By Wayne Allyn Root, Candidate for the Libertarian Party Presidential Nomination
Published reports say that religious leaders and anti-pornography groups are joining forces to demand that “pornography” be banned from military bases around the world. What an outrage! Don’t we have enough to worry about in this world- our men and women in the military are dying at the hands of a vicious enemy in a war that many Americans don’t support; our housing markets are crumbling; the stock market is crashing; gas prices are threatening to cripple our economy; many experts fear a depression as bad as the 1930’s is fast approaching; Iran’s threatening to join the nuclear club and wipe Israel off the world map; Putin and Russia appear headed to a new Cold War with America; we face a terrorist threat every day; and religious zealots are worried about whether our soldiers are allowed to read Playboy or not? You’ve got to be kidding me?
First of all, who defines “pornography”? This is a slippery slope we are headed for. One man’s porn is another’s entertainment. To be blunt, it’s none of your damn business what any American chooses to enjoy or watch in the privacy of his or her bedroom. This is one of the big reasons why I left the GOP. I was a lifetime Republican supporter, voter, contributor (and former candidate). I was invited to the White House by President Bush. I attended parties at the White House. Yet I made a decision a year ago to morph from lifelong Republican to dedicated Libertarian. The decision was made because of the intolerance exhibited by religious extremists who have high-jacked the GOP.
This controversial issue reminds me of an old story about the Holocaust. It goes something like this: “First they came for the Jews…and I did not speak out. Then they came for the Communists…and I did not speak out. Then they came for the Catholics…and I did not speak out. Then they came for me…and there was no one left to speak out.” Now extremist right-wing religious leaders and left-wing extremist feminists are joining forces to try to ban Playboy (and material like it) from our U.S. military bases. Who are these religious right-wingers and leftist feminists to tell me what I can watch or read? Who gave them authority to determine what materials are “allowed” on military bases? What gives them the right to define morality for G.I.’s? Who made them the arbiters of right and wrong? Who gave them the right to override the constitution and ban freedom of speech? Playboy plain and simple represents FREE SPEECH. It is none of anyone’s business to tell our fighting boys (and girls) on military bases what to read or watch. It’s called freedom. It’s called choice. In case you’ve forgotten, it’s at the heart of the American way of life. If a soldier is willing to risk his or her life on behalf of this country; if they are willing to die to protect my freedom and rights; then I think we owe it to them to protect THEIR rights; their freedom; their choice; their right to do and watch and read whatever they want in the privacy of their bedroom (or barracks or tent).
When you allow anyone (or any one group) to determine what is right, what is moral, what is allowed- you’ve driven down a slippery slope. Today it may be Playboy or online gaming that is deemed immoral and banned. Tomorrow it may be liberal atheists in power, and Christian activists may be outraged to find religious programming like TBN and 700 Club banned. In a society that values freedom of speech and expression, government should not ever be in a position to ban anything.
Last I checked, banning free speech (and yes, that includes pornography) is exactly what the Taliban does. Isn’t that precisely why we’re fighting a war against Islamic extremism- so that everyone everywhere can have the freedom of personal choice? Aren’t we supposed to be different than the repressive Taliban? What if the personal choice of Iraqi’s happens to be porn or Playboy? Do we ban it in the name of morality? If so, what makes us different than the repressive Taliban?
When we liberated Iraq, do you know the first thing that appeared in the streets? Pornography! It was banned under Saddam. Yet it was everywhere within days of liberation. Sorry my religious and feminist friends- that’s the price of freedom and democracy. When intolerance rules, people feel suppressed. When freedom rules, all the things that were banned become instantly popular. Free people choose sexual freedom. It’s a fact of life. We wanted to bring democracy to the Iraqi people. We did- and they choose pornography. Now we have to live with that choice. The choice of many of our men (and women) in uniform fighting the good fight for freedom is Playboy. Can you imagine that? The freedom fighters actually dare to want freedom for themselves? That choice is protected by the Constitution. And it happens to be a private choice that is none of anyone else’s damn business.
