Handy-dandy indecency smasher

handsoffmytv.jpgHandy-dandy indecency smasher

: Pete Blackwell gives us instructions for the only device you’ll ever need to get things you don’t like off your TV.

: Howard Stern this morning ran a commercial for another amazing technological innovcation that cures this indecency thing: The Knob.

: And Ernie Miller gives us one of his magnificent analyses of the FCC ruling on Private Ryan. He shows, for example, how silly it is that the FCC has to decree that the F-word is always sexual — even when uttered in he mud of a foxhole, making it curiously homoerotic in the case of Ryan. He concludes:

By all means, let’s honor veterans (I’m one), but maybe we could also honor the liberties those veterans fought and died for. The FCC understands that we should honor veterans, but they apparently do not understand why they deserve to be honored.

  • Mumblix Grumph

    Wait, wait…you expect me to learn the complex mysteries of TWO different buttons on my TV? That’s Congress’ job!
    How can I purchase this “KNOB” product you mentioned?
    I really don’t care about the language issue, but I’m all for more “peanut smuggling” on TV.

  • http://paxety.com/Articles/blog.html Juan Paxety

    I’m always reminded of Atlanta talk-show host Neal Boortz, who, when told by callers he should not be allowed to say things on the air, he would reply, “Lady, there are two knobs on your radio. Turning either will solve your problem.”

  • MWB

    Jeff often says, “it’s all about the conversation”, though he seems to forget this when it comes to First Amendment issues, preferring namecalling, condescension and demagoguery as he paints gray areas black and white.
    So, in case anyone’s interested in the conversation instead of just a self-congratulatory club, I offer the following quote from the 1978 Pacifica ruling (the last major free speech challenge of this sort that the Supreme Court considered):
    “Patently offensive, indecent material presented over the airwaves confronts the citizen, not only in public, but also in the privacy of the home, where the individual’s right to be left alone plainly outweighs the First Amendment rights of an intruder. Because the broadcast audience is constantly tuning in and out, prior warnings cannot completely protect the listener or viewer from unexpected program content. To say that one may avoid further offense by turning off the radio when he hears indecent language is like saying that the remedy for an assault is to run away after the first blow. One may hang up on an indecent phone call, but that option does not give the caller a constitutional immunity or avoid a harm that has already taken place.”
    Justice Stevens wrote the above, and was joined by Chief Justice Burger, Renquist, Powell and Blackmun in ruling for the FCC against Pacifica. Stewart, Brennan, White and Marshall dissented.
    Thoughts?

  • richard mcenroe

    MWB

  • Otis Wildflower

    So I assume Howard’s stopped whining about Cheapasano and how hot it is in the studio? I quit listening after about two years of that and only that.. Robin was so good before Prozac…
    Oh, and you know what a ‘knob’ is in Britslang, yes? Bwahahaha…

  • http://amomentwith.typepad.com/ Easycure

    The FCC are a bunch of KNOBS.
    It had to be said.

  • Hovig

    To say that one may avoid further offense by turning off the radio when he hears indecent language is like saying that the remedy for an assault is to run away after the first blow.
    My thoughts exactly. The problem with major networks is that they try to be all things to all people. If you’re watching the “Conservative Christian Safe Shows For Kids” channel, you pretty much know what you’re going to get. But when you watch anything short of that, you’re never quite sure.
    In an age where a parent demands to vet everything their kids see or do, and everyone they associate with, it’s incongruous to think a parent should throw a wild house party with all sorts of random people, and, when someone starts fondling their child, merely “turn the channel.”
    Let me get something straight: I don’t think TV is the equivalent of pedophilia, I don’t believe in censorship, and I don’t think TV today is hastening the End of the World. To a certain extent I’m simply playing Devil’s Advocate here, so cut me some lack.
    But the kernel of my point I believe is valid: It’s entirely reasonable to desire the ability to know in advance the types of material you will be subject to.
    My real amazement is that somehow TV and radio are treated completely differently by the anti-censorship crowd that every other product we consume. This smacks of ideology to me, maybe not as bad as the pro-censorship crowd, but ideology is bad in any measure.
    For example, I’m not sure we’d be happy when the chocolate bar we purchase has a lump of broccoli in it. We expect chocolate, because that’s what we’re in the mood for, and that’s what we paid for.
    I agree that when you tune into Howard Stern you know exactly what you’re going to get, but remember there are two arguments here: one, when a media outlet is trying to be all things to all people, and when they’re constantly trying to push boundaries and buttons, you’re not always quite sure what any given program is going to deliver; and two: “changing the channel” doesn’t prevent anything.
    I’ll concede that “changing the channel” is a metaphor for “applying market pressure,” but since we’re not necessarily talking about market pressure here, and since TV and radio is always trying to push the boundaries, we need to be careful with our arguments.

