Thursday, July 12, 2007

We know what's best for you

When I was young and of that age when one first becomes conscious of swear words my father told me that their use in conversation showed one’s limited vocabulary.

I agree. Swearing for shock value isn’t just wrong, it’s stupid.

Chances are that your kids’ first few encounters with whatever you define as profanity or indecency will come from someplace other than radio, television or recorded material.

Whether it’s public, private, or parochial school, your kids are going to be exposed to profanity and dirty jokes long before they’re twelve. Some will access adult sites, adult video channels or, perhaps, surreptitiously view a parent’s porn stash.

It’s a fact of life. Deal with it.

That being said, I am a proponent of parents and guardians teaching kids right from wrong. If you can’t teach your own kids how to live in this world – what does that say about you?

Do you really expect the government controls to make this a safer world for your kids? So far, their track record is overwhelmingly dreadful.

If you trust them I’d have a hard time trusting you with your kids.

I’m sick and tired of media getting the blame for all social ills. Media reflects society. When it doesn’t, it fails.

Those that feel The Sopranos, Rescue Me, the Shield, Weeds, Nip/Tuck or NYPD Blue reruns are profane - fine. It’s your opinion. You don’t have to watch it. Turn it off. Don’t want your kids to watch them? Activate your V-chip or cable/satellite controls that restrict certain programs from being viewed by your kids.

It’s that easy. Really.

Just don’t dictate to me what I want to watch or hear. Kapish?

Question: Why is it that those complaining about too much government control are the ones most vocal about obscenity in the media?

Second question: Which way do you want it because you can’t have it both ways?

True, the radio industry left itself wide open for protests brought on by pushing the envelope on grossness instead of creativity.

There’s only one Howard Stern. You’re not going to copy, emulate, or in any way duplicate his show. When other stations learned what Stern was billing, they trotted out dozens of knock offs. The practice was doomed to fail. Stations were frontloaded with marginal air talent trying to out shock-jock Stern.

There is a place for Howard. There’s a place for Opie and Anthony. If that doesn’t happen to be your place – change the station. If Clear Channel is blanketing its active rock stations with shock jocks in all dayparts – change the station. In fact, in their case, most already have.

Moving right along. Have you heard the latest one about Senator Sam Brownback (R-KS)? You’d think he’d be satisfied in getting his way with the Broadcast Decency Enforcement Act of 2005 going to effect next week. But Noooooo!

He’s effectively fashioned a base of support with the right-wing Christian coalitions and he’s going to exploit their espousal for all it’s worth.

That’s what GOP Presidential candidates do. Play the Bible card.

Earlier this week he churned out more mush when announcing his ambition to give the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) the right to enforce profanity on radio and television.

The FCC had cited the Fox Network for well-documented live broadcasts where the f and s-words were uttered. The U.S. Second Court of Appeals stepped in, and in a 2-1 decision, reprimanded the FCC; saying it lacked the authority to do so and that networks can’t be held accountable for incidents that occur on live television broadcasts.

The court did leave an opening for the FCC, allowing it to better define and justify its profanity policy. Given their track record, it’s unlikely they’ll come up with any real elucidation on the subject since their only goal is to be judge and jury and facts get in the way.

Since the Fox incidents, the networks have been running most of their live programming on a few seconds of delay, which allows them to bleep allegedly offensive words. Now, that may change. And it should.

Brownback said he’ll offer two amendments to a general government appropriations bill today. On Tuesday, he stated that he would, “continue support For the FCC to fine broadcasters who air indecent, profane, or obscene content.” He’s also adding a violence clause, which would “fine broadcasters for airing excessive violent content during the hours when children are most likely to be in the audience."

I wonder if he means daily news footage from war in Iraq.

Like most of what comes out of Brownback’s office, his definitions on profanity and violence remain vague. We know what we want we just haven’t figured out how we want it.

The zealots at the Parents Television Council (PTC) released a bulletin to members, urging them to contact legislators to support the profanity ammendment.

The real reason Brownback’s courting the Christian right has everything to do with their fat bankroll. And Sammy wants their largesse.

