Taking Our Freedom of Expression Overseas?
Miley Cyrus is known for a great many things, but “champion of freedom” is probably not going to be added to the list anytime soon.
As reported by Dominican Today, Miley Cyrus apparently set a legal challenge in motion in early September that might have lasting repercussions for artistic expression in the free world.
Then again, it probably won’t. Because it didn't. Let me explain.
The story goes something like this: Miley Cyrus was supposed to play a concert in Santo Domingo, in the Dominican Republic, on September 13th. The performance was supposed to be the next stop on her ongoing “Bangerz” tour, but it wasn't meant to be. The National Commission for Public Performances decided that the concert would be at odds with the “morality and customs” of Dominican law.
I have mixed feelings about twerking just like any other American citizen, but I had no idea that Ms. Cyrus’ definition of “art” was actually illegal in certain parts of the world. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Miley reacted like many of us probably would: she filed legal papers to get the decision reversed.
So how did it turn out? I have no idea. And I don’t really care. It doesn't appear that she was successful, because I haven’t found an update to the story.
Here’s why her failure to reverse the decision is a very good thing.
When in Rome…
Here’s the bottom line: Americans get understandably hot under the collar when it comes to foreigners pushing their ways of life, laws, and in some circumstances, even their customs, on an unsuspecting American population.
To be blunt, why should we be surprised when other countries behave exactly the same? The thing is, America enjoys a great many freedoms that other countries don’t appreciate, not the least of which is artistic expression.
I’m not saying that Miley Cyrus is wrong for seeking legal action for her specific set of circumstances, but I would definitely agree that the Dominican Republic is well within their rights to insist that visiting foreigners – no matter how famous, wealthy, or entitled they may be back in their native country – abide by the laws of the land. So the Dominican Republic objects to Ms. Cyrus’ onstage antics. That’s fair; plenty of us do. She just needs to learn to live with that decision.
The Legal Precedents
Let’s get something straight: the rights of American citizens to express themselves freely and engage in public artistic endeavors is inalienable and unimpeachable. It’s non-negotiable now and forever.
After all, there are laws governing just about every aspect of artistic expression, including applications in real estate, public gatherings, and online speech. We frequently take them for granted, which is why Ms. Cyrus could be forgiven for assuming that her particular brand of tasteless pop noise would be welcomed with open arms by another country. She can do as she pleases here; why not elsewhere?
But here’s the thing: our laws have no sway on foreign soil, no matter how much we’d like it to be so. The Dominican Republic has every right to keep out visiting American celebrities, just as America has every right to insist that Sharia Law not be practiced over here. Nations are sovereign and complicated things, and our carefully formulated sets of beliefs, laws, and customs are frequently incompatible with those of other countries.
This isn't about isolationism, or even about proclaiming one country’s set of ideologies as superior to another; what it’s about is respecting the right of a foreign country to decide for themselves what morality means to them. America has this down to a science, so we shouldn't be surprised when other countries do the same.Filed under: Government, censorship, miley cyrus, freedom of expression
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