  • http://www.corante.com/importance/ Ernest Miller

    Of course, one could have easily been channel surfing with one’s children last Veterans Day and come across one of the many vulgarities that lace Saving Private Ryan, but apparently, that is okay, whereas coming across Carlin’s monologue is not. But wait, you say, ABC warned viewers before the movie and during commercials that it might be offensive. Doesn’t save channel surfers and don’t forget that Pacifica also broadcast a warning before broadcasting Carlin’s monologue. But wait, you say, the context is different. Saving Private Ryan was a war movie that had to be shown in its entirety to get the full impact. Of course, Carlin’s monologue was broadcast during a public discussion show regarding society’s attitude toward speech … not enough context there, apparently.

  • Ben

    First of all, I don’t think that a person should have to choose between, participating in the common culture by watching, say, the Super Bowl, OR avoiding indecency. I think most Americans believe that there should be a “common area” on the airwaves that simply doesn’t have indecency.
    Second of all, your “knob” argument made a whole lot more sense when I was single or newly married and only had myself to worry about. Now I have kids and the whole game has changed. We choose not to watch much TV in my house, partially because you never know what is going to invade your home. But what about when my kids go to someone else’s home? I don’t think I should have to interview every parent of every child my kids play with to ensure they have the same standards we do. I would hope that I could count on my kids not being exposed to anything inappropriate just because they happen to walk through the room when the TV is tuned to NBC at 7:00 on a random Wednesday evening.

  • Joe

    MWB- Since you highlighted a phrase from a Supreme Court justice comparing indecent LANGUAGE to physical assault, could you please explain what actual harm there is to the listener who stumbles upon the Carlin routine? Yes, they were offended. Who the *bleep* cares? For a few seconds the offended person can say “ew” and then change the station. And possibly never listen to that station again. There is absolutely nothing along the lines of physical assault.
    Many times I have flipped on a station showing a reality program and seen people eating disgusting things like cow innards or vomiting on the screen and been really disgusted and offended. So I changed the station. Was it unpleasant for me? Yes. Did I get over it within a few moments? Yes. Do I have the right to demand that “Fear Factor”, a popular program with many Americans, be taken off the air? Well maybe if I was a selfish prude who wanted everything to be geared toward what I want to watch. But I’m not.

  • http://www.oregoncommentator.com Timothy

    You can always use the channel lock on your television, also. Or, if you’re really forward-thinking, stop being such whiny, uptight prudes and quit ruining TV for the rest of us. I am an adult, I’ll decide what I want to watch, thanks. I don’t need the FCC telling me what is and isn’t suitable. It isn’t the government’s job to restrain content because lazy, no-account parents out there can’t take the 10 minutes to read TV guide. Get the kid a book or something, lock every channel but PBS, I don’t care what you do but stop telling congress to tell me what I am and am not allowed to watch.

  • Joe

    Ben – what events in the indecency debate over the last year are you afraid that your children would have seen? A brief and mostly unnoticeable glimpse of Janet Jackson’s nipple? Bono uttering the F word? A Desperate Housewife’s bare back? Or Saving Private Ryan’s language and violence? I would have to agree with you that young children probably cannot handle the violent images shown in Private Ryan. But I would have to disagree that a brief shot of a woman’s breast or back or a single curse word is going to cause any harm whatsoever to your children. What exactly is it you’re afraid of?

  • http://www.elflife.com/ carsonfire

    “…quit ruining TV for the rest of us.”
    This shows the selfish attitude inherent in this argument. It’s all about YOU. What YOU want on TV. The desires of families, on the other hand, is piddling apart from the fact that it ruins something for YOU.
    Flashing boobies unexpectedly during the Super Bowl… no channel surfing involved, no chance to use a “knob”, essentially assaulting people’s children en masse… you don’t think that ruined TV for a significant number of people?
    Oh, but of course. That doesn’t matter. It’s all about YOU.

  • Joe

    Carsonfire -
    I would argue that it is YOU who is selfishly telling ME what YOU want on TV, since YOUR actions prevent such things as Saving Private Ryan from being shown on my television. Instead of being SELFISH yourself, can’t you instead take the much easier step of changing the “knob” and not bothering those of us who are not offended by the brief flash of a human being’s nipple and aren’t so warped as to think that such a vision is “essentially assaulting people’s children en masse”. Are you serious with that phrase?

  • Ben

    Joe,
    Well, if you are a basically amoral person, then I guess there is no harm in letting children see Janet Jackson’s breast (and all the dry humping that was going on before that) or in letting them hear a few vulgarities. But in my family (an in many others), we believe in decency and in not celebrating or encouraging crassness and crudity. Since we are trying to instill good values in our kids, then yes, there is harm in them seeing such things. This used to be common sense — what on earth have we come to?

