Read the Introduction

Unchaining the Human Heart
— A Revolutionary Manifesto
A Book by J. Neil Schulman
Chapter 1: Forbidden Passions

Just what is it in your life that makes it worth getting out of bed in the morning?

For me, my best days are being an explorer.

I don’t have to put on a pith helmet, sling an elephant gun over my shoulder, and trudge into the heart of Africa or through tropical rain forests deep in South America.

What gets me out of bed is finding an idea new to me and following where it leads, whether that journey is writing a new book chapter or story, entrepreneuring a new business, or walking onto a movie set and trying to figure out how I’m supposed to watch other actors in a scene I’m directing while I’m also on camera playing dead.

But what if I wasn’t allowed to write or make movies or pursue new business ideas? What would my life be like then?

I don’t have to time-travel back many years to find authorities that despite a constitutional guarantee of my freedom of speech and freedom of the press would have charged me with a crime because my writing or filmmaking could be interpreted as obscene, blasphemous, seditious, or otherwise contrary to public morals and safety.

The 1961 obscenity trial of novelist Henry Miller is within my lifetime, and had Miller lost I would have had to remove sexually-explicit scenes from my novels Alongside Night, The Rainbow Cadenza, and Escape from Heaven.

The Hays Code for making movies is within my lifetime, and had it not been overturned by free-speech activists the Hays Code would have forbidden me to show my film Lady Magdalene’s in which I portray a house of prostitution as a legal employment opportunity, or the scene in which — playing an al Qaeda trainee — I pull down an American flag and throw it to the ground.

I don’t have to travel very far to find foreign countries that would consider my writing and filmmaking to be libelous to their government or officials, or violating their local laws … and in today’s multinational trade environment could issue an arrest warrant for me that could prevent me from traveling to their country.

But even in the United States, today, my freedom of expression is still controversial.

Recently I wrote a piece for my Facebook friends called “Thank God we still have free speech!”

It read:

Thank God we Americans still have free speech!

You can still say anything you want (unless what you say threatens National Security or public safety, or is hate speech against a protected minority or interest group, or threatens the President of the United States or his family, or reveals the contents of a Grand Jury investigation, or reveals information that might expose the identity of a clandestine field agent or violates insider trading laws or is in opposition to universal health care or is in communication with an extraterrestrial, or is sexual harassment in a workplace, or attempts to fully inform a jury about their right to rule on the law as well as the facts, or violates a non-disclosure agreement, or falsely declares information to the Internal Revenue Service or is crying fire in a crowded theater or is electioneering near a polling place or is a statement in favor of a candidate which hasn’t been declared as a campaign contribution or otherwise violates election laws or threatens the well-being of a minor or incites a riot or reveals information about the location of a person relocated under witness protection or violates a judge’s gag order or is a communication to someone who’s got a restraining order against you or represents an implied threat to a school or its students and teachers or obstructs justice or is deemed to be lying to a federal or police officer during a criminal investigation or promotes the use of tobacco or illegal drugs or is lying to a census taker or is in contempt of court or contempt of Congress or slanders or libels someone or is contemptuous of Muhammad or Allah or is obscene or pornographic or violates someone’s copyright or trademark or is a prayer or statement in favor of a religion within a public school or at an event organized by a public school or violates Facebook’s, Twitter’s, Myspace’s, or YouTube’s terms of service.

So speak up! You have the God-given right of free speech!

(But don’t quote me at a public school.)

For much more of human history than my life — and much more of the world than my country — every time I sat down to write, or tried to make a movie, I’d have to be looking over my shoulder to make sure that some cop or political officer — or some snitch — wasn’t looking for an opportunity to turn me in to the authorities because they disapproved of what I wanted to say.

My creative freedom is one of my passions and is one of the things that makes me libertarian in my views.

Free expression is something I will fight for … and that is not a metaphor. In the extreme necessity I would fight for my right to write.

Yes, it’s that important.

At various times and places other kinds of passions have been outlawed, and only outlaws could express these passions: forbidden love, forbidden sex, forbidden friends, forbidden imagination, forbidden music, forbidden lyrics, forbidden jokes, forbidden words, forbidden poems, forbidden reading, forbidden books, forbidden stories, forbidden movies, forbidden comics, forbidden dancing, forbidden art, forbidden science, forbidden math, forbidden buildings, forbidden faiths, forbidden foods, forbidden drink, forbidden plants, forbidden sports, forbidden travel, forbidden smoke, forbidden games, forbidden toys, forbidden professions, forbidden knowledge, forbidden speeds, forbidden skills, forbidden medicine, forbidden risk, forbidden thoughts, forbidden fantasies, forbidden privacy, and even forbidden colors.

If anything has made someone not willing to do what they were told because something was more important to them, the people to whom the only passion is a death grip on other people’s throats have tried to outlaw, control, or at least tax it. The passion for power over others is one I will not be defending. Nor will I be defending passions which depend on molesting or exploiting the innocent and the powerless.

But for those pleasures which make life beautiful and worth living, whatever they are, someone wants to forbid it. Megalomaniacs are a jealous lot. They want no competition. They want no gods before them. They want all attention on them.

As Groucho Marx sang as Rufus T. Firefly in the 1932 movie Duck Soup, “If any form of pleasure is exhibited, report to me and it will be prohibited! I’ll put my foot down. So shall it be! This is the land of the free!”

Thomas Jefferson wrote in the Declaration of Independence that “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

But what Jefferson didn’t have the space to explain in his wartime requirement for eloquence and brevity was that Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness is a diagram of necessity shaped as a pyramid. Life is at the base of that pyramid and Happiness is at the apex.

Without Life there can be no Liberty.

Without Liberty there can be no Happiness.

Life and Liberty are the rainbow. Happiness is the pot of gold at the rainbow’s end.


Next in Unchaining the Human Heart — A Revolutionary Manifesto is Chapter II: Romeo and Juliet

Unchaining the Human Heart — A Revolutionary Manifesto is
Copyright © 2010 The J. Neil Schulman Living Trust. All rights reserved.

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