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FREE SPEECH – AS LONG AS YOU SAY WHAT THEY WANT YOU TO

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The Reichstag — I mean, the House — overwhelmingly passed higher fines for radio and television “indecency” the other day. This was a failure for democracy on the highest levels… and the resounding nature of the vote (391-22) indicated that this isn’t a Republican or Democratic issue. It’s an issue of our so-called leaders laying down for the religious right. There are apparently only 22 members of the US House with any sort of spine or principle.

My issues with this are myriad — too many to even begin to go into. I’m furious that a renegade band of evangelicals is bascially dictating to us what the rest of us can watch, hear or see. Who decides what is “indecent?” The Supreme Court only ruled on the seven dirty words – beyond that, there’s nothing from the Supreme Court as who what constitutes indecency. And what bothers me most is that we’ve handed over our collective right to make our own judgement to these southern-fried bible-thumpers who find Janet Jackson’s breast or Howard Stern’s interviews with porn stars “indecent.”

But you know what? I find televangelists who stage fake “healings” (like Benny Hinn does) indecent. And religious “leaders” like Oral Roberts who tell old ladies and poor people that God will call him home unless they give him $8 million by a specific date… I find that indecent.

I find the airing of the 700 Club (on which Pat Robertson and his team of loonies and liars go about passing off whatever libel and slander they wish to about Democrats, claiming to have spoken to God about election results and the paths of hurricanes, and endorsing discrimination against gays, as well as hatred of liberals or anyone who thinks differently than they do) to be indecent. I find Jerry Falwell’s show, in which he had the audacity to say that America suffered 9/11 as punishment from God for tolerating gays, abortion rights, and liberal thought, to be indecent.

So how about increasing the fines on that programming? What? No? You only want fines for programming that the religious right finds indecent? A ha… now we’re getting to the truth of it. This isn’t about indecency so much… it’s about the squelching of thought or expression that the religious right does not find acceptable. And you can bet that once they’ve been given that toe in the door of your freedoms, they will kick it in until they’re all the way inside.

Whatever happened to, “change the channel?” Moreover, whatever happened to paying attention to what your kids are watching on television – or even more importantly, whatever happened to actual parenting, as opposed to just plopping little Jacob and Hannah in front of the television as a surrogate?

“I am tired of hearing parents tell me how they have to cover their children’s ears,” Rep. Joseph Pitts, R-Pa., said during debate on the measure.

Yeah well, Pittsy, if those parents were doing their job instead of just using TV as a babysitter, maybe they’d have to worry about it less. Raise your own kids instead of letting television do it for you, and maybe this is less of a problem. I find it highly ironic that the group who screams the loudest about “family values” and the importance of family is the group that most stubbornly refuses to accept the most basic of all family responsibilities: active parenting.

But what infuriates me most isn’t that the Christian right made this effort; after all, it’s what they do. Religious zealots in this country have opposed freedom of all speech but their own since back in the days of the Puritans, through the Salem Witch Trials, and on up through American history. What is so maddening this time is how meekly our politicians rolled over and let them do it. Where were the fiery speeches in defense of free speech? Where was the principled opposition to censorship – the most un-American concept going? Where were the defenders of liberty?

I guess we haven’t elected any lately. I guess 10% of the US population gets to dictate to the rest of us what is acceptable. Your Congress… your House of Representatives has just declared that some bible bashing preachers and housewives in Alabama somewhere get to tell you what is okay for you to watch, hear and see. Telling you what is okay to think isn’t far behind. That’s what they want. And unless you call on your Senator to stand up for your rights instead of caving to the whims of censoring zealots, that’s what’s next.

If you don’t like what’s on, turn the damn channel. But how dare you try to tell me what’s acceptable for me to be entertained by?!

McCarthyism is back, friends. They just call it “decency” this time.

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About The Chronic Curmudgeon

  • http://www.tekwh0re.net Ms. Tek

    LOL…

    Relax… haven’t you heard… You aren’t supposed to actually spend time raising the kids once you pop them out. That is what the TV, and babysitters are for. One you have them, you can run back to your “career” and your “wine tastings and cocktail parties”.

    Silly wabbit.

  • Eric Olsen

    Christopher, I understand your concern and frustration but I disagree with your conclusions on several levels: the religious right is NOT driving this. What is driving this is a very broad consensus across the populace and across political boundaries, that things have gone too far on the limited public airwaves (see more here). This is far more than 10% of the population saying that what goes on on the radio and broadcast TV makes them uncomfortable, does not reflect their “standards,” and is particularly unacceptable when children are exposed to it. That is the significance of the Janet Jackson affair: it was the catalyst for an expression of discontent and outrage that had been building for some time.

    All Congress did was increase the fines for breaking the rules, they didn’t change the rules, which if you read them are hardly prudish or particularly restrictive.

    You may have a point that media consolidation has allowed a company like Clear Channel, which does seem to be responding with political intent in the “zero tolerance” policy, currying favor with the current (but it could be any) administration, but Howard Stern’s whole line about the focus on him being based upon his political views is just self-serving horseshit. The government hasn’t done ANYTHING new to him, it was Clear Channel who shut him down (in only the six markets where they carried him), and the government has been concerned with his flaunting of the rules for years, most especially during the Clinton administration.

    The rules are there, have been there, the majority of the public agrees with those rules and wants to see them enforced. That’s all this is about.

  • http://www.morethings.com/log Al Barger

    So Christopher, you’re arguing that there should be NO legal standards WHATEVER for public expression? If the local porno shop wants to put up a big billboard in front of their store with pictures of hardcore guy on guy action, I’d be just a prude homophobe uptight right wing shill to object?

