Desperate Regulators (con’td)

by on November 24, 2004 · 12 comments

Last week, I posted a comment on the Monday Night Football/Desperate Housewives tempest, arguing that rather than have the FCC censor broadcasts, Americans should tune out offensive material the old fashioned way, with our thumbs on the remote control.

The post garnered a sprited dissent from a reader who argued that because broadcasting is so pervasive, viewers don’t really have a choice. I suggested that he should get out of the house more. Uh oh. The reader really launched on me after that one, writing:

“Yeah, you’ve got a point James. Let’s let all the shit in the world over the public airwaves. Hardcore porn in primetime. Anybody who doesn’t like it doesn’t have to own a tv. Or go to stores with tv’s. Or own cars with radios. Or let your kids have friends with either. How about a little full frontal nudity on the nightly news? It’s my fault for watching tv at all. “Get out more?” You’re basically telling me that it’s a parent’s responsibility to shield their kids from anything they don’t want them to see, but the only way to do that is to become Amish. Tell me, do you support having ANY decency standards on tv or radio at all? If so, what is that line?”

Wow. I really got him mad, which is probably my fault for being so flip. (And it’s not like we have so many readers here we can afford to offend any of them!) And he does raise points which deserve an answer.


As a first matter, I’m still stumped as to why this stuff on TV is so hard to avoid. Maybe I’m out of the mainstream, but somehow I missed the MNF video–didn’t hear about it until it was endlessly played on the news. In fact, I’ve also never seen “Desperate Housewives” itself. I even missed the Janet Jackson breast thing–didn’t watch the Super Bowl halftime show at all. I’m not saying I’m like most Americans in viewing habits, but I’m not Amish either. Not even close.

My point is that, with a hundred or so channels to choose from, I don’t see any of them as unavoidable. And it doesn’t matter whether those channels are on “broadcast” tv or cable. Like the vast majority of Americans, all my channels come through cable, and I don’t really care whether they’re also sent throught the ether.

Is there a chance that kids will see something untoward in a store, or at a friend’s house? Yes, of course, just as they might see something untoward in a magazine or newspaper. That doesn’t mean that we should censor print media (or that magazines and newspapers inevitably become pornographic just because the FCC doesn’t control them.)

But do I still have a choice if I want to watch NFL football? Aren’t I then stuck with watching whatever trash comes with the football game? Well, yes, then I am. For the same reason that if I want to watch the “Simpsons” I am at the mercy of Fox Broadcasting and Matt Groening, or if I want to watch the CBS Evening News I am at the mercy of Dan Rather (at least until next March.)

The point is that NFL football belongs to its owners, and that those owners can decide where it is shown, what it is shown with, and what kind of image it will have. It may certainly be a bad business decision to mix NFL football with videos of women dropping towels, but until I buy an NFL franchise (or a share of the broadcaster who buys the rights to the NFL), I don’t really get to decide. The NFL, by the way, also has every incentive not to offend its viewers–even without FCC oversight. (Popular as it is, the World Wrestling Federation is probably not the preferred product image for most sports owners.)

The reader concludes by asking what decency standards I would put on radio and TV. Very simply, I’d apply the same standards used for cable, or better yet, for newspapers and magazines. There simply isn’t a need for government controls on speech in a world where outlets are not limited. Even if you are not Amish.

  • Walt

    The notion of the public owning the “airwaves” as a legitimate basis for regulation is mere rhetoric. The act of speaking is, for the most part, protected and utterly dependent on waves in the air, public or otherwise. Only so many can talk at any one time yet there are no laws restricting the use of the “speech spectrum.”
    Of course, electromagnetic signals do not travel via “airwaves” at all, but don’t get me started.

  • Walt

    The notion of the public owning the “airwaves” as a legitimate basis for regulation is mere rhetoric. The act of speaking is, for the most part, protected and utterly dependent on waves in the air, public or otherwise. Only so many can talk at any one time yet there are no laws restricting the use of the “speech spectrum.”
    Of course, electromagnetic signals do not travel via “airwaves” at all, but don’t get me started.

  • James Gattuso

    Exactly right. Now we just need three people like you on the FCC…

  • James Gattuso

    Exactly right. Now we just need three people like you on the FCC…

  • http://www.voluntarytrade.org Skip Oliva

    The subtext of the indecency debate is media consolidation. It is the Democrats on the FCC–notably Michael Copps, a career government hack, who have been pushing for the stiffest indecency penalties. Their agenda is not right-wing puritanism, but rather left-wing micromanagement. Copps has been very clear that he wants to veto virtually any media merger that does not sufficiently promote “diversity”. For example, he railed against a merger of two Hispanic media companies because of his belief that it would deny “competition” to Spanish-language media consumers. Copps went so far as to call proponents of the merger racist.

    The Copps-Democratic theory is that bigger media means more indecency, and that forcing media companies to emphasize “localism” will keep “community standards” enforced.