  • http://www.oregoncommentator.com Timothy

    Carsonfire: The difference is, that under my regime you are free to use any number of techniques to limit what comes into your house while under your preposed regime everyone must bow to the capricious whim of your puritanical prudery. If so much of what’s on TV offends you, don’t watch TV. If it’s only some programs, use the handy channel-locking feature available on all satellite and digital cable systems. If you only get broadcast, well, there are already plenty of laws and you can always remove the offending channels from the TVs channel list.
    I want you to be responsible for yourself, you want the government to impose your will on everyone. I reiterate: get the kids a book, it’s better for them anyway. Oh, and aren’t there those handy TV ratings nowadays? When I was a kid mom and dad just had to pay attention to what I watched, now there’s an easy number that appears in the corner of most broadcasts. Just look at that, very simple to do, or bloody read TV guide. It’s called pro-active parenting.

  • Mike

    Joe,
    If you want to see Saving Private Ryan, just go rent or buy the DVD for crying out loud. Then you can watch on your TV to your heart’s content. No one, repeat, no one is limiting your ability to buy/rent that movie or whatever sort of porn, smut, profanity-laced movie or show to watch on your TV.
    The same reasoning we keep free TV programming free of material that some folks may find indecent is the same reason why children can’t buy pornographic magazines in stores. Or is that a violation of the first amendment as well?

  • h0mi

    This shows the selfish attitude inherent in this argument. It’s all about YOU. What YOU want on TV. The desires of families, on the other hand, is piddling apart from the fact that it ruins something for YOU.

    You fail to recgonize that those “families” you’re referring to are doing precisely the same thing; it’s about what they want to see on tv, and NOT want to see on tv, regardless of what I think or what I want to watch or listen to.
    I’d concede that a compromise is in order, though. But a compromise is not “I agree to everything you want and get nothing in return.” Clear and specific standards of what is indecent/obscene and what isn’t is a start. We already have vchips on TVs so there’s really no good excuse for not using them to block inappropriate material on tv. I (and Jarvis) get to watch what we want to watch on tv, you get to block out it out on TV. If you set your tv to allow “G” rated movies and material filters in that’s clearly tv-14, then I’d say fines are in order for failing to adhere to specific standards. But you bear the responsibility for setting your tv properly.
    Deal?

  • Joe

    Ben – how is the glimpse of a breast “amoral”? How is the brief utterance of an F word “amoral”? Can’t you just say to your children “Bono shouldn’t have said that, it’s a bad word, I don’t want to hear you saying that.” Or don’t you think your children will ever hear a bad word or glimpse a breast in their lives? If you’re a good parent, what’s on television is not going to adversely affect your children. And neither is the glimpse of a human being’s nipple. Again – how in the world is that “amoral”?

  • Mike

    If you only get broadcast, well, there are already plenty of laws and you can always remove the offending channels from the TVs channel list.

    That’s the point Timothy, we are discussing broadcast TV here. The examples here were not shows televised on cable and satellite, they were during the Super Bowl (only the most watched program in the country every year), a FOX drama series, and so forth. And that’s where my argument ends, broadcast TV. Cable and satelite should be free from governmental control because I am paying for that service, so I should be responsible for what is being watched.

  • Ben

    The basic argument here is over whose preferences are the norm on broadcast television: the people who want decency or the libertines. Timothy argues that it should be the libertines. Anyone who doesn’t want soft porn on their television should either not watch TV at all, or should go out and buy expensive options (sorry, I don’t have the dough for digital cable) to lock out objectionable content, and THEN trust that the people doing the locking are actually catching it all. And of course, he does not say anything about how to properly manage the situation when the kids go visit someone else. Bottom line: he doesn’t give a crap what anyone’s kids see, because he’s too busy banging his spoon on his highchair about what HE wants.
    The law has traditionally said that the public airwaves should be free of indecency. Those who wish to see such things should either purchase it (DVD) or pay extra to get premium channels (HBO, Skinamax, etc.). In that way, the person who wants to see such things can control what comes in HIS HOUSE without imposing on anyone else. It makes perfect sense… unless you are a selfish blowhard, that is.
    Personally, I find it sad that I can not sit down and watch a football game with my son because even there, I never know what we’re going to see, especially in the ads. How does TV Guide help me there, Timothy?
    At any rate, this argument will not be settled here, and I am done for now.

  • Joe

    Mike -
    First of all, why are you comparing Saving Private Ryan to “porn” or “smut”? That wasn’t exactly the movie that I saw.
    Second of all, why in the world should I have to go buy or rent it when a television network is willing to show it on “free television” and all you have to do to prevent your children from seeing it is turn the knob? Do you see the lack of rationality in your argument?
    Oh and Mike, keep defending the rights of the government to completely control broadcast TV because we have cable and satellite, but don’t come complaining when that’s the next thing they go after.