What is it that religious extremists and leftist feminists fear about Playboy? That it will be damaging to the psyche of our men in uniform? Can you even imagine what these G.I.’s see on a daily basis? Does anyone actually believe that after experiencing the horrors of war, that reading Playboy is dangerous or offensive to a soldier’s well being? The reality is that giving our soldiers the freedom to read what they want (Playboy or otherwise) might serve to remind them of what they are fighting for- the idea that in our great country we have the freedom of personal choice. And as a bonus, seeing pictures of beautiful, sexy American women might raise their spirits in the bargain. Trust me- our All-American boys aren’t fighting for Pat Robertson or James Dobson. They are much more likely to be fighting for Pamela Anderson and Carmen Electra. And if seeing a sexy picture of a beautiful woman makes our boys happy at night- well then I’m going to fight for that right until my last breathe.
Someone needs to say it out loud and perhaps it’s time for a legitimate Presidential candidate to be honest for once. Many (if not most) All-American men actually like beautiful naked woman! We love America precisely because we have the freedom to read Playboy and admire the centerfolds. Some of us think it’s one of the great things about freedom and democracy. We love America because no one throws us in prison for looking at naked women in magazines. Isn’t that a good thing? Isn’t that what freedom is all about?
Very plainly, this is why millions of Americans are turning off to today’s GOP. Intolerance has turned the GOP from a majority to a minority party. Intolerance quashes freedom. Either we believe in freedom or we don’t. Either we support free speech (and free expression) or we don’t. Either we believe in “different strokes for different folks” or we don’t. Either we’re fighting for freedom and democracy in Iraq, or we’re not. We can’t support freedom for Iraqis, while we take away those same freedoms from our GI’s. We can’t ban Playboy, or any other freedom of expression, from the men and women who are risking their lives overseas- all the while telling the world that ensuring those freedoms is exactly why we’re fighting (and dying in) this war. How absurd. How hypocritical. How un-American.
I don’t care if you agree or disagree with my personal views about homosexuality, pornography, abortion, stem cell research, gambling, and a dozen other moral issues. Quite frankly, these are personal and private issues between each one of us, our conscience and God. However, what I do care about and what I’m willing to fight and die for is your freedom to have and express those views- WHATEVER THEY MIGHT BE! Whether I agree or disagree does not matter. I’ve never smoked a cigarette in my life- but I’d fight to the death for your right to do so. I’m not a drinker. I haven’t drank so much as a beer in 25 years- but I’d fight for your right to do so. I’m not a nightlife afficianado. I’m home every night with my wife and kids. But I’d fight for your right to party every night. That’s the strength of freedom and democracy. What is important is that I’d fight to the death to protect what you believe- whether I agree with it or not. And of course I expect you to do the same on my behalf.
By the same token, I’d fight for your right to watch TBN or Pat Robertson on television. I’d fight for your right to read the Bible, the Torah or the Koran. I’d fight for your right to pray. I’m a spiritual man myself. My children pray before every meal and kneel down before God at bedtime. I start every day with prayer. I’ve written about the power and importance of prayer in each of the 6 books that I’ve authored. The difference is- all of these acts need to be protected in the name of freedom- but never forced upon others. I will protect your choices and your beliefs- but I will never allow you to force others to choose what you choose, to believe what you believe. That’s the point of freedom. You are free to read Playboy, or read the Bible- but not to shove your beliefs down my throat.
Free speech and free will are in place to insure that you have a right to make private decisions that do not affect the rest of us. Reading Playboy is certainly one of those decisions. I’m willing to fight and die for Playboy. I’m also willing to fight and die for your right to read the Bible. They go hand in hand. What these right-wing religious and moral zealots (and left-wing feminists) fail to see is that freedom is not for any one side or cause. Freedom is for everyone and everything. It knows no limits. It has no bounds. That’s what makes America great and worth fighting for. God Bless America. And God Bless our men and women in uniform fighting around the world so that everyone of us can have the right to read the Bible and/or Playboy.
Wayne Allyn Root is a Libertarian Presidential candidate. For more about Wayne and his bold stands on important political issues,