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4.15.04 Indecency

I'm thinking about indecency. Is it any big surprise that in an election year, the Ashcroft wing of the Bush Administration would start cracking down?

I don't listen to Howard Stern. He's on the wrong station at the wrong time. When I have heard him, I see he can be boorishly over the top. If I'm not in the mood, I switch to something else.

The indecency crusaders have probably heard of switching stations too. But they aren't worried about their own good judgment. They are worried about others (often referred to as "the children").

The FCC defines broadcast indecency as follows:

..."language or material that, in context, depicts or describes, in terms patently offensive as measured by contemporary community broadcast standards for the broadcast medium, sexual or excretory organs or activities." Indecent programming contains patently offensive sexual or excretory references that do not rise to the level of obscenity. Indecent programming may, however, be restricted in order to avoid its broadcast during times of the day when there is a reasonable risk that children may be in the audience.

But they go on to say:

Expressions of views that do not involve a "clear and present danger of serious substantive evil" come under the protection of the Constitution, which guarantees freedom of speech and freedom of the press.

Somehow I find it hard to think of fart jokes as dangerous and evil, when "freedom of speech" gives right-wing broadcasters the right to bash gays, women, immigrants, Moslems, Jews, and whoever else they hate.

It's okay to send "the children" to their deaths in Iraq under false pretenses but God (or FCC) forbid they should hear the word "fucking" slip out of someone's mouth during a broadcast.

It's very troubling. First, the FCC allowed for great consolidation of the media in the hands of a few owners. Now, they are petitioning Congress to be able to charge crippling fines for a slip of the tongue, a joke in bad taste, or a "wardrobe malfunction."

The administration is fearful that genuine democracy in Iraq will result in the Shia majority putting a theocracy in place. And yet, under Ashcroft's leadership, we Americans are very quietly putting a fundamentalist Christian theocracy into place. But maybe that's the point. Maybe we want to be the Big Christians in a world full of secularists (France) and strange "other" religions.

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