Technically, people do have the legal right to say horrible, disgusting things. What they do not have is the right to get paid to say hateful, loathsome things. No-one is attacking Chuck Knipp/Shirley Q. Liquor’s right to say blatantly racist things. We’re just saying it’s not okay to pay him to do so.
Aside from the Shirley Q. Liquor act, which is obviously indefensible, I think it’s worth talking about whether we have a right to do things that we know will offend some people, even if those people aren’t directly involved. Let’s not kid ourselves, all kinky activities are offensive to someone. Race play is extremely difficult for some (many? I’m trying to avoid generalizing too much because I’m not a person of colour) people of colour to watch. A punching scene with a male dominant and female submissive might be just as painful for a female survivor of domestic abuse to watch. Age play could be traumatic for incest survivors to watch. Even a simple needle scene could traumatize someone with a severe needle phobia.
Given that some people have extremely good reasons to object to certain kinds of play, how can we get our kinky needs met without being assholes? I think a huge part of that is about context and consent.
A scene is sort of a bubble – in that context, nothing that happens necessarily tells you anything about how the players treat people in their daily lives. A scene also doesn’t have much of anything to do with anyone outside of that particular scene. A woman enjoying a takedown scene has nothing to do with my horror at the idea of being abducted. That’s my discomfort to manage. Because it’s just a scene, I can remind myself that everyone involved consented. By walking into a play party, I’ve also consented to being exposed to things that might offend or upset me. If I want to be sure I won’t be upset, I stay home.
Another important part of the context of a play party is that organizing a play party doesn’t necessarily imply approval of the play that happens during the party. Most parties that I know of have fairly simple rules to do with liability, safety, and ease of cleanup. Within those rules, you can do pretty much whatever you want. The organizers may not love your scene, but if you’re not breaking any rules they’re very unlikely to stop you from having it. Paying a performer, on the other hand, implies approval of what they have to say. While you can avoid being exposed to play that upsets you by skipping a party or workshop, there’s no way to avoid the fact that you now know the people who run your local leather bar think blatant racism is fine and dandy.
People having scenes that they know are particularly likely to be difficult for others to watch do have a responsibility to at least try to be courteous. Edgeplay scenes, for example, don’t need to be done at the front edge of the play floor. Deliberately trying to shock people who are just trying to relax and catch up with their friends is pathetic and douchebaggy. Particularly loud scenes should probably be done either very early in the evening before most people show up (at least out here, practically no one shows up on time. Local parties tend to be pretty dead for the first hour or so) or toward the end of the night to give other people a chance to play without being rattled by constant screaming.
I do think people who want to have a loud or edgy scene have a right to get their kink on in the way that makes them happy. They even have a right to do those things at parties. Honestly, where else can you have a scene that involves a lot of screaming without having a thoroughly awkward conversation with the police?
Even if I’m offended by certain kinds of play, I still think it’s better to get them out in the open. I may not enjoy watching a particular scene, but someone who’s struggling to accept their desires might really be helped by seeing that other people enjoy the same kink. Just, you know, try not to be an asshole about it.