  • Shark

    They have the right and responsibility to regulate content on the PUBLIC airwaves. That issue was decided decades ago.

    A different issue: Our culture is saturated with ‘indecency’ and ‘obscentities’. It’s a matter of aesthetics, and most Americans have none.

    And I believe Tek might change her tune if/when she has a child; Sex and garbage are ubiquitous in this culture. It’s just about everywhere you look. It’s not as simple as a few years ago; you can’t just ‘turn off the TV’ and withhold the flood of shit from your child’s view.

    In today’s culture, if you want to protect your child from exposure to the massive amount of despicable garbage coming at them, you’d have to raise them in a locked closet, which is not a good solution either.

    But again, the answer is not legislative; it’s cultural. We consciously decide to stop sliding further toward the barbarian end of the scale… and see if we can’t resurrect the value of beauty.

    But I’m not holding my breath.

  • http://dirtgrain.com/weblog Dirtgrain

    Robert Anton Wilson writes in How George Carlin Made Legal History:

      For instance, here in the United States—an allegedly secular Democracy with an “iron wall” of separation between Church and State written into its Constitution–the Federal Communications Commission has a list of Seven Forbidden Words which nobody may speak on the radio or television. Any attempt to find out why these words remain Tabu leads into an epistemological fog, a morass of medieval metaphysics, in which concepts melt like Salvador Dali’s clocks and ideas become as slippery as a boat deck in bad weather.
      One cannot dismiss this mystery as trivial. When comedian George Carlin made a record (“Occupation: Foole”) discussing, among other things, “The seven words you can never say on television,” WBAI radio (New York) played the record, and received a fine so heavy that, although the incident occurred in 1973, WBAI, a small listener-sponsored station, recently announced (1990) that they have not yet paid all their legal costs in fighting the case, which went all the way to the Supreme Court. The Eight Wise Men (and One Wise Woman) thereon upheld the Federal Communications Commission.
      The highest court in the land has actually ruled on what comedians may and may not joke about. George Carlin has become something more than a comedian. He now has the status of a Legal Precedent. You will pay a heavy fine, in the U.S. today, if you speak any of the Seven Forbidden Words on radio or television–shit, piss, fuck, cunt, cocksucker, motherfucker and tits.
      The words have been forbidden, “our” Government says, because they “are” “indecent”. Why “are” they “indecent”? Because a certain percentage of people who might turn on the radio or TV experience them as “indecent”.
      Why do sombunall people experience these words as “indecent”? Because he words “are” “dirty” or “vulgar”.
      Why “are” these words “dirty” and “vulgar” when other words, denoting the same objects or events, “are” not “dirty” or “vulgar”? Why, specifically, can a radio station be fined if a psychologist on a talk show says “He was so angry he wouldn’t fuck her anymore” but not fined at all if the psychologist says “He was so angry he stopped having sexual intercourse with her”?
      As Mr. Carlin pointed out in the comedy routine which led the Supreme Court to perform their even more remarkable comedy routine, fucking seems one of the most common topics on television, even though nobody uses the word. To paraphrase Mr. Carlin, many guests on the Merv Griffin and Donahue shows have written books on how to fuck or who to fuck or how to fuck better, and nobody objects as long as they say “sexual intercourse” instead of “fucking.” And, of course, as Carlin goes on, the main topics on soap operas, day after day, consist of who has fucked whom, will she fuck him, will he fuck somebody else, have they fucked yet, who’s getting fucked now, etc.
      Some say “fuck” “is” “dirty” and “sexual intercourse” isn’t because “fuck” comes from the Anglo-Saxon and “sexual inter course” comes from the Latin. But then we must ask: how did Anglo-Saxon get to be “dirty” and why does Latin remain “clean”?
      Well, others tell us, “fuck” represents lower-class speech and “sexual intercourse” represents middle-and-upper class speech. This does not happen to accord with brute fact, statistically: I have heard the word “fuck” in the daily (non-radio) conversation of professors, politicians, business persons, poets, movie stars, doctors, lawyers, police persons and most of the population of sombunall classes and castes, except a few religious conservatives.
      And, even if “fuck” did occur exclusively in lower-class speech, we do not know, and can hardly explain, why it has been subject to a huge and bodacious fine when such other lower-class locutions as “ain’t”, “fridge” (for refrigerator), “gonna” and “whyncha” (why don’t you) have not fallen under similar sanction. Nor have we yet seen a ban on the distinctly lower class “Jeet?” “Naw—Jew?” (Did you eat? No, did you?)
      The fact that some enclaves of religious conservatives do not use the word “fuck” (or are embarrassed if they get caught using it) seems to provide the only clue to this mystery. The Federal Communications Commission, it seems, bases its policy upon persons who believe, or for political reasons wish to seem to believe, that the rather paranoid “God” of the conservative religions has His own list of Seven Forbidden Words and will become quite irate if the official Tabu list of our government does not match His list. Since that particular Deity has a reputation for blowing a few cities to hell whenever he feels annoyed, the F.C.C. may, in the back of their heads, think they will prevent further earthquakes by maintaining the Tabu on the Seven Unspeakable Words.
      The Wall of Separation between Church and State, like many other pious pronouncements in our Constitution, does not correspond with the way our government actually functions. In short, the Seven Forbidden Words remain forbidden because pronouncing them aloud might agitate some Stone Age deity or other, and we still live in the same web of Tabu that controls other primitive peoples on this boondocks planet.
      Some light seems about to dawn in the semantic murk…but let us press further and ask why the conservative’s Stone Age “God” objects to “fuck” and not to “sexualintercourse” or such synonyms as “coitus”, “copulation”, “sexual congress”, “sexual union”, “love-making”, etc.? Should we believe this “God” has a violent prejudice against words which, in reputation if not in reality, seem to reflect lower-class culture? Does this “God” dislike poor people as much as Ronald Reagan did?
      Perhaps the reader will appreciate the immensity of this mystery more fully if I ask a related question:
      If the word “fuck” “is” obscene or “dirty”, why isn’t the word “duck” 75% “dirty”?
      Or, similarly:
      If the word “cunt” “is” unacceptable to the conservative’s “God”, why does the word “punt” not receive a 75% unacceptability rating? Why do we not see it spelled “p—” in the daily press?
      To quote the admirable George Carlin one more time, “Such logic! Such law!”

