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.