  • http://www.voluntarytrade.org Skip Oliva

    The subtext of the indecency debate is media consolidation. It is the Democrats on the FCC–notably Michael Copps, a career government hack, who have been pushing for the stiffest indecency penalties. Their agenda is not right-wing puritanism, but rather left-wing micromanagement. Copps has been very clear that he wants to veto virtually any media merger that does not sufficiently promote “diversity”. For example, he railed against a merger of two Hispanic media companies because of his belief that it would deny “competition” to Spanish-language media consumers. Copps went so far as to call proponents of the merger racist.

    The Copps-Democratic theory is that bigger media means more indecency, and that forcing media companies to emphasize “localism” will keep “community standards” enforced.

  • kyle hunter

    Your irate reader seems to forget that he allows the TV signal into his home by either purchasing cable or using an antenna to capture free TV.

    Furthermore, when he goes to another’s home, he implicitly agrees to rules of the other homeowner and that includes the other’s choice of TV programming.

    Additionally, when he goes to a public (or private) business he again supplies his implicit agreement that he can not dictate to the owner except by refusing to purchase their products.

    Too often people complain about being incapable of avoiding “all that filth” by changing the channel or “getting out more often.” But, so what? I have yet to find any mention of a right to “freedom from being inundated with filth from the ‘public airwaves’” in the Constitution. But if there were, I’d demand that the government and your irate reader keep their hands of “my” slice of the public airwaves.

  • kyle hunter

    Your irate reader seems to forget that he allows the TV signal into his home by either purchasing cable or using an antenna to capture free TV.

    Furthermore, when he goes to another’s home, he implicitly agrees to rules of the other homeowner and that includes the other’s choice of TV programming.

    Additionally, when he goes to a public (or private) business he again supplies his implicit agreement that he can not dictate to the owner except by refusing to purchase their products.

    Too often people complain about being incapable of avoiding “all that filth” by changing the channel or “getting out more often.” But, so what? I have yet to find any mention of a right to “freedom from being inundated with filth from the ‘public airwaves’” in the Constitution. But if there were, I’d demand that the government and your irate reader keep their hands of “my” slice of the public airwaves.

  • Mike Smith

    You’re all fucking sheep being led to the slaughter. The media poison is just one front in the multi-pronged attack on the Western world. It is designed to destroy Western values, Western dignity, and the race who created Western civilization.

    It doesn’t matter what fucking channel you put it on morons – the same degrading, race-mixing, kike-inspired FILTH is there, to one degree or another. If it’s not in the programming it’s in the commericals. The argument “change the channel” is like saying if you don’t like what you see in the world around you then gouge out your fucking eyes out.

    The media is being used to drag my race through the fucking mud, and I’m supposed to just “change the channel”? Fuck you. I bet you little dipshits wouldn’t feel the same way if a show that degraded niggers, faggots, or Jews was broadcast would you? Then you’d be all up in arms over it. What would happen to “change the channel” then eh? Fucking hypocrites.

    At this point talk is useless, we will continue to see more and more of this disgusting trash pushed down our throats, until we White Men stand up and slaughter the sodomites and Hebes by stringing them up from their feet and gutting them in front of their loved ones while they’re still alive.

    I am here merely to inform you of the pain and suffering that will be the end result of all this vile filth for those who purvey it. The only reason I’m not out murdering motherfuckers right now is that I have a good job and the economy is relatively strong. But that’s changing.

    All you little commie “liberal” worms do is merely parrot what your Sheeny masters have taught you. Sweet dreams cunts.

  • Mike Smith

    You’re all fucking sheep being led to the slaughter. The media poison is just one front in the multi-pronged attack on the Western world. It is designed to destroy Western values, Western dignity, and the race who created Western civilization.

    It doesn’t matter what fucking channel you put it on morons – the same degrading, race-mixing, kike-inspired FILTH is there, to one degree or another. If it’s not in the programming it’s in the commericals. The argument “change the channel” is like saying if you don’t like what you see in the world around you then gouge out your fucking eyes out.

    The media is being used to drag my race through the fucking mud, and I’m supposed to just “change the channel”? Fuck you. I bet you little dipshits wouldn’t feel the same way if a show that degraded niggers, faggots, or Jews was broadcast would you? Then you’d be all up in arms over it. What would happen to “change the channel” then eh? Fucking hypocrites.

    At this point talk is useless, we will continue to see more and more of this disgusting trash pushed down our throats, until we White Men stand up and slaughter the sodomites and Hebes by stringing them up from their feet and gutting them in front of their loved ones while they’re still alive.

    I am here merely to inform you of the pain and suffering that will be the end result of all this vile filth for those who purvey it. The only reason I’m not out murdering motherfuckers right now is that I have a good job and the economy is relatively strong. But that’s changing.

    All you little commie “liberal” worms do is merely parrot what your Sheeny masters have taught you. Sweet dreams cunts.

  • Courtney Gidts

    I’ve managed to save up roughly $64643 in my bank account, but I’m not sure if I should buy a house or not. Do you think the market is stable or do you think that home prices will decrease by a lot?

  • Courtney Gidts

    I’ve managed to save up roughly $64643 in my bank account, but I’m not sure if I should buy a house or not. Do you think the market is stable or do you think that home prices will decrease by a lot?

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