    I don’t have a problem with society collectively deciding what is acceptable and what isn’t acceptable–so long as it makes sense and so long as it’s not a corruption of the separation of church and state. The taboo status associated with swear words is arbitrary. One could just as easily apply taboo status to the word, “the,” because it gets used so often in phrases like, “the dickhead,” “the asswipe,” etc.

    How do swear words harm or corrupt children? I learned words such as fuck, shit, piss and ass when I was in first grade. They didn’t mean anything to me. I knew how to say them, and I knew they were bad–that’s it. Don’t we all learn these words at an early age? Is it some key phase in our development that we have to have forbidden yet tempting words in our vocabularies–that we have to wait until a certain age and certain social situations when we can utter these words? Please explain.

  • http://dirtgrain.com/weblog Dirtgrain
  • http://www.morethings.com/log Al Barger

    Now here Shark, we seem to be very much on the same page:

    the answer is not legislative; it’s cultural. We consciously decide to stop sliding further toward the barbarian end of the scale… and see if we can’t resurrect the value of beauty.

    I would take that to mean that we should be trying to point out the better to people, and rely more on gentle persuasion and perhaps a bit of private cajoling rather than running to the heavy hand of government with every complaint.

    Thing is, nearly any attempt at private persuasion or shaming get greeted with great cries of derision. You’re a censor, or just a right wing jerk who wants to impose your white male oppressor Catholic God on the poor downtrodden oppressed people who just want to express themselves.

    Really Shark, how could you?

  • http://dirtgrain.com/weblog Dirtgrain

    It’s corporate culture. We, as individuals, are not having the same impact on our culture anymore. Yes we consume, but it is the corporations that manipulate us to consume this or that. Corporations are dictating and creating our culture based on machine-like calculations. The human element seems to be disappearing. So, we have thongs marketed to ten-year olds, music performers who lip sync and are more about image than quality (I find Britney Spears to be more disgusting than Luther Campbell), so many movies that are about drug dealers and cops killing each other, and so on. Sorry to rant again, but we need to become aware of the corporate influence on our culture. Is it taking us where we want to go?

  • Debbie

    “It’s corporate culture. We, as individuals, are not having the same impact on our culture anymore. Yes we consume, but it is the corporations that manipulate us to consume this or that.”

    Only if you allow them to. It is the individuals collectively that can change things. If you don’t like violence in every movie that comes out of Hollywood, don’t go see movies and don’t rent or buy them.

    “Corporations are dictating and creating our culture based on machine-like calculations.”

    They are creating this crap because there are the ignorant masses out there that buy it.

    “So, we have thongs marketed to ten-year olds, music performers who lip sync and are more about image than quality (I find Britney Spears to be more disgusting than Luther Campbell), so many movies that are about drug dealers and cops killing each other, and so on.”

    It is truly sad that parents would ever even consider buying ‘slut-wear’ for 10 year old little girls. But buy it they do, and then they want to act all shocked when their little darling gets pregnant at 14. It must be the ‘governments’ fault, they didn’t teach enough about birth control, they didn’t give out free condoms, didn’t pass out the morning after pill….

    It’s very hard to be a parent these days, it has become socially acceptable to hold no moral values at all, as long as it feels good it must be good. I feel like a Salmon swimming upstream fighting the secular world with the ‘trashy’ values they have and want to push on everyone else.

    These higher fines are a backlash from people that are tired of being force fed trashy moral values. It really upset people that such a trashy halftime show was presented to people at the super bowl. The super bowl has become the biggest sporting event in this country. Lots of kids like to watch the game. Why would people think that the type of songs they played and the sexual antics they displayed during the show would be presentable to children. Was it just to shock us? Was it just because they really didn’t see anything wrong with the show that they were presenting? That they really thought that it was an appropriate show for kids to watch? That a halftime show on a football field was an acceptable place to display that behavior?

    I would like to see that type of behavior only on after a certain time, or only on certain channels…some way of limiting it from my household.

    Personally, I’m glad that people finally woke up to realize that we are under assault from the ‘morally vapid’ buffoons in Hollywood.

    It never ceases to amaze me that Hollywood can peddle the most ridiculous crap and then turn around and receive awards for it. They make movies that glorify violence, just for the sake of higher revenues, they show lots of ‘skin’, sexual behavior, violence just for the sake of violence and yet they all want to ‘protest’ and speak out against the ‘Passion of Christ’ movie because of violence. I think that speaks volumes about their ‘agenda’. They go out of their way to condemn a religious movie, claiming it will cause anti-semitism, it is too violent, etc. But they don’t have any problem promoting a movie that defames religion or that mocks religion. The Last Temptation of Christ was to be defended, the right of an ‘Artist’ to throw feces and urine on the crucifix and call it art is to be defended and encouraged?