  • Deoxy

    “If you only get broadcast, well, there are already plenty of laws”
    Yes, and we’re actually asking them to be enforced! What monstrous cretins we are!
    You whole argument falls apart with this simple admission BY YOU. We are specifically complaining about things which are specifically covered by these laws, and you are telling us to get over it “because there are laws”.
    Braodcast media is done over PUBLIC airwaves, where everyone and anyone can tune in. That means my 2 year-old could walk up to the TV, change the channel (most TVs don’t have “channel lock”, nor should they need it), and see whatever happens to be on any station at the moment. Since it is utterly impossible to keep every child under perfect and complete supervision at all times (obviously so when one has more children than adults in the house), even a very responsible parent could well be unavailable to correct the problem (example: 1 parent at work, the other changing a dirty diaper). Let’s just start at hard-core pron – that shouldn’t be allowed on broadcast media, right? In the situation above, I would be more than just a little offended if that’s what my child changed the channel to (and no, I don’t have cable – that’s one of the reasons).
    We aren’t demanding that you can’t watch porn, violence, violent porn, whatever. We are demanding the ability to protect our children FROM that stuff.
    Since you brought up the vchip, etc, there is also something called a VCR (or DVD plyer, or par-per-view, or ….). You can use that technology to watch practically anything… without piping it into MY home.
    Which one is actively intruding on another’s liberty? Piping stuff into their home without their permission, or allowing them to watch whatever they want in the privacy of their own home as long as they don’t bother their neighbors with it?
    Fairly simple, actually.

  • http://www.oregoncommentator.com Timothy

    Mike: so long as you agree that cable should be left alone I think we’ll have more common ground. I do, however, think that the FCC should get out of content regulation all together. One, it’s just a breast, I doubt simply seeing four tenths of a second of nipple flash was more traumatizing to a kid than his/her parents’ overblown reaction to same. Two, I don’t think it’s that hard to say, “little Johnny, Bono just said a naughty word that I don’t want to hear you repeating, is that clear, young man?” I know what the consequences were for dropping dirty words when I was growing up (eventhough both my parents and my grandparents have quite an affinity for them, oh the hypocrisy of parenthood :-), and it kept me in line. Before it was on TV kids heard it from their friends, or somebody’s older brother and what not. There never was an age of innocence, and governmental intrusion designed to move us toward some glorious-and-nonexistant past can only go horribly awry.

  • h0mi

    (and all the dry humping that was going on before that)

    None of which provoked any fines for CBS.

  • Ben

    “How is the glimpse of a breast ‘amoral’? How is the brief utterance of an F word ‘amoral’?”
    If I have to explain it to you, then you won’t understand anyway. Maybe I should just let them see porn, too. Like I said, this all used to be common sense.

  • Ben

    “None of which provoked any fines for CBS.”
    But it should have.

  • Joe

    What Ben and Mike and everyone advocating government censorship always do is jump to preventing “soft porn” from appearing in prime time TV. A glimpse of Janet Jackson’s nipple was not soft porn. Bono saying the F word is not soft porn. Howard Stern is not soft porn. IF Fox decided to show a Skinemax movie in prime time, then I could see why you would be upset. IT HASN’T HAPPENED!!! Stop comparing what has happened to some hypothetical creation of your purile mind.
    I just don’t understand the need for censorship over the glimpse of a breast. Ben apparently doesn’t understand either, since he is unable to explain why it’s “amoral”.

  • Mike

    Joe, first of all, I wasn’t comparing Saving Private Ryan to smut or porn, give me a break that’s ridiculous. And no, I don’t see any lack of rationality in my arguments. You don’t have any right to expect to see that movie over broadcast TV, especiaaly given the current standards we have for broadcast television. And like Deoxy states, these laws are already in place. You are the one looking to suspend them.
    And apparently you didn’t see the last sentence to my post above. I mention that if I’m paying for cable and/or satelite, then the responsibility lies with me to censor the programs I watch with my kids. And I will fight any extension of government control over that medium.

  • http://www.oregoncommentator.com Timothy

    Ben: Get Tivo or turn the thing off during ads.
    Deoxy: The laws are being enforced, what you people have called for is further regulation over a five-frame shot of a nipple. You can, in fact use the menu on most reasonably new TVs to at least delete stations from the channel list so that simply scrolling won’t show them. Also, v-chip, there’s a law about that too.
    Do I want porn on broadcast? Nope, not really all that interested in porn to begin with and there’s always the internet, but neither do I want a bunch of government regulators telling me what is and isn’t “indecent”. The options for limiting what come into one’s home are there and they are numerous, make use of those before getting all excited that the FCC has decided a nipple constitutes a $500M fine.

  • http://www.corante.com/importance/ Ernest Miller

    Deoxy: “Since you brought up the vchip, etc, there is also something called a VCR (or DVD plyer, or par-per-view, or ….). You can use that technology to watch practically anything… without piping it into MY home.”
    Indeed. You can use a DVD player to watch only content you feel is appropriate for your children. No need to watch broadcast at all. Why should the law privilege censorship instead of free speech?

  • http://www.oregoncommentator.com Timothy

    Ernest: Indeed.

