Friday, August 24, 2012

Women, Free speech, American History


Today I am thinking of the old one-liner, "What came first the chicken or the egg?" A joke I, myself do not understand. I have to admit I have always been confused by this joke. Although, I am giggling just a little inside as a think about the complexity of a few old articles I have read recently.

Okay, are you all ready for this: when I googled the history of Farmington Missouri I started with Wikipedia. I know, right? Boring. However, not as boring as one might think. I started looking up some other links when I stumbled upon some literary history.

Interesting as this may be to some and as embarrassing as this may be to others, I am writing about this anyway. Do you know why I am writing about this? Well, I will tell you why I am writing BECAUSE OF THE FREEDOM OF SPEECH. 

We have the luxury of freedom of speech today not only because of our founding fathers but also because of a few radical individuals who weren't embarrassed to stand up for the right of an individual to read, write, and express themselves for not only the right of artistry but also for proper exchange of information.

There is a little mention of Herbert Asbury and H.L. Mencken along with the magazine The American Mercury. The magazine first caused controversy with a little article called... Ahem... I do not remember the name of the article however there was something about a publication called UP with Methodism. I cannot say I have read UP with Methodism although I do believe the point was to expose some things.

Anyway, Herbert Asbury wrote a controversial article, which prompted H.L. Mencken's The American Mercury to become very popular. In my research, I also found where free speech laws where made because there where things written about church, women, and the possibility of women who may have been promiscuous. Now, I am more than sure if this original article was dug up and read along with some of the court case documents where all of these officials had demanded to know the names of the women who had been described in the literary publication... then there might be someone in Farmington who may have known and/or been related to this famous Ms. Hatrack... ooopps... I think I let the name out...

What those people who may be embarrassed have never taken the time to think about is just why this article was written the first place. I also happen to have come across another article called "Up with the Chickens" -- Chores written by UP Hedrick. The article is one of many in a lovely collection of early American Literary stories depicting life on farms, social gatherings, baseball, football, holidays and celebrations.
I'll give you a link up to some of those stories here. Here is a little something too about UP Hedrick's "The Land of the Crooked Tree". If anyone is interested they may do the research themselves.

Okay, back to what I was saying about free speech. "What came first the chicken or the egg?" If not for Ms. Hatrack whom I admire for her tenacity, there might not be the freedoms we enjoy today. Without Herbert Asbury or H.L. Mencken or The American Mercury where would we be?
I am thinking life as we know it would be quite boring. 

Who know when "UP with the Chicken's" --Chores was written?" I do not know. I am not sure anyone knows. However, I cannot help wondering, and I most assuredly believe "Hatrack" had to have come after Hedrick's chicken story. Why do I believe this, because of the nature of the article written. 

When I first read "Up with the Chicken's" I had a little laugh. The article seems a little of a sexual nature when the author is describing the chore of churning butter. However, while the language used is sexual in nature I am sure beyond any measure of doubt there isn't anything under the words other than the description of the joy which came from a beloved family chore. A farm chore. The chore of churning butter. Because things like butter and sugar where used sparingly. Early American farm life did not permit the wastefulness as we know today. Therefore the joy of churning butter was tasteful to say the very least. Tasteful as to the urge to lick one's fingers was almost unavoidable as the author of the article describes.

I have to take the time to consider with the mail system of the time and there not being a date on the article I read that maybe just maybe when there was a little uproar about the article "UP with the Chicken's" -- Chores that Asbury and Mencken got together (maybe not even this particular article but a similar one like this). Maybe, just maybe, there was a discussion somewhere where someone had some good sense. Hey, there needs to be some freedom of speech laws established. We need to set an example. Maybe, you think? Maybe that is what happened... I'd like to think there was someone looking out for artistic integrity from the very beginning and maybe just maybe this famous Ms. Hatrack wasn't embarrassed to lend her name. "What came first the chicken or the egg?" The idea of free speech, no matter how dumb I maybe, I owe my freedom of speech to this Ms. Hatrack, whomever she may have been. 


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