    That’s why they are jokingly referred to as Hollywierd, they are so far out there it’s almost a different planet.

  • sheri

    What would the polar opposite of “christian right” be? Satanic left?
    There are other religious groups, non-christian, who subscribe to a code of decency.Some may have no religious preference at all.
    I’m getting tired of moral issues being dumped at the feet of “bible-thumping christian right blah blah”. It is time to adapt a new way of thinking.

  • Shark

    So we all agree? It’s a cultural issue based on a lack of aesthetics that can only change given a refusal by the consumer to participate in the mass consumption of garbage — and #2; encouraging the development of a aesthetic approach to one’s culture.

    Okay then. Mark yer calendars. This is a BC first!

    Let’s close up shop and go fishin’.

    ~And I’ll buy the beer!

  • sheri

    One more thing.
    A whooooole lotta southerners (of the fried variety, and baked, for the more health conscious of us)spent the LORD’S day worshipping the Gods Of Nascar, on the altar of the Atlanta Motor Speedway!! Sacrificing 450 MILLION dollars into our economy. I’m gonna have to have a talk with GOD about this ;0)
    Congratulations Dale Earnhardt, Jr.

  • http://www.tekwh0re.net Ms. Tek

    I think the south and texas should just go away and form their own country.

    They’re all weirdos anyway. ;)

  • sheri

    I’m a cute one though…shall I throw fried chicken at you now? :0)

  • http://www.tekwh0re.net Ms. Tek

    Hm….

    But I do like fried chicken…

    OH THE CONFUSION!

  • Eric Olsen

    Shaun, we collectively endured your vulgar, blatant, crude, unsubstantiated anti-Semitism for some time. I told you when the line was crossed for the last time. You’re just discovering it now? No one has EVER spoken here of Arabs or Muslims the way you have consistently spoken of Jews. You appeared to be moving in a direction of somewhat greater understanding and then you reverted to the same vile shit worse than ever.

    Why should we endure the poison any longer? Besides, you’re a really bad speller.

  • http://christopherstake.blogspot.com Christopher

    First of all, Eric, thank you for getting rid of the last post… I don’t know the background on Shaun, nor do I care to, but a personal attack on the moderator for removing anti-Semitic bile just didn’t seem real germaine to this conversation.

    Now… WOO-HOO! A real, live, honest-to-god discussion of and respectful exchange of ideas on the issue! As Eric Cartman might say, “Sweeeeet.”

    Thanks, everyone, for your insight and viewpoints; I’ve appreciated them even when I haven’t agreed… thanks for making me think some more.

    Al, I would say that the difference between a porn shop billboard and television is that on TV, you’re free to change the channel. If you don’t want to watch it, don’t watch it. A billboard such as the one you describe would not give people the option of ignoring it. And if your point is that everything on the airwaves is offensive to you now and so you don’t have the option of changing channels, I respectfully and in the spirit of friendly discussion suggest that you simply turn the television off. Don’t watch it. Read books. Play with your kids. Conduct Bible studies. Do whatever you like. Again, that’s an option that people wouldn’t have with a billboard, but do have with the public airwaves.

    Eric, while I think Stern is quite self-serving and I don’t agree with his point that it’s all about quieting his political speech, I do believe he is being targeted because he is such an easy first target – one whose squelching would not generate too much backlash. Of course there won’t be a whole lot of people who argue that Stern’s juvenalia shouldn’t have some sort of restraint… but that’s just where it starts. It’s a very easy first step – and I believe it is only the first step the Decency Crusaders have in mind. I don’t believe for one moment that Stern would be their only target. I similarly don’t believe that the other crusades for public decency would be focused on such blatant boundary-pushers/borderline cases as Stern. I’m pretty sure that other, less cut and dried targets would be next… once given an inch, a mile would be next.

    (For those conservatives here who are about to disagree, ask yourself why the NRA and many gun enthusiasts won’t accept a ban on cop-killer bullets or assault rifles… it’s the same concept: you feel that once the opposition gets a foothold, even on something that seems like common sense, they will not be satisfied unless & until they’ve gone well beyond common sense and taken ALL guns. Same point here – the decency brigades will start with Stern and the easy targets, but won’t be satisfied until the public airwaves are stripped of everything they find objectionable.)

    CBS announced today that they’re going to put a 10 second delay on the NCAA finals. (http://sports-att.espn.go.com/ncb/ncaatourney04/news/story?id=1760236) What possible decency is that upholding? Or, is it just another case of that network caving in to the pressure of a few loud activists — the same ones who got a Reagan biopic off the air without even seeing it because they believed that the script wasn’t reverential enough?

    (By the way, if everyone’s so fed up with the “indecency” that’s so prevalent, then why does pushing the envelope like that virtually guarantee a boost in ratings? If people were really that sick of these easy targets, wouldn’t ratings crash through the floor as people turned away in droves? Hmm… but I digress.)

    Okay, Sheri and those others who (perhaps rightly) took me to task for laying this issue at the feet of religious southerners… saying that there are plenty of people of no religious affiliation who support “decency.” Okay, point taken… but no one addressed my question of Who Gets To Decide What Is Decent? There are a lot of things I do not find decent. Do I get to decide for you what you can watch? There are a lot of people who are interested in things I find indecent or unworthy of watching (religious programming, bloody & violent shoot-em-up movies of the Stallone/Schwarzenegger/Seagal/Van Damme variety, Fox “News”, NASCAR… just kidding)… do I and people who think like me get to make that call on your behalf?