  • Joe

    Joe,
    One more thing – you kep mentioning things we can buy to protect our children – that is, we have to spend our money to keep it OUT. That is not freedom – freedom is the ability to control my own stuff and what comes into my house. I don’t have to justify keeping stuff out of my house or take action to do so. YOU have to take action and/or spend your resources to bring it into your house. That’s why we keep bringing up rentals/videos/DVDs/etc. If you are putting stuff into my house without my persmission (broadcast media is broadcast EVERYWHERE), the onus is on you to get my permission – it is not on me to tell you to take a hike.
    That is, the sytem is “opt in”, not “opt out”.
    And I have already demostrated why “turn the knob” is completely insufficient.
    Timothy,
    I agree that the government shouldn’t regulate cable, stellite, etc.
    but this:
    “One, it’s just a breast, I doubt simply seeing four tenths of a second of nipple flash was more traumatizing to a kid than his/her parents’ overblown reaction to same.”
    That is not your decision – that’s the whole point. You are deciding for me what my child may see. I find that unacceptable. (In this particular situation, I agree that the whole thing was silly, but the point was that it was past the line – ever heard the term “bright line” rules? It’s more important to be able to know what is allowed and what isn’t than to be exactly, perfectly accurate in what’s allowed and what isn’t. Breasts aren’t allowed – it’s not perfect, but there’s no “intent” or other stuff to muck it up or make it hard to know what is or isn’t allowed. That is, the boundary is clearly marked, so you don’t go past it by accident, even if that clear mark is not always in exactly perfectly the right spot.)
    And yes, kids will hear stuff from their friends… eventually. But that doesn’t mean you can come into my house without my permission and say it.

  • Ben

    One more comment: all of this “whatever goes” attitude about what is shown on television is just so indicative of where we are as a society. It’s all about ME and what I want, not about anyone else. It used to be that people looked out for the society as a whole. People without kids would not do certain things because it might set a bad example for the kids next door. Men who cussed would cease doing so in the presence of women and children. There was an overall sense of community responsibility that is sorely lacking today.
    Now, porn should be on NBC because that’s what I want, and you can lock your kids in the basement if you don’t like it. Scared of what your kids might see at a friend’s house? Don’t let them make friends. Better yet, move to a deserted island somewhere if you’re really such a devoted parent! Upset that your kids might see me and my girlfriend humping in the back yard? Tough! Don’t let ‘em go outside, then. Afraid the kiddies might see the porn video playing on the TV in my car, or on the TV in my den in front of the picture window on the front of my house? Get over it.
    These are exactly the same kinds of attitudes that are largely responsible for skyrocketing divorce rates. What is good for the kids is immaterial. It’s all about YOU and how YOU feel; if YOU aren’t happy, then move on — the kids will get over it.
    How sad.

  • Mike

    IF Fox decided to show a Skinemax movie in prime time, then I could see why you would be upset. IT HASN’T HAPPENED!!!
    Wow Joe, have you ever wondered why that hasn’t happened? Could it be the standards we already have in place? But you want to get rid of those standards, and thus by doing that, any broadcast station could then be free to show anything they wanted, including soft core porn.
    So why have you not addressed why it is illegal for children to buy pornographic magazines, but according to you, we should be able to show JJ’s breast on TV?

  • MWB

    Look! A conversation! Thanks to those who have responded civilly to my comment above. And for any who may be disinclined toward civility, I should probably note that I disagree less with Jeff’s position on these issues than I do with his tone.
    Jeff has taken Oliver Willis to task for his “only an idiot would disagree with me” style. I hope he’d be willing to apply the same standard to First Amendment discussions.
    So, to respond to those who addressed my earlier comment:
    richard: “Is there anyone who can possibly claim with a straight face that they don’t know Howard Stern is a garbage mouth? That daytime talk shows are one step below bear-baiting? That radio shock jocks and original cable programming not only contain adult content, that’s their sales pitch?!”
    Underlying your questions are two assumptions that actually support some regulation or guidelines for media content: First, the pervasiveness of media, and second the importance of information about content prior to consumption.
    If Howard is supposed to be so well known, even to people who have never chosen to tune in to his show, then he must be a pretty significant public figure, whose responsibilities should be open for discussion alongside his rights.
    And who has less excuse to complain? The mom in flyover country who was sadly unaware of what’s on late in the evening, or media folks like Stern and Jarvis who are SHOCKED, SHOCKED that America contains people who complain about such material.
    hovig: “It’s entirely reasonable to desire the ability to know in advance the types of material you will be subject to.”
    This is pretty much where I am too.
    Joe: “Since you highlighted a phrase from a Supreme Court justice comparing indecent LANGUAGE to physical assault, could you please explain what actual harm there is to the listener who stumbles upon the Carlin routine? Yes, they were offended. Who the *bleep* cares? For a few seconds the offended person can say “ew” and then change the station. And possibly never listen to that station again. There is absolutely nothing along the lines of physical assault.
    Well, comparing two things doesn’t mean equating them. Justice Stevens uses the comparison to demonstrate that the “change the channel” solution necessarily involves exposure to the harm being debated. You may consider the harm negligible, but others may not, which is why cases involving speech arrive before judges all the time (not just indecency, but libel, defamation, etc.). Disputes arise over these things because our rights don’t exist in a vacuum. The rights of one party collide with the rights of another and things have to be sorted out.
    But you raise a good issue that would be worth discussing: Jeff has said he is a “First Amendment absolutist” but also that he has no problem with government regulation of harmful kinds of speech such as libel, slander, etc. So, is media content never harmful? There’s a world of interesting points to be made on both sides of that debate. I think that conversation would be a worthier pursuit than the current course of Jeff’s First Amendment posts.

