Monday, February 21, 2005

Brent Gloats, Lawmakers Cower, Democracy Suffers

Obscenity in Action
In his latest column for the right-wing press, First Amendment nemesis Brent Bozell III gives a titillating rundown of television's flirtation with lesbians. From tongue-locked beach beauties on "The O.C." to a gay doctor coming out to her mother on "E.R.," lesbian issues have taken over the airwaves in February. It’s broadcasters' blatant bid to spice up primetime and draw more viewers during sweeps month, Bozell complains. And he’s right about that. But so what?

As always Brent and his trenchant neo-nannies at the Parents Television Council are good for a laugh as they attempt to pour disinfectant over our airwaves. What gets me is the apparent and perverse glee they take in recounting “unseemly” acts for their lily members. A visit to the Parents Television Council website can be more fun than surfing porn.

But the humor goes flat when one sees how effective Bozell and his army of prigs have been. They've chalked up victory after victory as they strong-arm our nation’s regulators and lawmakers to abide by their obscene disregard for our Constitution.

The passage last week of the Broadcast Decency Enforcement Act of 2005 is due in large to Bozell’s uncanny ability to leverage the latest prime time “wardrobe malfunction” to mobilize hundreds of thousands of letter writers. The resulting onslaught of email has Congresspeople and FCC bureaucrats running for cover, shamefully incapable of defending that document upon which our nation was built. Certainly none in the majority were willing to stick their neck out on behalf of our First Amendment and risk the wrath of the PTC, the American Family Association and other blinkered zealots who rein over the chill political climate that now pervades inside the Beltway.

Incoming Education Secretary Margaret Spellings did much to ice the deal earlier this month when she threatened to take back federal grant money if PBS didn't deep-six an installment of the children's show "Postcards from Buster" that featured a cartoon character’s visit to two lesbian families in Vermont.

To cover their grubby tracks, lawmakers cite FCC broadcast license agreements, which loosely obligate television broadcasters to serve the "public interest, convenience and necessity" in exchange for access to a slice of our airwaves. This gives us a legal basis for action, they claim. But many in Washington plan to take their crackdown beyond broadcasters to fine cable producers whose content strays into forbidden territory. Stay tuned for more . . . or less as the case may be.

Now, Bozell is gloating over another victory won on the backs of “shocked” lawmakers in the House. The legislation moves next into the Senate, thanks to Kansas Republican Sam Brownback and Connecticut Democrat Joe Lieberman, where it faces scant opposition. These great defenders of our rights are legislators we Americans voted into office -- who upon serving took an oath to "defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic." [emphasis added]

While we still have the right, it's time Americans mobilized to vote them out.


spyder said...

Maybe we are looking at this a little too negatively. The way the FCC operates, citizens send in written complaints about broadcasts they find offensive to them. That old "community standards" argument of the courts, allows "communities" to be offended. The left needs to launch attacks on the obscene programming of the right. We need to begin making cases for how we are offended by stupid 'focus on the family' type programming. File thousands of email complaints just at Bozo's minions are prone to do.

Bozell reminds me of Meese, when he and his "committee" reviewed thousands of hours of pornographic materials in order to make the claim they are bad for society. I always wondered why anyone would possibly believe the commission members, because if what they said was true happened after experiencing so much porn, then anything they claimed was suspect and prone to irrational thinking and overwrought emotional psychotic ranting. Amazing how the right feels they can have it both ways. Must come from that whole tradition of being able to read five different contradictory passages in a bible and still say they are all literally true.

Anonymous said...

About the Bozell website being like "surfing porn," I wonder how a group can alert the public to objectionable content for children on television without actually explaining, quoting, or showing the content at issue. I understand your point -- that his website could become one-stop shopping for the wildest clips and quotes -- but how would you propose anyone go about identifying "obscenity" on TV -- without putting up any evidence? That's a nice box to put the conservatives in.

Anonymous said...

We need to begin making cases for how we are offended by stupid 'focus on the family' type programmingThat's one way to go, Spyder, although it probably won't be all that effective in a work-the-system way.

Another alternative is to help the FCC accomplish their mandate of interpreting "contemporary community standards." Right now, they're only hearing from a small segment of the community -- the PTC chicken littles.

The rest of us need to speak up about OUR community standards -- the ones where a catching a glimpse of kissing lesbians (or a nipple) doesn't automatically mean a trip to hell.

We've got to beat them at their own game.

rodd11 said...
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Anonymous said...
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