John Waters on “Free Speech” (Adult Contents)
The Baltimore Icon and celebrated film director, John Waters of “Hairspray” and “bad taste” fame, shared his views on the controversial issue of “Free Speech” in our society and its limits. His comments were part of a “Symposium on Free Speech,” cosponsored by the Maryland Institute College of Arts (MICA) and the Maryland branch of the ACLU, on September 17, 2007, in Baltimore, MD. Mr. Waters recalled his many problems with the now defunct Maryland Film Censor Board getting his early movie classics publicly presented; the heroics of “Grove Press” in its censorship battles over banned books; and, generally, the matter of “Freedom of the Press” in this country. Before a capacity audience, Mr. Waters, who is also an author, standup comic and lecturer, touched on subjects as varied as: Lenny Bruce; objecting to Spiro T. Agnew; Pro Peace protesters at the Pentagon; “Red Necks;” cigarette ads; movie ratings; the Internet; “The Block” in Baltimore City; ex-Maryland Governor Harry Roe Hughes; MICA; and the atheist, the late Madalyn Murray O’Hair, who he said: “loved being hated.” In his talk, Mr. Waters also traced the history of how certain words have been held to be obscene, but that after a period of time, those very same words have found their way into the mainstream as a result of the evolving community standards.