Monday, April 16, 2007
Is my brain in a cage?
Billboards featuring ads for the recent horror film CAPTIVITY have come under attack for their in-your-face pictures emphasizing the film's themes of torture and murder. I first learned about this at this thread at the Classic Horror Film Board:
After reading this thread, I found that I had to square my free speech absolutism with my revulsion at the fact that such a billboard is something one CANNOT avoid seeing, when you travel a road it's on. I wanted it banned. Then I read of the FTC's consideration of regulating such ads:
That reminded me of how Congress got involved in pressuring comic book companies to self-censor horror comics with the threat that they would step in otherwise. Ugh.
And then I read this:
In that post, a blogger argues that if you draw any line at all in the limits to free speech, those limits will be moved to target any provocative expression of any idea, thereby limiting effective criticism of popular ideas, groups, or people. But the question of the limits of commercial speech isn't addressed. I still felt queasy about that billboard. It wasn't meant for persuasion to a moral or political stand, it wasn't meant as art (not really), it was made to generate sales of tickets.
And I came away being a supremacist. A text supremacist. I would take a stand that commercial speech is protected absolutely, as long as that speech is either text only, or does not feature images that cannot be avoided by others. As with pictures of nudity, it can be hidden. (And nudity doesn't bother me!)