“If the First Amendment will protect a scumbag like me, then it will protect all of you.”
When the flamboyant American Larry Flint uttered those words in 1988 as publisher of the Hustler magazine, he never thought his words would be used by The Freedom Forum to promote Freedom of Speech as guaranteed in the First Amendment of the US Constitution. Flint was hated across America by those who felt girly Hustler and Penthouse magazines had no place on bookshelves or coffee tables. But Flint did drive home the point that laws should protect everyone equally, as under the First Amendment: “Congress shall make no law abridging the freedom of speech, or the press . . .”
Same with Rick Wayne here. He’s hated (to the bone) by those (mainly women of cloth and cross) who feel his lifelong cataloguing of sensuous photos of young local women (and young men too!) is a mortal sin crying to heaven for vengeance. Nothing said or written, done or posted over the decades has in any way stopped his weekly centrefolds. Unlike Flint, Rick won’t even argue that he isn’t breaking any law – or that every pictured person consented. All he’ll do, perhaps, is quote actress Colleen Dewhurst’s brief words back in 1986 and say, “An artist knows better than any man that one man’s obscenity is another man’s delight.”
Few will know that today’s Star Publisher’s introduction to his saucy sensation could have started long before they were born (while living in England a million years ago), way back when the English tabloids daily published a photo of a bare-breasted young English girl (preferably white but in black-and-white) on page 3 (the first page you see when you open any newspaper). Meant to attract more men to buy the papers, tabloid circulations increased – even though most of the men who bought the papers for that titillating purpose never read anything else than the pictured lady’s name and where she was from.
I watch and listen every week and see and hear mainly feline purists purr, only after watching, and only after being seen watching. And I laugh.
Those who continue to wish Rick Wayne and his girly photos away should just give up and realize he simply won’t disappear. He’s been doing what he’s doing for as long I have been doing what I’m doing. We both like what we do, even though we do it quite differently. But we also both understand why others largely don’t understand the likes of us.
For four decades the Star Publisher has chosen when to exercise his right to be a journalist or a publisher. Most times he’ll tell you, “I’m not a journalist; I’m a publisher who chooses to write.” Then, when necessary (as in his recent choice to extract a profound apology from a local TV station for airing a political advertisement he says called him a liar), Rick will also tell you he also exercises his right, “as a journalist”, to decide, when needs be, what amount of information he will release about any subject: how, when and where.
Many of his/our colleagues are not convinced that Rick has in any way explained himself out of their criticism that “Rick, of all people!” chose to hammer Choice TV for saying something about him he didn’t like. Rather than tell him to his face (or even through the hoarse chat-room posts half-heartedly sounding like they want to disagree), his friendly but scared-stiff critics would simply bow out and say, “Me? I eh getting involve in dat!”
Rick Wayne is well placed to understand (and show) what journalist A.J. Liebling meant when he said in 1960: “Freedom of the press is guaranteed only to those who own one.”
Or he may choose instead to identify what the cartoonist Scott Adams said 37 years later in 1997: “If you want to be at the top of the criticism food chain, then become a publisher or an editor. In those jobs, you will be in a position to criticize not only the people who do real work, but also the people who criticize those people. It simply doesn’t get any better than that.”
Last Thursday’s Talk show was vintage Rick. His use of his right to interpret and define others’ words; demonstrating he always has well-placed contacts; repeating select slices of his selected versions of Kenny Anthony’s perceived legal ‘Lapses and Infelicities’; condemning Facebook as a pit latrine for mindless scribblers; revealing he actually wants the IMPACS report to end up in court sooner rather than later; calling on wannabe PM Allen Chastanet to promise to institute a Right of Recall that he will also be subject to – all that, and more (including his loudly-blared challenge to the prime minister to dare to appear before Talk City) is nothing new.
But it should all inform (or remind) the newly-fanged wannabe lion cubs that, just like Bruce Wayne will always be the Lion King of Gotham City, Rick Wayne will always be their solely beloved Batman of Talk City and none (not one!) will dare summon the testicular fortitude to tell him what they say behind his back on how they really feel about him.
While his churchy critics continue to wish Rick (and his photos) away, and many in Talk City continue basking in Tropical Babel with nary a word and nary a nurtured thought, the sage in the bard continues to reflect what journalism educator Mitchell Stephens meant when he said, way back in 1996: “It is not difficult to conclude, after studying the history of news, that a certain amount of sensationalism is inherent in news and that an interest in violence and sex is probably inherent in human nature.”
Rick Wayne is of the nature of writer and publisher who holds, like journalist and author Carl Bernstein (of Watergate fame): “We have a culture that exalts to some extent the weird, the coarse, the stupid, the gossip . . . The press is a reflection of that culture and exploits it.”
The writer in Rick will also tell you he lives what the late CBS News Anchor Dan Rather described when he said, back in 1997: “We aim to separate the brass tacks from the bull shine. Now, if the bull shine is really interesting, then we’re going to give you some of that too.”
Simply put, the Star Publisher, who always chooses when to be a journalist, is good enough at our trade to spit in your eye and call it rain – even while advising you to beware of it. He can easily (whenever he chooses) dump a dumpster filled to the brim with today’s version of the legendary Shit-boat’s famed and fuming cargo through adequate dosages of fulsome praise on Talk City – and in such a nice way that some of the discerning, listening citizens will actually feel glad scooping it by the shovel.
Just believe me: give Rick the impression that it’s only ‘kaka kalbas’ in your head and he’ll (gladly) give you as much of a deserved serving of ‘coma caca’ as he will have duly prescribed as being necessary to sufficiently fill the calabash between your shoulders, no matter how big!
And, dammit, who will you blame? Him? Me? Us? Methinks not . . .
Earl Bousquet is a writer and a commentator and the Fraternal Relations Officer of the Saint Lucia Labour Party.