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Allowing female nipples to be seen means total equal freedom

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We have the freedom to believe whatever we think freedom should be even if we think other people’s definition of freedom interferes in our right to have freedom.

Men have had the right to be topless for about 80 years. Men can’t be topless everywhere, of course. “No shirt …” is standard in private establishments, especially around food. Outside in public places, walking down the sidewalk, at the beach, in a park: men have the right to be free and not wear a shirt.

With very few exceptions, women do not have the right to be topless in the United States. We have freedom unless you’re a woman on a hot day who wants to feel cool air on her upper torso.

The upper torso isn’t the issue. Backs, stomachs, collarbones: just fine to be on display in public. The problem, as it were, is breasts.

Actually these days, breasts are not the issue. You can see the majesty of the female breasts through cleavage. The underside of the female breasts is also pretty rare, but not technically illegal.

What is illegal to display in the vast majority of the United States … is the nipple.

Female nipples are very powerful: they are the source of life for babies. But their strongest force, apparently, is to freak people out.

People are scared and nervous about the idea of female nipples being seen in public. But if we think back to the idea of freedom, let’s see where the freedom of women choosing to expose their nipples interferes in the freedom of others.

    • Children

“Will somebody think of the children?” — Helen Lovejoy, The Simpsons. Let’s think of the children. Children 5 and under likely get to see their mother’s nipples quite often, either through breastfeeding or the practical element of intimacy between mother and child. Young children can be scared at an early age but chances are nipples won’t be their greatest fear.

We have a society that strongly encourages women to keep their baby under a blanket when being breastfed in public. Associating a blanket over a head while getting nutrition would scare a child more than the exposure of the source of that nutrition.

Children 6-11 would be intrigued by female nipples. Girls would be curious to see what will eventually happen to them. Girls are more likely to wonder why at that age, they have to keep their nipples covered but their boy counterparts get to run around without a shirt.

Boys at a similar age who, if they aren’t paying attention to girls, are still likely to notice women who don’t have on a shirt. “Why does that woman not have a shirt on?” a boy might ask. A simple “adults are allowed in certain situations to be allowed to go without a shirt” will suffice. Children are curious but if breasts are out in the open, they are less likely to think of them as being a big deal.

    • Teenagers

Children who eventually will become teenagers won’t think too much of a woman on a beach without a shirt or a bikini top. Teenagers who are already teenagers will have an adjustment period.

Girls who are in this age group might be shy to join in adult women who choose the topless option. Other girls may not care and will be some of the first adopters. They will learn quickly that freedom can apply across gender lines, setting a positive example for young females.

Teenage boys tend to get swept up in hormones, so even a bra or a hint of a bra can be enough to set them off. If you take a poll of teenage boys who are straight, you will get very few votes against women going topless.

    • Adults

So far, we have groups that will need adjustment. But none of them have the slightest inclination of being offended by female nipples.

Clearly we have found our source of concern: adults. Most men aren’t offended by female nipples; they would welcome female nipples in the landscape.

Adult women have the most to gain. If enough women on a beach go this route, there isn’t just one direction to take notice.

We have to be realistic. Some adult men and women find female nipples to be offensive. To be fair, this is the same group that objected when male nipples were exposed. They object to nipples, mostly female but not always.

Religion, oddly enough, is an issue with some of them. Adam and Eve were naked in the Garden of Eden until they eat the apple. According to the logic of the story, things were ideal when they were naked. Shame only came when they disobeyed God.

These people feel shame today for seeing bodies exposed. They are as likely to be upset by cleavage as nipples.

    • Freedom

One of the arguments for same-gender marriage is that their marriages don’t threaten “traditional marriages.” The freedom to marry doesn’t interfere with people who are already married or those who choose not to get married to anyone.

If a woman chooses to be topless in a park or on a beach, she doesn’t interfere in someone else’s preference to not go topless. Many men choose to not go topless even when they have the opportunity. Others do so every chance they can get to be topless.

