Saturday, July 09, 2005

Free Speech

For the past two years, my birthday gift has been a piece of art photography that features my wife and daughter in a nude full-length pose. It's not a portrait, necessarily; in fact, their faces don't even have to show at all. The point is to chronicle the growth of our family through art. The photographer is very good. We just got back this evening from our annual session, so I'll be interested to see how this year's pictures turn out.

At the session, Kate, the photographer, told us something that absolutely horrified us. Apparently her boss at her day job called her into his office this past week and forced her to take down the website for her photography business. His reason? In some of the photos, the subject is obviously nude (although in none of the photos do any "naughty bits" show, not that it matters). He particularly objected to a beautiful picture of a pregnant mom-to-be. I wish the site were still up so I could link to it, but it was an incredible piece of art. Her boss' comment was, "I can't believe you'd put anything that ugly on the web." His reasoning for making her take the website down was that she is "a representative of the company, even when she is off work." Now all of this is just blatently illegal. The site is not being hosted by the company, nor is the company mentioned in any way. Her company is a very large multi-national corporation that seems to think that they own her, body and soul, 24 hours a day. A lot of companies recently have been pushing to be able to dictate their off-duty employees' actions. And they are getting away with it, because people like Kate can't afford the time or the money or the lost income (if fired) to take these corporate taskmasters to court. Even though this is a very clear violation of her First Amendment rights, they can afford much more high-powered lawyers than she could ever hope to. Something is wrong in our country when corporations have that much power. The sad thing is that it's these same corporations who are financing our current government officials (of both parties), so they really do have the power to get their way.

There's also something wrong with a society that fears the unclothed human body. There is no sin in being nude, nor is the human body -- in all its shapes, sizes, and colors -- something to be reviled. I especially don't understand the religious fundamentalists (I am very religious, but am frankly embarassed by the intolerance spread by many so-called religious people) fear of nudity. After all, if Adam and Eve wore clothes because they sinned and were ashamed to face God, shouldn't we all attend church naked now that we've been forgiven? But even if someone disagrees with me on the subject -- which is his or her absolute right -- they don't have the right to tell someone else how to believe or how to act. We make a lot out of the fact that we look down upon and fear the theocracy of Iran. Aren't we turning into the very same thing?

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