  • http://www.oregoncommentator.com Timothy

    Joe: The TV is there with your permission. You are free not to have television. You’re free to do exactly the same thing, rent stuff and only watch what you find family friendly. Why should the law favor severe limitation over open broadcast? The historical tradition in the US is to err on the side of freedom, this isn’t Europe, we have free speech here. Further, hello, the v-chip is MANDATORY in all TVs manufactured in the last five years. Three seconds on the menu, boom, all that naughty stuff is gone. If you’re too lazy to take that much effort, that’s not really my concern.
    I find religious broadcasting pretty offensive most days, I have a major distaste for evangelical Christianity borne of pretty bad church experiences over the years, man it sure would be nice if TBN didn’t come into the house on Sundays…there ought to be a law! No, that’s stupid, I ought to just not watch that crap. And I don’t. I get sick of the ads for local churches, we need a law! No, that’s still stupid, I just don’t watch them. Banishing that which you find offensive opens the door for other nutty crap to go through. I know that’s a slippery-slope argument, but I think we all know that once the government has its hand in something it keeps grabbing for more.

  • Deoxy

    Earnest,
    Read what I wrote about 2-year-olds changing the channel. Even when watching on a video or DVD, changing the channel still works (and the picture and sound are usually fine except for the 2 channeles immediately adjacent to the channel being used for the VCR, and all channels are clear for my DVD).
    The protection of “turning it off” is INSUFFICIENT to allow me to protect my children from stuff being forced into my home. What part of that do you now understand? On private media that is not coming into my home (unencrypted), do whatever you want. On stuff that comes into my home, I should have veto power.
    You do not have the right to intrude upon me. That’s what this is about. No level of convenience for you makes trodding upon my rights OK.

  • Catherine

    I grew up in the age of cable, and I’m here to tell everyone that your kids aren’t going to be screwed up because they heard a bad word on TV. However, there is a good chance that your kid will be screwed up if they get the idea from you that everything is evil and that there are all sorts of things that are not to be discussed; that there are proper ways to behave and any deviation from that is worthy of hysterics and overhauls in legislation. Wow, whatever happened to talking to your kids? Whatever happened to being a good parent? You are never ever going to be able to sheild your child from all bad that is out there, and if you do your child will be handicapped when they have to go out in the world on their own with no knowledge of what is really out there. I went to college with a lot of these kids and you know what? They were the ones drinking every night and sleeping around because they had no idea how to handle the real world. Your job as a parent is to teach them to be discerning and critical. Your job is to teach them right from wrong. I’m not saying that you should actively expose your children to this stuff. I also think there does need to be some regulation of broadcast TV. But I want one of you to tell me three examples of something you would consider to have harmed your child that appeared on BROADCAST television in the last 2 years. Janet’s breast? Anything else? And gay people kissing doesn’t count.

  • worrywart

    Ben, Mike, and especially carsonfire, I applaud you all for twisting the argument even further when it has become apparent that you’re all about imposing your preferences on everyone else (even though you’re screaming that porn is being thrust upon you all of the time). The truth of the matter is we’re talking about decency STANDARDS. Your decency standards are not my decency standards, and quite frankly yours seem to align more closely with the Amish than the rest of the country (in which case, what are you using electricity for anyway).
    It would be imposible to come up with a decency standard that applies to the whole country and your argument essentially boils down to “well, then we should apply the lowest common denominator, then and allow nothing that could possibly be considered offensive.” That, however, doesn’t wash, and it’s even less in line with the law than even MWB would admit.
    The networks are well aware of what is and isn’t indecent, and it comes in the form of ratings. If a whole lot of people are watching it, it becomes very hard to argue that it crosses a line over the COMMUNITY STANDARDS (since the community themselves are watching it). So, all this talk of regulating decency is really just a bunch of crap.
    If you live in a country where your standards don’t match up to the rest of the country, you’re welcome to join an Amish community, no one will complain when you stop watching TV and cut yourself off from the rest of the world. If you want to interact with the real world, then you’re going to have to accept what the rest of us think is acceptible and stop using your kids as human shields in your pointless debate.

  • Mike

    Catherine, the argument here stems from the elimination of rules regarding broadcast TV. Considering those rules are still in place it would be hard-pressed to come up with 3 instances where broadcast TV would have harmed your child. But consiering that you are in favor of some regulation, what exactly is your point? Do you agree with the current standards as they are now, or do you favor removal.
    And note, I am just referring to broadcast TV, not cable or satellite.