A woman seeing another woman who is topless might be encouraged to join her but is under no obligation to do so. For all the “talk” about gays “recruiting” others, there also isn’t any agenda for those for topless freedom to force anyone to join in who is not comfortable.

Same-gender marriage and topless freedom both are about the freedom to do something that doesn’t threaten other people.

Pride Weekend is always a grand celebration, but especially this year. Chances are in attending a Pride Parade that you will see a woman wearing bandages or stickers over her nipples, but otherwise have their breasts exposed.

The women who do this are beautiful for taking the bold step, even if the stickers and bandages seem a bit silly. When you see a woman’s breasts, the whole breast except for the nipple, you truly realize how immature we are for being obsessed with keeping the nipple covered.

We aren’t trying to compare the two movements, but just that they come together on Pride Weekend and they are both about freedom. They are asking for rights already being given to other people; they aren’t asking for something that doesn’t already exist.

People can be offended if a man takes off his shirt, either because they are concerned about all men who are topless or a particular male chest. Yet men are allowed to be topless.

Movements such as Free The Nipple have done a lot to expose people to this cause. Teenagers taking selfies and sexting has opened up a generation that isn’t as afraid to show nipples.

When a young woman from Iceland was cyberbullied after posting a topless picture, a number of Icelandic women went to Twitter and posted pictures showing a nipple or two in solidarity. One of those Icelandic participants was a female politician.

With all those nipples floating around the Internet, the world didn’t suddenly freeze. People who chose to look did so. Those that didn’t chose to look were not harmed by having pictures of nipples all around the Internet.

Freedom and tolerance requires us to respect the feelings and views of those who think topless females do harm to society. That has to be weighed against the harm to society that comes from not allowing women that option. Bad body images, low self-esteem, feeling not equal for reasons that feel trivial: being denied total equal freedom comes at a price. The question is whether that price is costlier and whether we want to keep paying that price for a lack of total equal freedom.


Written by democracysoup

July 3, 2015 at 6:00 am

Chick-Fil-A should be about love, not hate

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Dan Cathy has kicked up the heat on Chick-Fil-A and gay marriage. Yes, we know the restaurant chain supports “traditional marriage” and contributes money to groups fighting against gay marriage. By making that stance more than obvious, Chick-Fil-A’s PR nightmare shows that associating a brand with hate, not love, is detrimental to the financial bottom line.

Conservatives are trying to help out the Chick-Fil-A franchise by declaring today as Chick-Fil-A Appreciation Day. Pro gay marriage forces have organized a “kiss-in” for Friday. The conservatives, such as Mike Huckabee, Billy Graham, Sarah Palin, and Rick Santorum, aren’t necessarily there for the chicken sandwich, but there to counter the move toward equality in marriage.

For more on the coverage and an in-depth analysis, check out this column from our sister blog,

President Obama needs to stay strong on ideas of community and infrastructure

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President Obama finally gave the speech on infrastructure that the United States needed to hear in 2008, 2009, 2010, and 2011. Since the speech came in the heat of the presidential race, and thanks to the “unbiased” take from Fox News, the president’s words were taken out of context and severely distorted.

What has been missing from the context of the heated back-and-forth is why the distortion worries conservatives and teabaggers, and how the idea of infrastructure has slipped into an exclusively Democratic talking point.

Back when I covered politics for a living, I noted that the president-elect had a great opportunity to convince Republicans that infrastructure was a great way to spend needed government stimulus.

Obama had the ideal mix of individualism and community that Americans are supposed to have, and had when building what was a great country.

Liberals and Democratic people like individualism, but wrapped in a community. E.J. Dionne keeps pointing out that William F. Buckley believed in community, but the modern teabaggers thrive on individualism without that lack of community.

When you hear conservatives claim that a single private citizen could have thwarted the Aurora mass shooting, you know that they have no trust in a community function. We may have settled the West with individualism, but people couldn’t have survived out there without community.

