Posts from June 28, 2004

The Daily Stern

The Daily Stern

: Adam Thierer of the Cato Institute writes in the conservative National Review that the Senate had its head up its ass — well, he didn’t quite say that; I did — when it sneaked in its indecent indecency bill last week. First, he argues that playing nanny is not government’s job:

Parents like me should be rejoicing that our judicious and morally upstanding leaders are taking steps to protect our children from the filth in this world.

But there is another, less popular way of looking at the issue. That is, whatever happened to personal responsibility?

I have a serious problem with calling in Uncle Sam to play the role of surrogate parent and I would hope some others out there do too. Particularly troubling to me is the fact that so many conservatives, who rightly preach the gospel of personal responsibility about most economic issues, seemingly give up on this notion when it comes to cultural issues. Art, music, and speech are fair game for the Ministry of Culture down at the FCC, but don’t let them regulate our cable rates!

He goes on to reveal the corner the censors are painting themselves — and us — into, for their primary rationale is that broadcast is pervasive and that’s why it is excused from the First Amendment to the Constitution. Except broadcast isn’t pervasive anymore; it’s dying. Cable, satellite, and the Internet are pervasive. Does that mean they have to/want to regulate the speech on all those media? Uh-oh.

As traditional broadcasting dies a slow but certain death, do we start censoring “indecent” speech on cable, satellite, the Internet, and everything that follows?

In a free society, different people will have different values and tolerance levels when it comes to speech, and government should not impose the will of some on all. When it comes to minding the kids, I’ll take responsibility for teaching my own about the realities of this world, including the unsavory bits. You worry about yours. Let’s not call in the government to do the job for us.


In defense of the taste of the masses

In defense of the taste of the masses

: I was a TV critic during broadcast TV’s — and American pop culture’s — true golden age, when television was filled with good shows and those shows were also the most popular, proving — against all popular snarking — that Americans, the masses, do have good taste.

TV has changed but that doesn’t mean we’ve lost our taste.

Kurt Andersen wrote/spoke about this on Studio 360 this week.

Television in the 90s was defined by smart, well-written prime-time network sitcoms like Roseanne, Murphy Brown, Seinfeld and, of course, The Simpsons.

But in the 90s the best shows were also by and large the most highly rated shows. That had never happened before. And mainstream TV was arguably superior to mainstream motion pictures. That had never happened before either.

Looking at the Nielsen top 10 in the 90s actually used to made me feel a little better about my fellow Americans. Western civilization wasn’t necessarily in decline.

But that golden age, like all golden ages, was too good to last. In 1999, among the top shows were still ER, Frasier, Friends, 60 Minutes and The X-Files. But then within just a couple of seasons, the highest-rated programs were mostly,

A place for my stuff, cont.

A place for my stuff, cont.

: Blogfriend Rex Hammock just sent some amazing links continuing the wishful thinking about getting a place for all my (and your) digital stuff:

: Rex found this remarkable new service made available to every resident of Indiana (finally, a good reason to live there!): SimIndiana gives hooked-up Hoosiers free “word processor, e-mail, contact manager, spreadsheet, personal information manager, and file manager” and — far more important than that — a place for all that stuff:

If you create a document in SimWord

The Stern bloc

The Stern bloc

: The Times writes about the New Democratic poll (days after we did) and its discovery of a Stern voting bloc:

Unfortunately for Republicans, a lot of these voters tune their radios to Mr. Stern, who has been crusading to oust President Bush. Mr. Stern is angry at the Federal Communications Commission, which cracked down on stations that broadcast a show of his that discussed anal sex and what the commission called “repeated flatulence sound effects.”

Mr. Stern, who has backed Republican candidates in the past, has a mother lode of swing voters in his audience, according to a poll by the New Democrat Network, an advocacy group. Its pollster, Mark Penn, calculates that this “Stern Gang” of swing voters makes up 4 percent of the likely voters this year, nearly as large as the entire Hispanic vote in 2000.

But one bit of solace for Republicans is that Mr. