Monday, February 20, 2012

Reflections on Presidents Day about the words of Abraham Lincoln

"O Captain! my Captain!"
"... for you the flag is flung ..."
When Walt Whitman wrote his tribute to Abraham Lincoln, so today's media inform us, the United States were still far from reunited and the population, both north and south, was far from unanimous in praise for its fallen leader.
Almost a century and a half later, it's hard to think of another person in the political sphere at least who is so revered.
One may well conclude that it is how Lincoln expressed himself that made the difference. The addresses he wrote have become part of the lexicon of democracy.
At a time when the written word is challenged by rapid changes in technology and public taste, it is heartening, to this writer at least, that something so basic as words on paper (or electronic screen) can have such profound and enduring resonance.
In ways that Lincoln probably could never have imagined, and perhaps would not even have condoned, the written word remains in the vanguard of a continuing campaign to extend the frontiers of liberty.
The content of this website focuses on consenting adults, and that to borrow a phrase from Lincoln is altogether fitting and proper.
But one hopes this genre contributes too in some modest way to a wider struggle for expression.   
As long as there are places where females are forcibly kept illiterate and deprived of the physical capacity for sexual pleasure, as long as people are unable to make legitimate lifestyle decisions about their sexual roles, as long as people feel constrained from exploring their sexuality through creative arts, Lincoln's vision of a new birth of freedom will continue to find worthy applications.     

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