The media’s coverage of Fox News’ distortion and Mitt Romney’s hypocrisy was along the lines of “these things happen.” Attention, MSM: Fox “News” is not in the same business you are. Never has been. Never will be. If you did what they did, you would be fired. At Fox “News,” you get a raise.

Since the MSM needs a lesson in covering lies and distortion, they should learn a lesson from The Daily Show and its resident crank, Lewis Black. You find more truth in Black’s rant than in the MSM coverage, and more balanced, too.

You shouldn’t get your news from The Daily Show or the sister show, Colbert Report. On occasion, you should listen to what they have to say, when the MSM (once again) drops the ball.

Barack Obama finally comes out in favor of same-sex marriage — again

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Bill Clinton inhaled. And Barack Obama says he’s cool with same-sex marriage.

We all knew Bill Clinton inhaled, but he couldn’t admit it. We all knew Barack Obama was in favor of same-sex marriage, but he couldn’t admit it. Obama was in favor of same-sex marriage in 1995 — the first time.

The idea that Joe Biden saying he was in favor of gays getting married was a gaffe is part of why the Washington MSM media mentality is so destructive. When hatemongers spew hatred, they get the tip of the cap from the MSM elite. When a sitting vice president speaks about love, it’s an embarrassment.

Never mind that Dick Cheney said it before it was cool in some circles. Biden said it, Education Secretary Arne Duncan, and then the first President of the United States to say it said it: gays and lesbians should be able to get married.

The Dems are the ones that set up Irony Fest ’12 in placing its national convention in North Carolina, the state that just passed Amendment One that bans gay marriage, civil unions, and domestic partnerships. What a fun time that will be in Charlotte. On the other hand, the Democratic National Convention will be the closest that natives may get to gay and lesbian visitors. Seriously, if you are gay or lesbian, would you go to North Carolina if you didn’t have to go?

Mitt Romney said for his part that marriage should be between a man and a woman. Will the MSM have the guts to ask Romney about the fact that his grandfather was part of a polygamy commune in Mexico? For those who argue for the traditional definition of marriage, as Romney does, Mormons would argue that their tradition is polygamy and Romney is a Mormon.

Part of that traditional definition of marriage would have nullified the marriage of the president’s parents. In fact, Virginia wouldn’t have recognized Obama’s parents marriage at the time Obama was born. For this reason alone, Obama should have been in favor of gay marriage from at least since the 2008 convention.

But Democratic politicians have felt the need to hide their true self and beliefs because the MSM and others pressure them to do so. George W. Bush proposed a Constitutional amendment that took away rights from Americans. No eyes were batted on that news. Then again, the Dem politicians look foolish when they do fall in the MSM trap.

We know where Romney stands on the marriage front, but his take on gays has come under question in two separate instances. Romney’s refusal to stand up for Richard Grenell, his foreign policy spokesman, who was likely hounded out of his job because he was gay, was disgraceful. And Romney went out of his way to dispel the notion that a prank he had played on someone when he was in high school had nothing to do with whether the victim was gay. “That was the furthest thing from our minds back in the 1960s.”

Then again, the boy was picked on because he stood out. Regardless of sexual orientation, the “prank” — pinning the boy and cutting off his ponytail — was rather cruel.

Romney did come up and said gay people should be able to adopt, leading to the idea of a family, but not have the parents get married. Huh?

The one person who has the proper perspective who we have not heard from on this issue is Newt Gingrich. After all, we had a major presidential candidate on the GOP side with a blood relative who is a lesbian. Candace Gingrich is the half-sister of the former Speaker of the House. Though political junkies knew of Candace’s existence, the MSM left her out of the equation when gay marriage issues came up. We’ve heard this “well, the public already knows about this” mentality. Guess what? A whole new generation of young people didn’t know. And not every reader, listener, and viewer remembers every little nuance of candidates, past and present.

“No to all incumbents and no to Amendment One.”

