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September 05, 2017

OpEd: Let's Hear It For Freethought Day In California!

SACRAMENTO—As adult industry members probably know by now, some of the biggest enemies of free sexual expression are conservative clergymembers, and while we can't speak for what happens in churches in California, the internet is full of reports and reprints of sermons and public statements by clergy practicing nationwide about why pornography is bad, how it's ruining marriages, how it's interfering with brain function, how people are "addicted" to it—need we go on? And to cap it off, every year around Halloween, Morality in Media the National Center on Sexual Exploitation (NCOSE) holds a "White Ribbon Against Pornography" week—even though no one in their right mind would give out XXX DVDs or magazines to trick-or-treating kids! (Guess NCOSE knows what a lot of people give as Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanzaa presents!) So it was refreshing to hear that California state Sen. Richard Pan has introduced Senate Concurrent Resolution 79 (SCR 79) to establish October 15 as "California Freethought Day," a tradition begun in 2002 and celebrated yearly, usually without much fanfare, in part because that first one only attracted 30 celebrants to the state capitol for a mini-demonstration in support of, among other things, church/state separation. "This measure would proclaim October 15, 2017, as the 16th annual celebration of California Freethought Day in Sacramento, California," the Resolution begins, "congratulate past and current volunteers and planning committees of California Freethought Day, support the goals of California Freethought Day, invite Californians to join in the celebration of free thought, science, and the separation of religion and government, and urge other public officials to become more educated about the secular community." Included in the "Whereas" statements in support of the measure are such useful bits of information as, "In its 14 years of celebration, activists such as Thomas Paine, James Madison, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Clarence Darrow, Jane Addams, Frederick Douglass, George Orwell, Frank Zappa, and Bayard Rustin have been inducted into the event’s Free Thought Gallery"; and "The event has provided a platform for local, regional, and national activists to be heard by thousands, including Cleo Kocol, Jerry Sloan, Michael Newdow, Matt LaClair, Jessica Ahlquist, Annie Laurie Gaylor, Greta Christina, Heina Dadabhoy, Jason Torpy, and Mandisa Thomas"; and "California Freethought Day recognizes our state’s constitutional commitment to the freedoms of speech and religion, the validation of our state’s secular community, and the importance of scientific literacy and discovery." Bottom line (among others)? "Resolved, That the Legislature invites Californians to join in the celebration of free thought, science, and the separation of religion and government; and be it further Resolved, That the Legislature urges other public officials to become more educated about the secular community and the values for which they stand." On August 29, the Resolution was approved 4-1 by the Senate Judiciary Committee, and since the bill was amended slightly, a third reading was ordered before the Senate would vote on it—but there's little doubt that SCR 79 embodies the values of a lot of members of the adult entertainment community, so here's hoping it passes soon!

 
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