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Drag Shows Are Free Speech


Drag Shows Are Free Speech

Opinion by Conor Friedersdorf (The Atlantic, 20 Jan 2023)

Gun homicides and car accidents are the leading causes of youth death. American children confront challenges as varied as bullying, poverty, gangs, sexual abuse, mental illness, and drug addiction. A state legislator hoping to protect kids might reasonably focus on any number of issues. Drag shows, those improbable culture-war flash points, are not among them. Yet Republican legislators in at least seven states are pushing bills to restrict shows where performers may deviate from traditional gender norms.

The most sweeping and objectionable proposals are not mere efforts to deprive drag shows of taxpayer funding or to keep them out of public primary schools. Rather, they would classify drag shows (as the sponsoring legislators variously define them) as akin to pornography. They would redefine any venue hosting such a show as an adult business, or try to shield even teenagers from drag in a society where almost all of them have regular access to the internet. Should any such proposal pass into law––at this early stage, their prospects are uncertain and may vary from state to state—the free speech and association rights of private venues, performers, artists, and willing audiences will all be infringed upon. And for what?

It's getting off the hook. Prior to our last president, I thought we were making progress and now it's like a minority of the population has thrown a monkey wrench into it. A pol from North Dakota just introduced a bill to fine trans people 1500 bucks if they don't use the pronouns associated with their assigned sex/gender at birth. Then we have Florida and Texas. Culturally, this problem stretches back centuries and wasn't changed after the civil war when they had the opportunity. </rant>


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