The best line was from one of my Facebook friends from North Carolina. While I can’t agree over the incumbents stance (oversimplification of what is happening politically), I love how he acknowledged what conservatives have traditionally stood for: getting government out of people’s business. This includes the bedroom.

Trust me, he is plenty conservative. But he also knows that government shouldn’t be deciding who can get married.

Rick Santorum won 3 times last night, but Mitt Romney will be the long-term winner

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“The more you get to know them, the less you like them.”

One fun game I have stumbled upon in this early part of the 2012 election is “Do you know this about [insert name of candidate]?”

Most of the country played this game with Barack Obama in 2008. When you live in the state of a major presidential candidate, you know more about that person than others.

In 2012, those of us who have covered politics know quite a lot about the GOP presidential candidates because they’ve been around for awhile. I know stories about Mitt Romney, I remember things Newt Gingrich did, and I know who Rick Santorum was before Google made him famous.

The general electorate doesn’t remember these nuances. The political media’s job is to remind the voters about who these people are.

The bad news for the Republican candidates is that when voters learn more about the candidates, they don’t like them as much.

This is the major reason why Rick Santorum won three contests — Minnesota, Missouri, and Colorado — last night.

Of course, Santorum will tell you that these people love his hard-core conservative principles. And he is correct. But Santorum has been forgotten for weeks now, outside of his family and strong supporters. And that helped him at the polls.

But now that people will start to pay attention to Santorum, they’ll get to know him and not like him.

Santorum has now won 4 states, yet he’s been considered an also-ran in the race. Gingrich has won 1 state, and the press treats him as a Romney equal. The MSM has cowed in fear of Gingrich since 1994, and this is yet more proof of that phenomenon.

The experts tell you that Newt Gingrich had a bad night. Wasn’t on the Missouri ballot, and wasn’t in either of the other two states on election night. Miserably lost all three races. But Gingrich got something he desperately needed; easing of the spotlight.

The more Gingrich talks, the higher his negative numbers. If the GOP electorate doesn’t hear from him until Super Tuesday, they might start to like him again.

The experts also tell you that Romney had a bad night. It wasn’t good. However, we’ve seen Romney bounce back well after losing a state. And even if Missouri caucuses for Santorum, Romney is still far ahead in the delegate race.

The best gift for Romney last night? Santorum got momentum, keeping him as a viable candidate so Santorum and Gingrich will split the teabagger vote. The longer that those two fight for the same voting bloc, the better Romney will do, especially on Super Tuesday.

Ron Paul had a good night, though his showing in Nevada was not as strong as predicted. The pundits are still figuring out Ron Paul’s purpose. Paul doesn’t have to tell us where all this is going, but he should start planning for what his summer and fall will look like. This is Ron Paul’s last stand. Well after the GOP gets its presumptive nominee, Ron Paul will be a factor.

We can talk about Santorum’s momentum, Paul’s moderate success, and Gingrich’s well-needed time out of the spotlight. But as Obama and Hillary Clinton can tell you, this race comes down to delegates. Because of the delegates, Romney was the ultimate winner last night.

South Carolina notebook: Candidates rushing to leap rather than be pushed out of the race

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We knew that some of the 2012 GOP presidential candidates would be practically eliminated after South Carolina. Two of them jumped before they were pushed.

— Jon Huntsman’s timing was bad because it looked like he dropped out as he realized he would lose to Stephen Colbert. Huntsman endorsed Mitt Romney, which seemed sad since most independents, if they had to vote for a Mormon former governor with great hair, would have picked Huntsman over Romney.

— Rick Perry’s timing was bad because it looked like he dropped out as he realized he would have to debate one more time. Perry endorsed Newt Gingrich, which seemed sad since if the coin had come up tails, Rick Santorum would have had the endorsement. Perry likes coins because they offer only two options; he never remembers the third option for some reason.

— Herman Cain’s timing was great because it looked smarter for staying out. Cain endorsed Colbert’s bid to campaign under his name, which seemed sad since Colbert is a better candidate as a fake candidate than Cain was as a real candidate.

— Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich combined would represent a serious threat to Mitt Romney. Not quite in a Barack Obama/Hillary Clinton kind of race, but the tightest race the Republicans have had since, well, William Howard Taft and Teddy Roosevelt. The problem is even though they are vested and experienced politicians, while they know they are splitting the conservative vote, neither of them can get the other one to leave. Santorum’s Iowa win, now confirmed, would give him that momentum, but Gingrich’s loudness overshadows Santorum’s attempts to get noticed. After all, Santorum didn’t have an ex-wife on “Nightline” this week. Gingrich should be thankful it was only one.

— Gingrich got a partial standing ovation for confronting John King on asking the question about an open marriage in Thursday’s debate. As offended as Gingrich appeared to be, he had to love the question so he could react the way he did. As for Gingrich, when you protest that way, we assume your ex-wife’s charge is true.

Gingrich puts his marriages on the record because he preaches family values, the “sanctity of marriage,” and his hypocrisy during the Clinton years. So he shouldn’t pretend to be miffed.

If politicians really could admit what they’re thinking, especially GOP politicians, wouldn’t it have been great for Gingrich to say, “Yeah, I wanted a open marriage. What does that have to do with running the country and getting the economy back on track.” The problem for Gingrich and other “holier-than-thous” is that they would have to admit that family values and “sanctity of marriage” have nothing to do with running the country.

— If you had to name the two most consistent GOP presidential candidates besides Mitt Romney, Rick Perry is the most obvious choice for finishing consistently bad and saying really horrible things but Ron Paul has had two solid finishes and is looking for a third in South Carolina. This isn’t to say that Ron Paul will win or should win. The MSM’s curious coverage of Ron Paul lends itself to conspiracy theories from people who aren’t normally paranoid. The voters have spoken in Iowa and New Hampshire, and later today in South Carolina; the MSM should start listening. If you are running for president and score as high as Ron Paul does, attention should be paid to you. If not, then you aren’t doing your job.

— We would like to welcome back Keith Olbermann to anchor coverage of the South Carolina primary tonight on Current TV. Coverage gets underway at 6:30 pm Eastern and runs 90 minutes. The coverage resumes at 9:30 pm Eastern for another 90 minutes. You might remember that Olbermann sat out coverage of Iowa and New Hampshire.

Building a news operation takes time; even within that, Current TV has been off to a bad start. The graphics issues and lighting problems are real, and Olbermann has every right to be concerned about the professional approach of the cable channel. Cenk Uygur and The Young Turks, Jennifer Granholm, and former Vice President Al Gore, head of Current TV, has done a pretty good job, though their coverage has been sidetracked at times, especially when you want results. I drifted back to MSNBC at times. It does help that MSNBC is in HD and Current TV isn’t, but Rachel Maddow was focused. Olbermann had that potential to keep the focus; Olbermann has done a lot more anchoring than everyone in this paragraph combined. The best solution would be to combine the two approaches into one, but it looks like everyone we’ve seen so far in coverage won’t be there tonight.

Harper government’s legal opinion endangers same-sex marriages by Americans in Canada

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Canada has been a refuge in the last few years for gays and lesbians in the United States who wanted to get married. Couples would travel to Canada, investing time and money into vacations centered around a ceremony where two people in a loving commitment promise to be true to one another.

Now, with one legal opinion in the Harper government, Canada’s refuge status is in serious danger. In a Toronto divorce case, the federal government argues that those binding marriages aren’t if the people involved don’t live where same-sex marriages is legal. Then why would they have gone to Canada if they had known that?

They went to Canada because the marriages were legal in Canada, and many of those couples have received benefits in the United States, public and private, as a result of those marriages. Stephen Harper has a lot of explaining to do, and until he gives a resolute, definitive answer on this subject, Canada’s marriage travel industry is in trouble.

For more on this, check out our take from our sister blog,