Author Bradley Finnearty
In a time when free speech is under attack by groups like ANTIFA and others who demand politically correct speech and actions the world lost a true beacon of light. Hugh Heffner died of natural causes with his family surrounding him on Wednesday September 27. A sad day those who love free speech everywhere.
I remember being one of the ones who in the 80's fought against the censorship that the extreme right conservatives were trying to use against magazines such as Playboy, Penthouse and others. At the time I was considered to be a radical liberal because I spoke out against those trying to shut down Playboy and the others. The mere thought of a government, a group or anyone else telling people what they could or could not read or say was one that was worth fighting for.
People deep inside the Reagan White House were trying their hardest to tell people that they could not read magazines that they found to be offensive. That was the first that I can remember in modern times of people using the word "offensive" to try to stop something they did not agree with. In other words the beginning of the "politically correct" movement. I was apposed to it as much in the 1980's as I am now. There were others who are in the same boat as me. Ones who 50 years ago were against the government telling people what they could and could not read who are today criticized as being "extreme right wing and fascist".
Newt Gingrich lead campus protests in 1968 while at Tulane University he helped lead an anti-censorship protest in defense of sexually explicit photographs. A Reuters article titled Newt 1968: Gingrich led protests against nude censorship They reported that "Gingrich warned Tulane’s president of an impending “clash of wills” over the university administrator’s decision to ban publication of explicit photographs in “Sophia,” a literary supplement for the student newspaper “The Tulane Hullabaloo.” The article goes on to state that there was an evolution of Gingrich's thinking because he now apposed the President Barrack Obama and talked Obama's respect of Saul Alinsky.
But to me it is just an example of how the entire political scene has shifted over the past 40 years. My own circumstances are a great example. I have always believed in small government. I have always believed the government does not have the right to tell people what they can and can not read. I have always believed that the more power you give the government the fewer rights and freedoms the people have. So how did I go from being a radical liberal to an "alt right" conservative without ever changing my views?
The fact is that the political landscape has changed. In the 80's there was a deep distrust of the government. There were groups such as People For The American Way who watched the government to make sure they were not overstepping their legal bounds. Today that same organization by way of statement on their website state "For more than three decades, we’ve been working with over one million members and activists to fight right-wing extremism and defend constitutional values under attack. Today, our mission is more critical than ever." has taken it from fighting for smaller government to fighting right wing extremism.
That is just one example, there are many more. The concept of small government has been around since the inception of America in the 1770's. The George Orwell book 1984 depicted the extremes of a government that has too much power. It was taught in school and in college. It was pointed to as a powerful piece of literature. Today it ranks as high as #5 most challenged book of all time. ... It has also been banned and challenged in many U.S. schools. Now how could a book that was once lauded as a great piece of literature now be banned?
We as a people just 40 years ago would never have accepted the concept of socialism or communism in our country. Today people like Alinsky are held up as great people. Che Guevara is heralded as a freedom fighter. These people are the epitome of big government. Of restricted rights. But yet are now considered being for the people.
The other point of interest in this is that the left today is using some of the same arguments that the right used 30 to 40 years ago. Today there are people who are protesting magazines like Playboy saying they demean women. That children should not be subjected to those types of things etc. The troubling part about all of it is that these arguments did not work then but they do now. Another change in the political landscape.
Today one of the most left leaning and big government presidents of all time is exulted and revered. His legacy will go down among many as being one of the greatest of all times. Something that just 40 years ago was unthinkable.
That is the tragedy about the last 40 years. Today people who have the desire to go out and build their own business. People who are apposed to the government taking control of our lives. People who just want to be left alone to live the way they want are called extremists, selfish and alt right.
The death of Hugh Heffner, a champion of free speech, a champion of keeping the government out of our daily lives is tragic and sad. I am sad for him, his family and those who knew him. I had fond memories of articles that I have read in Playboy. I remember the interest in learning that he was able to get the latest female celebrity to pose in his magazine. We all had to run out and buy the Farrah Fawcett issue or the Sally Struthers issue. I remember the disappointment in that issue as she was actually not as pretty as one would think. That issue taught people that some times it is better to have an imagination than to have the real thing.
There was also the anticipation of the John Lennon interview just prior to his death. To learn how he felt about the Beatles, his life and his music. To learn the stories behind the music, the breakup and all of it. To be able to go back and read the interview with Dr. Martin Luther King and to understand that he was not afraid of the people who hated him or of death.
Then there was the article by Gore Vidal titled “Sex Is Politics,” where he asserted that sexual issues were used by politicians as a controlling mechanism in society.
Today the protests and hatred of Playboy comes from feminist groups who say that it objectifies women. The same argument used 40 years ago only from the opposite side of the political spectrum. Had either one of the these groups been successful the interviews and articles that I listed above would never have been printed.
That is the point of this entire article. We as a society, as a people can not allow anyone to take our freedom of speech away from us. Even if they find it repugnant or distasteful it can not be abridged. The right of a conservative speaker must be protected against groups like ANTIFA and others just as groups like people for the American Way must be free to speak even through the objections of The Eagle Forum or the Tea Party. During some debates I have been told by some that not all ideas are equal and those that are less equal should not be allowed to be heard.
But the thing that this person did not think about is who decides what is a better idea than others? Who is responsible for policing a "thought crime"? Who determines what a thought crime is? Is something always going to be a thought crime? If a Democrat is in office then wouldn't there be different thought crimes than when a Republican is in office?
So what is a thought crime? "The power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one's mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them....To tell deliberate lies while genuinely believing in them, to forget any fact that has become inconvenient, and then, when it becomes necessary again, to draw it back from oblivion for just so long as it is needed, to deny the existence of objective reality and all the while to take account of the reality which one denies" In other words to me it is to say that if you question what is being told to you by people in charge or who want to be in charge then you have committed a thought crime.
In this article I pointed out how a magazine like Playboy has gone from loved to hated and from hated to loved by certain segments of society. The people who loved and honored Playboy in the 80's are now attacking it's existence. The people who hated it then are now saying they have free speech and leave them alone.
It is funny how the death of one person can bring a person to think about how a persons thought process digests the news.
About the author
I am a certified webmaster who has lived a life dealing with bipolar depression. My goal is to not only help others dealing with bipolar and depression but to help those around them to understand what is going with their loved ones. I write about how I deal with it and hope that it inspires you to understand that you don't have to let it control you. You control it. I write the way I talk. I want you to feel like I am talking with you in a conversation, not preaching at you in a way that makes you feel like you have to do what I tell you. I hope you enjoy my blog posts about not only bipolar but all things that I write about.
How do you feel about the death of Hugh Heffner? Do you think that he did a lot for free speech or did he just make money on the objectification of women? Do you think our society holds free speech in high regard anymore?