    See, it’s easy for one to say that they’re for “decency” when they’re pretty sure that “decent” includes their own tastes. But if the shoe were on the other foot, and there was someone else deciding that your tastes don’t meet the Decency Meter, I imagine you’d be pretty upset about that – and rightfully so.

    Please don’t misunderstand. I’m not here to praise Howard Stern, Jerry Springer, Girls Gone Wild, f-bomb dropping comedians and musicians, or those that pander to the lowest common denominator. But I am here to defend them.

    I don’t like Shock “entertainment.” I find it frankly very uncreative. But I have a big problem with any “They” trying to say that it needs to be cleaned up. Don’t like it? Don’t watch. When enough people turn the channel, guess what? Networks will listen. Until that happens, I think this is all a bit of posturing — much of it by people desperate for an issue to divert attention from some serious policy failures or an agenda that most Americans won’t be comfortable with.

    But most of all, I am very uncomfortable with handing over to the government – any government, but in my case especially one led by someone whose views and beliefs are so diametrically different than my own – the power to decide for me or anyone else what is “decent” and what is not. That’s a decision that I get to make. No one else. Me. Because what’s indecent for you and what’s indecent for me may well be different… and just as I wouldn’t presume to be able to tell you what you should watch, I get very aggrevated when someone is presumptuous enough to tell me what I should/can watch.

    Like I said before, if people are really sick of this stuff, they should just stop watching. Enough of a viewership drain would make networks stand up and take notice in a hurry. Until then, I just don’t buy it.

    Anyway, my 2 cents… or looking at the length of my response, more like 20 cents. At any rate, thank you one and all for a lively, interesting and for the most part respectful discussion. Cheers!

  • Shark

    MsTek: “I think the south and texas should just go away and form their own country.”

    Um, we tried, believe me, we tried.

    Y’all just wouldn’t let us.

    Must be our music.

  • http://christopherstake.blogspot.com Christopher

    Shark,

    Not every Yankee dislikes country, nor do we all dislike Texas blues (Stevie Ray is my hero). You can keep NASCAR, but we’ll share country and Stevie Ray. How’s that? ;-)

  • http://www.foliage.com/~marks Mark Saleski

    yea…i’m from the northeast and i like country. ‘real’ country though, not this suburban guy with 5 o’clock shadow and big hat stuff.

    let’s see, what do i like about texas?….

    dallas cowboy cheerleaders

    .
    .
    .

    uh…i’ll get back to ya.

  • http://www.tekwh0re.net Ms. Tek

    YUCK @ country!

  • http://dirtgrain.com/weblog Dirtgrain

    There have been a lot of comments of this kind: “until the people decide. . . .” What is overlooked is that people are being manipulated by marketing, advertising and propaganda techniques. Coercion has become a science, and corporations are ever seeking new ways to turn the people into on and off switches (that is exactly how they see us). No, we haven’t lost free will yet. But isn’t that the ultimate goal of the marketing industry? Read some journals on marketing and advertising techniques–new studies abound. They want to be able to make you do what they want you to do–without you being aware of it. (I still can’t figure out why the hell I bought a juicer.) With the rise of corporations and corporate political power, and the advancement of the science of coercion (and propaganda), I don’t think the people will be deciding in the way some here have suggested. There has to be an organized effort to counteract the amoral impact of corporations on our culture. We have to wake people up. Adbusters, maybe.

    Yes, I truly believe this. Yes, you probably think it’s over-the-edge looniness. Yes, I will check myself into a psycho ward, just as soon as I figure out which voice in my head I am supposed to listen to. Right now, William Shatner is trying to sell me Priceline or something. Please start singing “Mr. Tambourine Man” again. Yah Chris, I better turn off the TV.

  • Shark

    The most profound realization of the early 21st century will be that the UnaBomber was right.

    And have a nice day!

  • Debbie

    Dirtgrain,

    “(I still can’t figure out why the hell I bought a juicer.)”

    It’s because you want to be in the great physical shape that good ole Jack is in at his age….. :~)

    It’s not even that I want everything censored, I just want some rules applied. Like maybe, certain channels that show the smut and violence; or certain times it can be aired.

    Never, ever, ever at a football halftime show!!!!! I don’t want it sprung on people as a surprise, it should be labeled up front so people can make the decision on whether they want to watch it. I don’t think that these are ‘over reaching’ rules, I don’t think that they trample any rights. It shouldn’t be difficult to put these in place and it won’t hamper anyone that wants to watch the ‘smut and violence’.

  • Eric Olsen

    Debbie, everything you asked for is already in place – it has only to be enforced and that is what all thestink is about now: enforcement. there haven’t been any new rules put into place regarding content, they are just upping the penalties for violations.

    I realize in theory the market should take care of this, but there are some areas where the public asks for help in being saved from itself. This is one of those areas.

  • http://www.foliage.com/~marks Mark Saleski

    my problem with this is that they’re supposedly enforcing ‘violations’ that are not clearly defined. you know, what exactly is ‘indecent’.

    howard stern may be ‘whining’, but i think he’ got a valid point here.

