I once wrote a story that landed me in hot water.
It was a racy article about a blue Swedish love potion named Niagara and – gasp! – sex. The story created quite a stir in my neck of the woods, the conservative Bible belt South. For all the angst, I learned a valuable lesson in that drama 10 years ago: Conservatives are sometimes more broadminded than liberals.
As my colleague Karen Tulmulty wrote in the wake of the Rush Limbaugh fracas, she has experienced criticism from both sides as a journalist. But many times the “blatantly sexist attacks” have come from the left. I couldn’t agree more.
When I wrote about sex in 2001, it was the 21st century, after all, not the dark ages when cavemen dragged women by their hair to dark caves. The mantra “You've come a long way, baby,” energized women even if it was created to sell harmful cigarettes. Madonna had broken barriers in the 1980s with “Like A Virgin” and a coffee-table book entitled “Sex.” When my article posted on the website, Nerve, “Sex and the City” was one of the must-watch shows on television.
But some people weren’t at all ready for a real-life Carrie Bradshaw.
Local liberal media lashed out at me, writing in opinion columns that the topic of sex should be left in the bedroom. Radio jocks made crass jokes about me. The state’s PBS station “uninvited” me from a political talk show because I had written about sex. I’d argue banned since another invitation has never been extended. Friends who touted themselves as open-minded suddenly became very much the opposite. Men who pretended to be pro-woman suddenly acted like I was a modern-day Hester Prynne.
Strangely, conservative friends saw the entire drama in a different light.
They didn’t exactly cheer about the explicitness of the piece, but they didn’t damn me to hell either. They looked at the situation in the prism of the Constitution. The First Amendment granted me the right to write what I wanted. In turn, they had the right to bear arms under the Second Amendment. My computer’s keyboard was my weapon of choice.
We could have argued the minutia of both amendments, but, rather, I was quite happy merely to have some support. Some of my conservative friends said they didn’t read the story because of its controversial, sexual nature. I know they lied. They are as drawn to sex as any liberal. After all, regardless of the D or R by someone’s name, sex doesn’t recognize party affiliation.
Some conservatives often twist the founding fathers’ words, but it’s not like the left plays fair all the time either. Write something critical about a conservative, say like Sarah Palin, and the viral emails fly. But they aren’t alone. Write something negative about a liberal, like Nancy Pelosi, and they, too, have a hissy fit. We, in the media, are simply damned if we do, damned if we don’t.
However, at end of an argument, a conservative may just understand your basic rights more than a liberal. If they don’t, simply recite the Second Amendment lesson I learned from some savvy GOP pals a few years ago.