The Daily Stern: Afternoon edition

The Daily Stern: Afternoon edition

: DO YOU REMEMBER SEX? In Salon, Dan Savage (sometimes described, he says, as the gay Howard Stern) is upset about Howard Stern:

No, what distresses me about Stern’s predicament is that civil libertarians, lefties and sex radicals aren’t furious and distressed, too, and that they’re not rallying to his side — and they should be….

Perhaps this is a “First they came for Howard Stern …” piece. And it’s time for those of us who value the freedom of adults to speak in public, and value the idea that not everything on radio or television (or the Internet) has to be suitable for children, to speak up.

He says that because of the AIDS pandemic, we had to get used to discussing details of sex that weren’t discussed before. But now the nannies are trying to get rid of all that talk, forcing everyone back into one closet or another.

So now Howard Stern is in trouble for talking about sex like an adult, for using humor, and for doing it on the radio — something he’s been doing for more than a decade, something he was celebrated for doing until very recently. Stern didn’t say or do anything obscene — not by the standards of the communities where his show is aired, and certainly not by the standards of the people who tune in to his program.

: COMMUNITY STANDARDS? BUT WHAT COMMUNITY? That quote raises a fascinating issue I danced around the other day: What is our community? Is it New Jersey, for me? Or is it the Internet? Or is it Howard Stern fans? Or is it my blogroll?

It matters.

The other day, I linked to a Boston Globe story on John (Boobs Not Bombs) Ashcroft’s war against pornography that said the Justice Department ordered a porn tape made in California from another market just so it could be tried before a, presumably, more prudish jury. And in that story, the question came up: Which community standards will be used to judge this? California’s? Ohio’s? The Internet’s?

In this day and age, the concept of “community” as a geography is utterly out-of-date. Thus community standards should mean my community, whatever it is. In the gay community, you’ll hear different talk about sex than in the straight community. In the hip-hop community, you’ll hear different reaction to the n-word than in the KKK community. And the could all be just blocks apart.

Community standards is outmoded. Free speech is not.