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More *@$%! Media Censorship?
2005.04.08 (Fri) 03:35
We recently received an email from the ACLU that warned us about impending censorship legislation which is about to be presented in the Senate. You can see a similar message on the ACLU web site. According to the ACLU memo, the new target will be cable television, and maybe the Internet and satellite radio as well:
Washington's self-appointed arbiters of morality are targeting cable TV -– home to some of America's most popular and cutting-edge programming -- with new federal laws and FCC rules that jeopardize our most basic personal and creative freedoms. According to them, adults can't choose for ourselves what we or our children see; the government must serve as our chaperone, art critic and censor.
If we are going to stop this paternalistic censorship, we must make our voices heard now, before Congress passes legislation, or the FCC issues regulations, expanding "indecency" fines and other forms of suppression to cable TV and the Internet.
Until now, the FCC only regulated over-the-air TV and radio, because these broadcasters use the "public airwaves." Now Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska), Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas), and new FCC Chairman Kevin Martin want to extend censorship to cable TV (that you pay for) and even to satellite radio.
Already, the furor over broadcast and cable "indecency" is at a fever pitch. In February, the House of Representatives passed legislation permitting fines of up to $500,000 for individual instances of "lewd" content on television or radio. Last year indecency fines rose to $8 million from only $32,000 in 2000.
We all understand that many parents don't like a lot of the vulgarity on TV and don't want their children watching it. But that should be their choice, not the choice of Congress, the FCC, and the "morality police."
The original impetus for the FCC's ability to regulate television and radio was that people had no choice but to receive these signals which were broadcast over the public airwaves, and also that there wasn't enough choice among radio stations and television channels in any given market to allow for the average consumer to change the channel. First of all, this is patently absurd today. Most people who watch non-cable channels do so via cable or satellite anyway — almost nobody actually utilizes the broadcast signal. Also, since the inception of cable and satellite television, the number of programming choices is simply staggering, and the ability to selectively block programs that are personally objectionable has improved exponentially.
Quite frankly, there is no reason for the FCC to have this regulatory ability any longer. But, rather than unwinding their powers as the morality police, they are looking to expand them. Surely, the American public won't stand for this, right? Well, according to some poll data we perused, maybe this extra regulation is just what the American people want. We'll summarize what we saw on PollingReport.com:
|Survey Question:||Survey Says:|
|Should the government impose restrictions on information and content that appears on the Internet or should the government not impose restrictions?||Yes: 52% |
|Should government restrict violence and sexual content that appears on cable TV, or should government not impose restrictions?||Yes: 55%|
|How about radio personalities who use implicit or explicit sexual expressions on the air? Should they be allowed to be on the air, or should they not be allowed?||Not Allowed: 64%|
|Recently, the Federal Communications Commission, or FCC, began fining radio station owners hundreds of thousands of dollars for broadcasts they considered indecent. This led to the cancellation of some shows. Do you approve or disapprove of the FCC's actions?||Approve: 58%|
|Let me read you two positions on violence in the media. Between these positions, which do you tend to side with more? Position A: Government should pass laws to limit violence in movies, television, and video games. Position B: Government should not decide the content of movies, television, or video games.||Should Limit: 50%|
These aren't vast majorities, but apparently, far more Americans than we would have thought are not only in favor of the current government censorship of entertainment media, but also think we need more of it. How could this be? Was this data collected at church exit polls? Perhaps the polling sample was restricted to FCC employees? Are they all Religious Right Republicans? Sadly, no. And what's even worse is the following from a 1999 poll:
Our society is often described as being more inclined toward violence than some others. Do you think that [see below] contribute(s) a lot, contribute(s) a little, or don't/doesn't contribute at all to this violence?
[Ed: Percentage results are those who believe that the given factor contributes "A Lot" to increased violence.]
|Influencing Factor:||A Lot of Influence|
|Local TV news reports||39%|
|Easy availability of handguns||65%|
|Lack of adult supervision of children||90%|
Wait...it seems that people actually understand that the lack of parental supervision is the main culprit here — in 1999, 90% of people polled seemed to think that was the main cause of increased violence in American society. It is also clear that many of these same people, who freely admit that lack of parenting is the problem, have no desire to fix this problem themselves. Instead, they want the government to do something about it. In a nutshell, they aren't doing the job themselves, so they want the FCC to take care of it. What a load of #@*&!
Why should the government get to decide what entertainment our children can and cannot enjoy? Shouldn't that be the job of parents? Why are other people so *@$%! concerned about how we raise our children? Couldn't we be equally concerned about someone else's child being raised as a Young Earth Creationist, and would we then have a right to put an end to that parenting practice? Once again, it's the religious right who wants to decide what is and is not "acceptable" for the rest of us, even when we are watching television.
We don't really know what's wrong with these people, but we strongly object to them getting to decide what's right for the other 50% of us who aren't *@$%! obsessed with the viewing habits of everyone else. If they believe that cable television is too immoral to watch, then they should learn how to change the *@$%! channel. It's that simple. And if they don't want their kids to see something, they should try parenting — hell, the built-in parental locks on most systems these days make it so that even your typical lazy #?&*$@! can easily restrict what their kids can watch.
Hey, religious #?&*$@!, here's a thought — instead of parenting for us and our children, how about you start parenting your own children? If you look after your kids, and we look after ours, we'll all be a lot better off. And we won't have to watch The 700 Club every *@$%! weekend.
If you want to get ahead of this one, the ACLU recommends sending a letter or e-mail to your Senators. Of course, you can look them up online and contact them that way, but you can also use the ACLU's form if you prefer. We won't be throwing a Couch Party as the ACLU site suggests, but we will be contacting our Senators and telling them to protect The Daily Show, South Park, and late night Skinemax soft-core porn. Now that's America.
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[Note: Please insert the expletives of your choice in place of the *@$%! characters above. We suggest using variations of the word "fuck" wherever possible, but feel free to use your imagination.]
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[ Filed under: % Civil Liberties % Government & Politics % Media & Censorship ]
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