  • http://www.corante.com/importance/ Ernest Miller

    Deoxy: Why not disable broadcast entirely and rely exclusively on content which you choose explicitly to bring into your home through the DVD player? Or, don’t teach your children to change the channel, teach them only how to operate the DVD player.
    Of course, we could always eliminate broadcast television all together, which, honestly, wouldn’t be a bad solution in my book.

  • Mike

    Worrwart, your statement is pure bullsh*t! These standards already exist! Don’t twist my arguments here. I am simply stating the current standards as they exist today should continue, however, the government should not extend their reach over cable and other mediums. Don’t give me this Amish community crap.
    And do you really want to find the most common ground of the American population? I would assume that the norm would be right around my views and maybe even more restrictive.

  • SloppyDawg

    I won’t quote the “Howard Stern” post above, but I will venture a guess that it’s the Evil Howard Stern.

  • Catherine

    Mike,
    My problem is that people are trying (and succeeding) to change the rules around preventing “indecency” on broadcast TV because of nipplegate. I don’t think broadcast TV, before or after nipplegate, was dangerous to children. Therefore, I think the regulations that were in place were just fine. Exponentially increasing the fines is a complete overreaction to one overblown event. If there was some systematic pattern of stations blatantly ignoring the FCC’s rules (whatever they are) then I could see that there would be some need to change the laws. Mike, Ben, and others in favor of censorship, what exactly do you think the laws should be, since obviously you think what we have is lacking? And which one of you gets to decide what’s indecent and what’s not? I still haven’t gotten an answer to my question: what, other than Janet’s boob, was aired on broadcast TV is the last 2 years that would harm your child? Since I think the answer is NOTHING, why do we need to change the laws?

  • Mike

    My problem is that people are trying (and succeeding) to change the rules around preventing “indecency” on broadcast TV because of nipplegate.
    How? The standards aren’t changing, it’s the fines that are increasing for violating those standards.
    Mike, Ben, and others in favor of censorship, what exactly do you think the laws should be, since obviously you think what we have is lacking?
    Obviously, you have not read what I’ve written above. I like the current standards where they are, and I see no reason to manipulate them as such. However, I don’t have any issue with the increase in fines, these big companies can afford it and can put things in place (7 second delay) to avoid violating the current standards.
    I still haven’t gotten an answer to my question: what, other than Janet’s boob, was aired on broadcast TV is the last 2 years that would harm your child? Since I think the answer is NOTHING, why do we need to change the laws?

    Again, I obviously can’t answer that question because I agree with the status quo, however those arguing with me want the rules changed, acually, they want them eliminated!!! So most of this discussion refers to what broadcast TV would be like in that case (no restrictions), not what TV is like today.

  • Joe

    Good points Catherine. You said very clearly what I was trying to put out – that the rules HAVE changed (the fines exponentially increased) due to one specific instance of JJ’s nipple, and NOT because there is soft core porn on NBC. The respondents on the other side continue to bring up the straw man argument of allowing pornography, when all that we’re trying to say is the overreaction to the 4/10th second showing of a breast has resulted in: increased fines, increased scrutiny by the FCC, and increased fear among broadcasters (hence, the Saving Private Ryan decision). Next on the list of some congressmen is cable and satellite, as was in the newspaper JUST TODAY! I’m not fighting for no regulation where porn may or may not be allowed on television – that’s another issue entirely. All I’m arguing is that one breast or one curse word do not amount to one iota of concern about raising our children and yet the result of the public over-reaction to those events has caused this chill over broadcasting that is, by its very nature, threatening free speech in America.

  • Mike

    Next on the list of some congressmen is cable and satellite, as was in the newspaper JUST TODAY!
    NO KIDDING!! Maybe because the idiot said it yesterday! Jeff blogged about it below. I disagree on all points with that Senator’s point of view. And the rules have not changed! Fines are simply a way of enforcing the rules.
    I’m not fighting for no regulation where porn may or may not be allowed on television – that’s another issue entirely. All I’m arguing is that one breast or one curse word do not amount to one iota of concern about raising our children
    But where do you draw the line? Your arguments leads to a slippery slope because your interpretation is not the same as someone else’s. Which is why I like the standards where they are for broadcast TV.
    and yet the result of the public over-reaction to those events has caused this chill over broadcasting that is, by its very nature, threatening free speech in America.
    Talk about a straw man. This is hardly the case. This is not threatening free speech in America, give us a break. Last I checked there is no movement towards elimination of free speech, unless of course you are referring to speech codes on college campuses and campaign finance reform, but that’s something different entirely (although much more of a free speech issue than standards for broadcast TV).

  • Joe

    The slippery slope goes in both directions, Mike. Not just towards more porn on TV, but in the other direction too – towards more regulation of what we watch on TV. We’re already seeing it when the government is considering going after satellite and cable (which you claim to be against). What we’re not seeing is any evidence that any company anywhere is trying to get porn on broadcast television. The companies associated with Janet’s breast were in fact tripping over themselves trying to distance themselves from the incident. You’re the one bringing up the straw man of pornography, not me.
    Make no mistake, this entire debate is an attempt of a small segment of the population who thinks that their morals are better and more important than yours or mine. That’s what gets Jeff and Catherine and Timothy and me so upset. We don’t want your kids to see porn, but while we see no attempt whatsoever for anyone to try to force porn down your kids’ throats, what we do see is a government trying to force its morals down our throats. I don’t understand how you can sit by blindly and support that.