  • sheri

    I made a reference in an earlier comment about a friend of mine who is Jewish. This same friend, a couple of years ago, wanted to approach a group of Muslims, and try to connect with them on some sort of human level.
    I asked him if I could accompany him, and his swift answer was, “If you do, I don’t know you”. I took that as a no answer, and I wanted to know why. His reply was… “What you are wearing would be considered provocative”. He wanted them to be comfortable with him, and take him serious.
    I agree with you. Different people have different definitions of what they consider indecent. My only bone to pick was with the blame being put on the usual standby… southern people, with all the insulting descriptions that went with it :0).
    As for my view on the issue itself, it’s the exposure kids may have to it. As for that…the bottom line, to me, is the parents. They are the ones who should be regulating what their children see in the home.

  • http://christopherstake.blogspot.com Christopher

    Eric, you really don’t believe that the higher fines aren’t intended to have a “chill effect” on content, do you?

    Sure, they didn’t change rules. But by jacking the fines up ten-fold, you’re basically telling all but the biggest stations in the biggest markets that the price for airing any sort of content that runs afoul of the “powers that be” will be high enough to harm their business. Worse still, as Mark alludes to, the definition of “indecency” is not very clear beyond the seven dirty words… which gives a lot of people a lot of leeway to selectively prosecute or draw a very broad definition of indecency that covers their version of what they want on the public airwaves. The whole “this isn’t an attack on the First Amendment, because you can say anything you want… we’ll just fine you out of existence if you do” defense is among the more disingenuous I’ve heard in public discourse.

    Debbie, I agree that the SuperBowl halftime show incident, intentional or not, was inappropriate — NOT because a breast is all that big of a deal or something society must be ashamed of, but because there were lots of children watching the show, and the performers should have bore that in mind. Unfortunately, the response we’re seeing out of the sheep politicians – and frankly, out of much of the citizenry – is classic overreaction. This is like cutting off your hand because your finger itched. Sure, the itch is taken care of… but at what cost?

    My overarching issue still remains: who gets to decide what is indecent and what is not? I’m sorry, but the human body doesn’t offend me and a breast just doesn’t get me upset (though this is admittedly easy for me to say because I don’t have kids yet). I am much more bothered by violence on television than sexuality… I dare say that when I do have kids, I will be far more concerned about protecting them from violent content than sexuality.

    But should I try to remove the Super Bowl from the air because I have issue with deliberately lining up 300 pound men to slam into each other, frequently drawing blood and often injuring one another — sometimes very seriously? How about old Westerns that glorify violence while perpetuating racist stereotypes of Native Americans? Do I even have that right to make that decision for you, just because my attitudes toward what is indecent are different than yours? Or are we better left with you actively choosing what to not let your kids watch, and me actively choosing what not to let my kids watch?

    And yes, that’s going to mean that I have to pay very close attention to what my kids watch, what they get interested in, and what they see by chance as they watch TV. And it probably means I’m going to have to limit the amount of TV they can watch and the times of the day during which they can watch. But you know what? I think that’s as it should be. I guess I call that parenting. And if I’m not ready to do it — if I want to instead have some board of people in Washington DC (who take their marching orders from a small but very vocal sect of moralists) just make those decisions for me and make it safer to just toss my child in front of television — well, then I’d better think long and hard about whether I’m ready to be a parent.

    Just my opinion. Have a good day, all.

  • Eric Olsen

    I think the higher fines are there to make the sanctions have some meaning for the huge corporations that control much of the broadcast media. As it was they were slaps on the wrist of very little consequence.

  • http://www.foliage.com/~marks Mark Saleski

    as i understand it, the actual radio/tv personality can be fined directly. it’ll basically result is removing from the air any personality who has even a chance of running afoul of the fcc….which is what the more conservative elements of the country want (or at least will be happy with)

    yea! it’s 1950 again!!!! arent’ things peachy!!!!

  • http://www.filteringcraig.com Craig Lyndall

    “I think the higher fines are there to make the sanctions have some meaning for the huge corporations that control much of the broadcast media.”

    As I said in another post, the present fines were only handed out 3 times last year. And when they did hand out fines to Opie and Anthony, those guys were subsequently fired. Doesn’t this sound like a system that will work when and if it is used? I mean what else do you want to happen when these people get out of line? Fines that lead to suspension and/or firing. And the present fines accomplished this in a case with Infinity Broadcasting.

    So it is a waste of time and legislation.

  • Debbie

    Christopher,

    You brought up some good points but:

    “Sure, they didn’t change rules. But by jacking the fines up ten-fold, you’re basically telling all but the biggest stations in the biggest markets that the price for airing any sort of content that runs afoul of the “powers that be” will be high enough to harm their business.”

    Imagine, wanting them to follow existing laws, how outrageous! This wouldn’t even be an issue except that they had to push the envelope and ‘act out’ in a public forum.

    “Debbie, I agree that the SuperBowl halftime show incident, intentional or not, was inappropriate — NOT because a breast is all that big of a deal or something society must be ashamed of, but because there were lots of children watching the show, and the performers should have bore that in mind.”

    It wasn’t just a breast, it was the whole show of Justin treating her like a $2.00 whore, of rubbing himself up against her, of reaching across and ripping the ‘bodice’ off of her. If it was a medical show and showed a breast I wouldn’t have a problem with it…..get it? It is the context, it is the ‘time’ and it is the ‘place’ it was displayed. I shouldn’t have to worry about a halftime show during a football game simulating a ‘rough sex’ peep show!! PERIOD!!!!! EVER!!!!!!!

    “…and what they see by chance as they watch TV”

    That is what we are upset about, it was a halftime show at a football game…. If they had used common sense and not done it during a halftime show of a football game, then we wouldn’t be having this conversation. I don’t have HBO because of the type of shows they have, I do it on purpose because I have kids. I don’t watch a lot of TV in the evening because I have kids and I don’t want them watching the trash they have on TV these days.

