike theocracy or totalitarianism. This radical system requires people to accept being periodically uncomfortable as the price for the benefits they get from it (benefits that start with one's own choices being tolerated by everyone else).
When people are no longer willing to manage their discomfort about others'
choices, our entire system breaks down.
We are looking at the early stages of this in America today, where some people don't believe they have to accept their own discomfort about others'
choices. They frame their rejection of this civic requirement as their religious obligation, but they are breaking the democratic covenant. but they are breaking the democratic covenant. And we're all in trouble as a result. And we're all in trouble as a result.
What, then, will be the basis for public policy: fact, science, and personal autonomy, or faith, a single morality, and anxiety reduction? This is the the central question in world politics today. The fact that the vehicle for America's internal discourse is s.e.xuality shouldn't lull us into thinking we're dealing with something trivial. central question in world politics today. The fact that the vehicle for America's internal discourse is s.e.xuality shouldn't lull us into thinking we're dealing with something trivial.
Appendix: Declaration for Human Rights Day- How about s.e.x?
December 12 is International Human Rights Day. Each year, organizations and governments around the world issue statements and resolutions. I'm in favor of just about all of them.
What we don't hear much about is s.e.xual rights. I don't just mean freedom from rape and an end to c.l.i.toridectomies, although those goals are laudable. I mean the concept that the expression of consensual s.e.xuality is a fundamental human right-and that every one of us deserves that right without government interference or social hysteria.
I wrote the following for the Woodhull Freedom Foundation, the national organization devoted to comprehensive s.e.xual liberty for adults. You can explore their fascinating work at http://www.woodhullfoundation.org.
Let it be resolved in honor of International Human Rights Day: Whereas between 20022005, the Bush Administration urged that: * China allow people to pursue any religious belief they want; * Russia allow people to read what they want; * Iran stop executing gay people; * North Korea let people access the Internet; * Afghanistan let women and men mingle socially; * Pakistan and Nigeria prevent the torture and execution of women who engage in non-approved s.e.xual conduct; In this same spirit, all Americans should call on our governments, from the White House down to the smallest locale, to repeal laws and reject tactics restricting our human s.e.xual rights. We should: * cal on the federal government to stop al discrimination against gay people in the military and national security matters, including job clearances; 178.
Appendix * call on county and state courts to adjudicate custody and other parenting cases fairly and rationally, seeking out expertise and scientific evidence rather than relying on prejudice; * call on local jurisdictions to accept the legitimacy of a broad range of consensual s.e.xual behavior, ending inflammatory rhetoric about not being "the kind of community that tolerates such things;"
* call on zoning boards to stop using their power discriminatorily to eliminate venues for consensual s.e.xual expression; * call on alcohol control boards to stop their threats to close down venues hosting law-abiding s.e.xually-oriented events; * call on police departments to stop sending undercover officers to observe consenting s.e.xual behavior.
Like Western Civilization, s.e.xual Rights is an idea worth trying. Let's start in America.
Afterword.I've known Marty Klein for more than a quarter of a century. I have interviewed him for many of my television reports because I always thought his voice should be widely heard on our century's critical issues. That voice is on display here with these essays, courageously taking on the major issues of our day related to s.e.x.
It is no easy task to confront s.e.xual repression, or those who would silence others who speak out for freedom of speech about s.e.x. Klein does this, in compelling chapters full of examples, both historical and contemporary. I know this role, as I have so often been invited on television shows, over many years, to engage in such debates. In such settings, it is common for those who want to silence others to speak over their opponents' point of view, in a literal display of attempted repression using emotional appeals instead of facts.
In his book,,, Klein is clearly waging his own war- Klein is clearly waging his own war- against the repression and demonization of s.e.x. But when he takes on topics such as abstinence-only programs, p.o.r.nography, and cybers.e.x, he should by no means be taken as promoting s.e.xual acting out or endorsing irresponsibility. Instead, he demands facts, making us think and challenging extremists'
points of view. For example, he highlights the lack of peer-reviewed studies that would support the popular but inaccurate a.s.sertion that abstinence-only education works. When Klein corrects the common myth that 'talking about s.e.x makes kids go out and do it,' research proves that point; a study on my radio show callers has shown that not only does open talk not encourage kids to have more s.e.x, but those who are already engaging in the act are motivated to be more careful and more aware of making smarter decisions.
Klein's e-newsletter is called s.e.xual Intelligence s.e.xual Intelligence. In this book, he encourages us to use our intelligence instead of emotion. He bolsters us with factual examples to evaluate issues related to s.e.xuality today from a social and political perspective. He discusses how economics drives s.e.xual repression campaigns, and how fear is used as its fuel. Almost every aspect of s.e.xual life, including words that are biological in nature, have been targets of attack. I remember 180 180 Series Afterword all too well Senator Proxmire's Golden Fleece Awards protesting government funding for a study about the nature of love, and when television investigative reporter John Stossel, in a story about fertility, had to replace the word "e.j.a.c.u.l.a.t.e" in a jar, with "deposit sperm."