  • Mike

    Joe, I don’t claim to be against that extension, I am, nice attempt at snark. James Lileks sums up my viewpoint on this particular issue of standards regarding broadcast TV and cable when he says:
    Think of it this way: broadcast TV and radio is the front porch; cable and movies and satellite radio is the living room with the curtains down. We can all censure the man who stands on his own porch and moons the world while employing the full panoply of English cursewords. We have no business parting the curtains to see if he

  • http://www.oddharmonic.org/ Melissa

    I respectfully disagree with the argument about small children changing channels.
    We have a small TV, made in 1990, that my four-year-old uses to watch PBS and videos. Its setup allows individual channels to be added or deleted from the selection the channel up/down buttons will cycle through, so just the channel used by the VCR and PBS are in that selection. The TV has buttons on its front panel for the setup menu, but I covered them with a piece of hard plastic that has indentations on the side against the front panel to prevent the buttons underneath from being depressed. It’s not foolproof, but a similar TV would be quite inexpensive and I made the plastic cover with easily purchased craft tools.
    The more recently manufactured primary TV in our household has an option in its setup called “panel lock”. It disables the buttons on the front of the TV so it can only be controlled by the remote, which we then keep out of my daughter’s reach.

  • Joe

    Mike – Sorry if I’m lumping you in with the unenlightened posters here. Perhaps you need to reconsider who you are siding with. I didn’t say and haven’t said to abolish the FCC. All I’ve said is that there was nothing ACTUALLY broadcast in the past year or two that would require a huge increase in fines, threats of license revocations, a re-defining of a ruling on whether or not Bono saying the F word was indecent, the resultant chill on broadcasters’ freedom (as evidenced by Saving Private Ryan), and now a call for an extension to satellite and cable (which you ARE against). This has all actually happened.
    I know I am repeating myself, but I’ll try one last time. Without mentioning a slippery slope or a straw man, could you please explain to me what has ACTUALLY been broadcast in the past 2 years that was damaging enough to children to cause all these changes I just cited?

  • Mike

    Specific examples of what has been broadcast would be next to impossible to cite, I don’t watch enough TV and I’m not easily offended by much (I would be labeled as non-pc). And your question would apply differently to each and every person you ask. I may laugh at something that someone else feels is damaging to their child. My daughter is not old enough to really comprehend television right now, so I don’t know what I would use as an example. But I’m sure there are many out there that could reference certain things.
    I don’t think the changes you cite are indicative of some great chill or attack on free speech. I feel that any utterance of the word f*ck is indecent if its on broadcast TV, which it has always been. Not airing Saving Private Ryan (unedited) during prime time is not a frontal assault on the first amendment. And the extension of oversight to cable and satellite was presented by a whacko Senator from Alaska, that’s going nowhere. So I don’t connect your reasoning to your question.

  • http://www.corante.com/importance/ Ernest Miller

    What is all so strange about this is that the Supreme Court has ruled you can walk around with a jacket that says “Fuck the Draft,” but it can’t be broadcast over the air. Very strange.

  • Deoxy

    Recent examples? EASY:
    NYPD Blue (I believe it was that show) – naked woman from mostly behind, obviously trying to seduce the man in fron tof her – and that’s just the still I’ve seen of it, as I don’t watch that show.
    Desperate Housewives football game opener/ad, similar to previous.
    Saving Private Ryan
    That’s all off the top of my head, and, as I personally watch very little TV, I’m sure I could easily come up with much, much more.
    Melissa – Not sufficient. My daughter defeated those little plastic things at 18 months (she’s a smart one). Also, not all TV’s have console lock. Oh, and by age three, I suspect she’ll be able to reprogram the silly thing (to say nothing of the average 8 year old, much less remote controls, which will generally go to any channel punched in on the number pad).
    Basically, this all boils down to that comment about the front porch. We as a society have standards (no nudity in public, for instance); go on, make an idiot of yourself trying to deny it. Most people think that braodcast television essentially functions as a public place (and there is law that makes this explicit). You can do whatever you want in the privacy of your home (and on bvcable/satellite/whatever). Demanding that the law actually be enforced in public behaviour or that the law be changed are the only 2 rational positions, and the vast majority of people choose the 1st.
    You have some large 4-digit number of private channels to choose from and watch whatever you want (regulation of them has NO chance of passing, nor would it survive challenge if by some miracle it did). Leave a little for public usage.
    Earnest – yeah, you’re right about that. One difference (though I’m not sure it makes a huge difference) is that very small children can’t read. Another is that a single shirt (or even sevral of them) won’t reach nearly as many people as one broadcast. But it still doesn’t really make sense.