    “And it probably means I’m going to have to limit the amount of TV they can watch and the times of the day during which they can watch. But you know what?”

    It won’t make a difference because they are constantly trying to encroach on all programing…..even a football game!!!! Are you starting to see the problem, yet?

    I don’t want a lot of limits on free speech either, but I don’t want it to be ‘anything goes’ either. The entertainment industry did it to themselves by constantly trying to push the envelope, trying to be just a little bit trashier than the last time, put in a little more violence, a little more sex, show a little more skin. It would be bad enough if it was limited to evening hours and during shows where you were warned about the content, but to bring it into a sporting event without warning was STUPID…..

  • Eric Olsen

    It may well be a waste of time and legislation but at least it isn’t malignant

  • http://christopherstake.blogspot.com Christopher

    Okay, Debbie… so the point about the SuperBowl halftime show is (relatively) agreed on. But no one is talking about fining Janet Jackson or the NFL or Justin Timberlake. This incident isn’t being treated as an incident – it’s being used as an entree into a much larger discussion. If this was about one incident, Jackson, Timberlake, CBS and the NFL would have been fined and it’d be over with. Unfortunately, it’s being used as a wedge into a larger agenda.

    They’re declaring war on the entire entertainment industry and bumping up fines on everyone – all acts. The chill effect is already happening; a station in LA already fired a reporter — and then realized that they’d overreatced and tried to give her her job back. (http://www.cnn.com/2004/SHOWBIZ/books/03/16/people.tsing.loh.reut/index.html)

    My point is that this has gone way beyond Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake’s performance. It’s gone beyond, it’s already costing entertainment and news personalities their jobs, and an entire industry has been warned and bullied into compliance with the undefined whims of a few. And the chill effect is only beginning. When reporters and entertainers keep getting fired or their employers keep facing ridiculous fines, no one is going to say or do anything anymore that isn’t utterly safe, boring, and bland. And while there may be those who enjoy such and environment, very little creativity ever came out of catering to the status quo.

    By the way, if the issue wasn’t Janet’s breast but was rather the whole performance, then why did you still have the show on long enough to see the end of it? Why not just change the channel until the game was back on? Was anyone forcing viewers to keep their remotes at their sides? Just curious.

    “If it was a medical show and showed a breast I wouldn’t have a problem with it…..get it?”

    Ah, so this isn’t about the content, it was with the way that the performer chose to use that content for expression? So in other words, we can see certain things as long as they are presented in “acceptable” contexts? Who gets to decide those contexts? And on what grounds will they be making those judgements? Now we’re getting into my issue with this… in at least some cases, this is not about policing content… it’s about policing intent or expression. It’s about policing speech. If an image or expression is acceptable in certain circumstances but not others, when used by some people but not by others… if what makes an image or word objectionable is not the image or word itself but rather who uses it and in what context, then what else do you call it but restricting the expression or speech of those deemed unacceptable?

    “The entertainment industry did it to themselves by constantly trying to push the envelope, trying to be just a little bit trashier than the last time, put in a little more violence, a little more sex, show a little more skin.”

    So if this is so bad, so terrible, so objectionable to so many, then why do such stunts result in higher ratings? If being smuttier turned people off, then none of these tactics would work, ratings would drop, and the networks would be forced to rethink their approach to programming and content. But despite the hue and cry, the ratings keep going up. Despite the gnashing of teeth and wringing of hands, shock jocks and musicians and entertainers continue to be rewarded for such envelope-pushing actions. So somebody’s got to be watching them. And that’s why I believe that so much of this is posturing… we’ll say that content is bad, but we’ll sure watch it when we think no one’s looking.

    “to bring it into a sporting event without warning was STUPID…..”

    Well, we do agree on that point. I’m not defending the performance or Jackson/Timberlake’s decision. Ten seconds of rational thought would have sufficed to make them remember their audience.

  • sheri

    And the South stood aghast at the sheer hypocrisy of those who defend Howard Stern using their righteous reasons out one side of their mouth,while closing the other side to the fact that Howard Stern allowed movie reviews by Daniel Carver of the KKK, using burning crosses.

  • Sandra Smallson

    Christopher:…………But how dare you try to tell me what’s acceptable for me to be entertained by?!

    Sandra: AMEN! Hallelujah! Hear! Hear!

    Christopher: If an image or expression is acceptable in certain circumstances but not others, when used by some people but not by others… if what makes an image or word objectionable is not the image or word itself but rather who uses it and in what context, then what else do you call it but restricting the expression or speech of those deemed unacceptable?

    Sandra: Are you the Messiah?:) I’m joining whatever cult your leading..so far, atleast.

    Debbie or somebody: “The entertainment industry did it to themselves by constantly trying to push the envelope, trying to be just a little bit trashier than the last time, put in a little more violence, a little more sex, show a little more skin.”

    Christopher: So if this is so bad, so terrible, so objectionable to so many, then why do such stunts result in higher ratings? If being smuttier turned people off, then none of these tactics would work, ratings would drop, and the networks would be forced to rethink their approach to programming and content. But despite the hue and cry, the ratings keep going up. Despite the gnashing of teeth and wringing of hands, shock jocks and musicians and entertainers continue to be rewarded for such envelope-pushing actions. So somebody’s got to be watching them. And that’s why I believe that so much of this is posturing… we’ll say that content is bad, but we’ll sure watch it when we think no one’s looking.

