• SumoMe

Pin-ups for Ron Paul, a group of women who support Ron Paul's campaign, pose for the calendar cover photo.

Pin-ups for Ron Paul is a group of women who sell calendars to support Ron Paul’s campaign. The photos consist of various visual puns, such as a woman with a large bar of chocolate with the word ‘government’ etched in it, demonstrating her support of “taking a bite out of big government.”

Another photo features a women with luggage and a “TSA gorilla” standing behind her, paired with a Paul quote encouraging Bivens actions against TSA officials.

At first, I thought this was a joke. It reminded me of the “Hot for Obama” girl that became briefly popular during the last election. However, these pin-ups for Ron Paul women appear to have more organization and the endorsement of Paul, rather than a few catchy songs.

There’s two ways to look at this situation: either this is a group of women drumming up financial and social support for their chosen candidate in a creative way, or this insults the presidential office by reducing one of the most sacred rituals in American democracy to objectification of women. In good law student (or perhaps schizophrenic) fashion I will create both sides of this argument, as well as a rebuttal to each.

1. This is a creative way for women to garner support for their candidate of choice.

Presidential candidates always need money for their campaign. How else are they going to afford those expensive commercials, a payroll, and all that traveling? As such, creative ways to raise money can always come in handy. Selling bumper stickers and t-shirts is so bland that few are likely to indulge. This group of women found a way to raise money for Ron Paul in a fun and unique way that provokes donations more than a “Ron Paul 2012″ shirt would.

Additionally, these women have all the right to produce and sell this magazine under the First Amendment. Denying this right does more to undermine the political process than any negative impact the magazine itself could foster. The women are in a position to make their voices heard, and they have the right to express their views in any lawful manner. In fact, political speech is strongly encouraged in society, and banning or condemning this magazine does nothing more than take valid political opinions out of the commerce of ideas for no other reason than they were expressed in a manner in which some people might disapprove. That argument is hostile to political debate and the Constitution.

Photo: CAMERON NEHRER.

Rebuttal: While it remains true that fundraising must extend beyond bumper stickers and t-shirts, it need not extend this far. Calendars are a perfectly legitimate way to raise money. However, calendars with pin-up models crosses the line from validity to absurdity. There is no justifiable reason for the gratuitous partial nudity involved, and this aspect of the calendar in fact detracts from the valid points the women make. The calendar in itself is not harmful to the political process, but the manner in which it is executed makes a mockery of political debate and of Ron Paul’s campaign more generally.

Additionally, just because these women have the right to express themselves in this manner does not make it the proper method of doing so. There are (in theory) infinite ways to express these political messages, and while they all might be Constitutionally-protected, they are not all socially useful. The calendar is scandalous for the sole purpose of pointing attention to the calendar and hopefully selling more copies. Using this marketing ploy in a serious political discussion is disingenuous to the extreme importance of selecting a leader for this country.

2. This cheapens the office of the presidency as a whole.

We should not support the reduction of the presidential election process to the level of pedestrian interests such as pin-up models. Not only does this cheapen the sanctity of the office of the presidency, it suggests to the world that Americans do not take this election seriously.

Appealing to the prurient interests of society has never proven an effective medium for political or social debate. Doing so not only detracts from Ron Paul’s message (which may end up hurting the cause) but it distracts voters away from political debate and attracts them to irrelevant matters such as scantily-clad women expressing political opinions that would have the same effect if they weren’t pin-up models.

Not only does this calendar insult the integrity of the presidency, it distracts voters from focusing on the issues and instead shifts the focus to prurient interests.

Rebuttal: This argument completely ignores one of the more dominant features of the photos on the calendar: the text. In fact, the text is so prominent that many of the photos are half-dedicated to text. When viewing the text alone, the words hardly appeal to pedestrian interests. Inversely, when viewing the images alone, many of them make political statements by themselves–e.g. a girl laying on a “Don’t Tread on Me” flag with a toy gun. Both the text and the images convey political messages in the same manner that many political cartoons convey messages in crude or exaggerated drawings that grab a viewer’s attention.

Additionally, to suggest that voters only see the women and completely ignore the political messages is more insulting to American voters than this calendar. By analogy, this suggestion implies that voters view political cartoons as actual depictions of actual events. This is absurd and has no basis in historical political rhetoric.

Further, a fundraiser hardly cheapens the office of the presidency any more than Nixon’s watergate or Clinton’s impeachment. I find it hard to believe that someone who isn’t the president can leave a lasting negative impression on the perception of the office of the presidency.

Lastly, it worth considering the fact that many of the people who buy this calendar already support Ron Paul. I find it highly unlikely that someone supporting another candidate would buy this magazine simply because of the virtue of it containing pin-up models. As such, any negative effects on Ron Paul’s campaign are likely negligible if any, and this enterprise can provide nothing but benefit to the Ron Paul candidacy–precisely the goal of the group.

Enough arguing with myself; what arguments can you make, and what would your opponent say?  Speak your mind in the comments below.