It’s been an interesting week.
On the downside, some of the LGBT community’s strongest political allies lost their seats in Tuesday’s mid-term elections. Three judges who helped give gay and lesbian couples the right to marry in Iowa were voted out, too. And although the Tea Party didn’t have as many big wins as it might’ve, the party did gain strength and recognition. That wouldn’t be such a big deal, if only Party members would stick to economic policy and not veer into cultural issues. As it is, we have a sneaking suspicion that many are just right-wing mutton dressed as fiscally conservative lamb.
On the upside, there were some great victories for LGBT rights. California got a governor who’s very LGBT-friendly. So did Hawaii, where the specter of gay marriage has caused a lot of contentious debate in recent months. (The lame duck governor? Not on our side.) The same holds true in Rhode Island, where Lincoln Chaffee will take the place of Donald Carcieri, who was — and presumably is — a card-carrying member of the hate-fueled National Organization for Marriage.
And then, smack-dab in the middle, we had Ron Howard, confirming that yes, although the “Electric cars are gay” line was removed from the trailer for his upcoming film, The Dilemma, it’ll stay in the movie.
Howard’s reasoning is hard to dispute. First and foremost, he says, Americans can’t get so caught up in what’s appropriate and what’s not that they begin to censor expression. Free speech is a fundamental right — even though, as with hate groups like the Ku Klux Klan, we often have to hold our noses to defend it.
Howard also insists that when taken in context, the line helps poke fun at Vince Vaughn’s character (he’s the one who says it). That character is apparently brash and buffoonish, and when he proclaims, “Electric cars are gay”, the audience isn’t supposed to identify with him: he’s meant to come off like a d-bag.
Howard gets props for his well-reasoned argument — more than Vaughn, who’s taken many opportunities to defend himself and the movie. We agree that censorship is a bad thing, and that Americans have the right to say nearly anything they like.
This is particularly true online for instance. Censorship is one of the main reasons people use methods such as hiding their IP address to access information that governments or other organizations have deemed inappropriate. To learn more about how you can hide your IP address, go to websafetyadvice.com.
No discussion about internet censorship would be complete without mentioning the UAE either. The UAE is famed for its strict censorship laws. Some websites and streaming services are strictly forbidden and are actively blocked by service providers in the country. Furthermore, these censorship policies make it difficult to browse the web freely.
There are ways to circumvent this censorship though. VPNs, or Virtual Private Networks, are fairly commonplace in the UAE. Ultimately, if you are in the UAE you might want to use VPN services to keep your connection private and get around Internet restrictions.
On the other hand, it’s not necessarily a bad thing when artists and others occasionally self-censor. After all, which is more important: making a statement or making it loudly? (Looking at you, Westboro Baptist.)
Bottom line: Ron Howard has every right to say whatever he likes in movies. But at a time when the bullying and suicide of gay teens is splashed across the headlines, maybe Howard should take a moment to reflect.
We’re not worried too much, though: with Vince Vaughn in the lead and a release date of January 14, we’re guessing not that many people will see The Dilemma anyway. (Though it makes a perfect in-flight movie.)
And if electric cars really are gay, as some proudly claim they are? Awesome.