    Sandra: Good Jesus, a genius is revealed. I could not agree more. In fact, I agree with everything you have posted so far on this thread. The only exception being the one where Eric called you out. I agree with Eric that it is not necessarily the religious pushing these agendas.

    All this verbiage on either side can be summarised very simply. You can not legislate for what entertains different people and if you do not like it or value it, do not watch it or listen to it. It’s as simple as that. The first step is realising it is JUST YOUR opinion..once you are there, the rest is a breeze.

  • Sandra Smallson

    your-you are. Blame Bank holiday cocktails.

  • http://christopherstake.blogspot.com Christopher

    Sandra,

    Thanks! I always wanted my own cult following! ;-)

    Thanks for the feedback, I appreciate it. And Sheri, for the record, I’ve never approached this issue, not once in any of my postings, as a Stern fan. I don’t usually listen to him, have only begun to recently as sort of my own personal flipping of the bird to Michael Powell and the rest who would tell me what I can and cannot hear or be entertained by.

    However, after reading your remark, I was cautious and curious, so I looked up “Howard Stern and Daniel Carver” on the net. And you’re right – Carver has done movie reviews on Stern’s show. But every review I read, every mention — whether Stern was liked or disliked by the reviewer — said the same thing… that Stern has Carver on the show and then he and the cast verbally abuse Carver mercilessly and basically make a fool of him on national airwaves.

    Do you really mean to tell me that you believe that a New York Jew has Klan sympathies? (The KKK would as soon lynch Jews as blacks, so I somehow doubt that.)

    Anyway, any time that someone provides a forum in which the KKK is belittled, I’m all for it.

  • sheri

    I can see your point. But there are some who would beg to differ with you. Allowing him to use derogatory racist comments about blacks, such as “porch monkeys”, and seeing entertainment value in that tends to be beyond some peoples understanding. And my boyfriend is Jewish, and he found it offensive.

  • http://macaronies.blogspot.com Mac Diva

    (Scratching head.) Did I really read that? Christopher thinks Jews can’t be racists. And, the reason given is that Jews were once targeted by the Ku Klux Klan, as were African-Americans. He can’t be serious. . . . Oops! I forgot this is Blogcritics.

  • http://christopherstake.blogspot.com Christopher

    No, MacDiva, that’s not at all what I said, and no you didn’t really read that. Nowhere did I say Jews can’t be racists. Please tell me where you believe you saw the phrase “Jews can’t be racists” in anything I wrote.

    First of all, Jews are still targeted by the KKK – not “once.” I don’t think that anyone doubts that the folks in white hoods want to see a white, Christian nation.

    My point was that I doubt whether a radio host would sympathize with a group that would just as soon see him dead and his ethnicity eradicated. I wasn’t making blanket statements about any ethnic group’s “ability” to be racist or not – because I don’t think such statements can be made.

    Sheri, I’m at a disadvantage because I generally don’t listen to Stern, so I can’t speak with any authority to the incidents you refer to. In general, it tends to be beyond my understanding how anyone could find Stern’s pre-FCC battle schtick entertaining… and I certainly reject derogatory comments made about any group. (Individuals are obviously another story.) ;-)

    But I guess I feel like popular speech doesn’t need to be protected; it’s the unpopular and the stupid that the Constitution is set up to protect. And I guess that I think that in America, everyone should be free to prove beyond the shadow of a doubt that he’s a racist idiot. I’d rather know who they are than have ‘em hidden anyway. Just my opinion.

    MacDiva, I don’t mind that you disagree with me – god knows that I’m not right often enough for people to need to agree with me. But I do mind that you put words and thoughts into my mouth, and ascribed an opinion to me that I do not hold, nor did I give any indication of holding.

    Think I’m wrong; that’s fine. A lot of times, I am. But please don’t presume to tell people what I think – especially when you’re so far off from my opinion, and when you weren’t in a position to know what my opinion was. I’ll look forward to conversing with you all again – so long as I’m allowed to speak for myself.

    Have a good night, all.

  • sheri

    Hm. Now that you mentioned it, it does appear that way, Diva.

    And isn’t bad publicity, publicity nonetheless? Why give him any publicity at all?

    Even if Stern does not sympathize with the Klan himself, when
    Carver is asked if he hates black people, and his seemingly heartfelt answer is that he just loves white people,I’m thinking that that could strike a sympathetic chord with quite a few people.

    Why give him a pulpit?

  • http://www.geocities.com/dialektomat dialektomat

    For xxxs sake! Our whole life is dirty. Who is that moralist that decides how YOU should behave, and then, in the darkness of a Southern night steals public funds, molestes other people children, and rapes the soul of our society with his righteous demagoguery?

    We got to learn to think for ourself first and forever.

    http://www.geocities.com/dialektomat – visit this page and read Seven Rules Of Creative Survival.

  • sheri

    Oh G=d, not this again.

  • http://macaronies.blogspot.com Mac Diva

    How are you getting all that out of such a short comment, Christopher? My point was simple: Jews, along with any other group, can be bigoted. You say you do see that. Good enough for me.

    Frankly, considering the rate at which some Jews are rushing to join the far Right, it won’t be long before more insist on being Klansmen. Actually, it has already happened to an extent. There is at least one leader of a Klan organization who is Jewish, though he disowns his family now. The other Klan groups shun him.

  • sheri

    Christopher did not even know about the Carver/Stern movie review thing, not unitl I brought it up here. And I must have been drunk to have made it appear as if I agreed with you on anything. Now go wank over your fave photo of Hitler.