Brownback should read his own Bible. Specifically, Luke 12:48: “To whom much is given, much is expected.” The Christian right are masterful at taking anything and shaping it into the symbol their condition requires. That’s how they got to own Bush to dance to their tune.

Bait and ye shall receive.

Brownback’s already a slave to those insane-eyed religious right wing fomenters, which make the Moonies, the Hari Krishnas, and jam band addicts anodyne by comparison.

It must be said, though, that if Brownback does get his way and President George W. Bush signs it into law, the amendment would invalidate the court’s decision and broadcasting will revert back to its Darkest Age.

If it fails, it’s believed that the FCC, with Bush’s solid backing, is ready to take this to the full appeals court or the Supreme Court.

Other than a waste of time and taxpayer dollars this one’s not going to happen – as long as the broadcast industry gets the support needed by the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB). It’s best to kick the crap out of someone who started the fight with you.

David, where are you? It’s getting hot, hot, hot!


Tom Becka said...

I interviewed Senator Brownback a few years back when he was getting his initial vague legislation through.

He couldn't or wouldn't answer the two most improtant questions I asked.

1) What was his definition of indecency?

2) If these are the public airwaves and Howard Stern ( at the time) is the number one jock in New York what about that public? Don't they have a right to their airwaves too?

Shortly after I threw in the part of how the republicans were supposed to be against so much government regulation the interview turned into a shouting match with me doing most of the shouting.

if Brownbacks candidacy gets any traction God help us all.

Anonymous said...

God help us all.

Anonymous said...

All we can hope is that Hillary will appoint a FCC Chair who has some sense. Just because a law exists doesn't mean it has to be enforced, as evidenced by the current administration.

John said...

As for my nine year old son. I explain to him that there are no bad words, just inappropriate times to say them.
Like many his age he listens to rap. I try and sensor his listening of most gangsta rap where foul language is used gratuitously. On the other hand, something like The Beastie Boys, who use the words for emphasis and as plain old expletives is fine in my book. I tend to allow him to hear this sort of thing unsensored.
As you say, he's going to pick it up on the school bus first.

Anonymous said...

Look at the fine job local, city, state and federal government did with our school system. The government,especially this administration, only knows how to make bad things worse. We don't need their brand of censorship. We can make our own minds up and please let us take care of our kids ourselves.

Irish Hermit said...

It never fails to amaze me that Conservatives think that "saving our kids" means censoring television and radio while we have the second lowest infant moratlity rate in the industrialized world. Only Latvia's IMR is worse.

Gary said...

Modern day censorship seems to be one of those good ides gone bad. You're completely right. With the technology available today to censor things for your children there's really no reason to demand that the government do it for you.

Anonymous said...

Teach your children. Wasn't that a baby boomer song? How quickly we forget. The government let the radio industry fall apart. School systems, day care, you name it and the same government knows what is right for our kids?

Anonymous said...

The Christian Coalition supported Foley and Vitter. Foley liked boys, Vitter liked prostitutes and now Florida State rep Robert Allen another CC favorite was busted for soliticing oral sex in a men's room in Titusville. He was ready to pay $20 to someone who turned out to be an undercover cop who was observing him because he was acting suspicious by hanging around the men's room. The Christian Coalition. I'm lovin' it.

Anonymous said...

Brownback needs to read, or have his counsel read, Pacifica v. FCC and Action for Children's TV v. FCC, as well as the wealth of First Amendment cases out there.

The Second Circuit FOX case left open the constitutionality question of per se indecency, as the statutory authority basis was enough for its reversal.

Should the court take up the constitutional challenge, I cannot see how a per se indecent rule (that is, "fuck" and "shit" are indecent in every usage, regardless of context) passes muster under Pacifica's standard. It's a contextual question. If the FCC is going to find certain words per se indecent in all usages between 6am and 10pm, it must have a very different First Amendment caselaw book than I had in law school.

Anonymous said...

The republicans want censorship and the democrats want to bring back the fairness doctrine. Broadcasters are screwed either way! All of the candidates on both sides scare the hell out of me.

Anonymous said...

Hey, Hermit let's not forget that it's the liberals that are the ones that are willing to kill the infants with their so called "pro-choice".