On the idea that you can promote social change through shocking behavior, the analogy to homosexuality is probably a bit overwrought, so I’ll put it in a different context. If there was a proposal to close down a sex shop in some given town, and a local S&M club took exception to this, and showed up at the meeting in full blown leather, with the women on a leash and with whips in their hand, while one of their spokesman got up to speak against the ordinance to close the sex shop, would you consider that to be just as effective than if they had all shown up in business suits? Would it change anything if you pointed out they go around in full leather all the time, and it’s their right?
I agree it’s their right, and they can’t, and shouldn’t be arrested for it. But people will spend more time listening and considering to what they have to say if they are dressed in business suits. The media isn’t going to be distracted by the spectacle, and you’re message isn’t going to get muddled and confused. It also definitely wouldn’t help if the town council decided maybe they’ll let the sex shop stay open, but we might want to look into that leather shop down the street too.
People have similar attitudes toward S&M as they do toward guns. Some people are unabashedly in favor of it, or practice it. Some people think it’s weird, but accept it. Others aren’t sure what they think, and might vague support sexual freedom, but aren’t sure about S&M, and still others are just downright offended or put off by it. You don’t want to piss off the middle two groups, and don’t want to give ammunition to the latter group to use to make arguments against sexual freedom.
The sexual freedom argument is probably going to keep the sex shop open, but S&M turns some people off if they think that’s what sexual freedom is going to mean. If you want to make an argument for social change through shock therapy, you can do so, it just seems like a weak case to me.