As Klein points out, even homespun Minnesota sage and Prairie Home Companion broadcaster Garrison Keillor was taken off the air by a Kentucky (where I grew up) radio station general manager for fear of an FCC indecency fine for twice using the word "breast." Only recently, the state of Alabama outlawed the use of vibrators-body ma.s.sagers proven to help women's and couples' s.e.xual functioning.
While America is often regarded as a role model for other countries, this does not apply when it comes to s.e.x. For example, many delegates at United Nations conferences oppose America's policies regarding reproductive rights. Recently, the World a.s.sociation of s.e.xology proposed its 11-point Declaration of s.e.xual Rights, stating that the full development of s.e.xuality is essential for individual, interpersonal, and societal well-being, and that s.e.xual rights are universal human rights based on the inherent freedom, dignity, and equality of all human beings. These rights include the right to s.e.xual freedom (to express one's full s.e.xual potential), s.e.xual autonomy (to make autonomous decisions about one's s.e.xual life), s.e.xual equality, making responsible reproductive choices, s.e.xual information based upon scientific inquiry, comprehensive s.e.xuality education, and even s.e.xual pleasure. Klein's thesis is consistent with these principles.
Fear is responsible for the extent of s.e.xual problems in individuals and couples today, and must be lifted for s.e.xual health, prevention of disease, and promotion of healthy families. Klein makes us face that fear, as well as the facts and the feelings about s.e.xual freedoms today.
Dr. Judy Kuriansky Series Editor, s.e.x, Love, and Psychology Notes.FOREWORD.1. See Loving v. Virginia, Loving v. Virginia, 388 U.S. 1 (1967). (The Court struck down, in a lawsuit brought by the ACLU, anti-miscegenation laws that were still on the statute books in 16 states.) 388 U.S. 1 (1967). (The Court struck down, in a lawsuit brought by the ACLU, anti-miscegenation laws that were still on the statute books in 16 states.) 2. Lindsey Gruson, "Second Thoughts on Moments of Silence in the Schools,"
The New York Times, March 4, 1984, sec. 6E. March 4, 1984, sec. 6E.
3. See for example, Thomas Jefferson, "Eternal vigilance . . . ," QuoteDB, QuoteDB, http:// http:// www.quotedb.com/quotes/2283 (April 13, 2006).
4. Lawrence v. Texas, Lawrence v. Texas, 539 U.S. 558 (2003); 539 U.S. 558 (2003); Romer v. Evans, Romer v. Evans, 517 U.S. 620 (1996). 517 U.S. 620 (1996).
5. See, for example, Ashcroft v. American Civil Liberties Union, Ashcroft v. American Civil Liberties Union, 542 U.S. 656 (2004); 542 U.S. 656 (2004); Ashcroft v. American Civil Liberties Union, Ashcroft v. American Civil Liberties Union, 535 U.S. 564 (2002); 535 U.S. 564 (2002); Ashcroft v. Free Speech Ashcroft v. Free Speech Coalition, Coalition, 535 U.S. 234 (2002); 535 U.S. 234 (2002); United States v. Playboy Entertainment Group, United States v. Playboy Entertainment Group, 529 U.S. 529 U.S.
803 (2000); Reno v. American Civil Liberties Union, Reno v. American Civil Liberties Union, 521 U.S. 844 (1997). 521 U.S. 844 (1997).
6. Lawrence v. Texas, Lawrence v. Texas, 539 U.S. 558 (2003). 539 U.S. 558 (2003).
7. Bowers v. Hardwick, Bowers v. Hardwick, 478 U.S. 186 (1986) 478 U.S. 186 (1986) . .
8. John Bartlett, Bartlett's Familiar Quotations Bartlett's Familiar Quotations, ed. Justin Kaplan (Boston: Little, Brown, and Company, 1992), 643.
9. John Stuart Mill, On Liberty On Liberty (Indianapolis: Hackett, 1978 ), 73. (Indianapolis: Hackett, 1978 ), 73.
10. See note 6 above, 562.
11. See, for example, See, for example, Nebraska Press a.s.s Nebraska Press a.s.s' n v. Stuart, n v. Stuart, 427 U.S. 539, 582 (1976); 427 U.S. 539, 582 (1976); Smith Smith v. California, v. California, 361 U.S. 147, 169 (1959). 361 U.S. 147, 169 (1959).
12. See note 6 above.
13. See note 6 above, 590.
14. Brown v. Board of Education, Brown v. Board of Education, 347 U.S. 483, 74s.ct. 686 (1954). 347 U.S. 483, 74s.ct. 686 (1954).
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15. Planned Parenthood v. Casey, Planned Parenthood v. Casey, 505 U.S. 833 (1992). 505 U.S. 833 (1992).
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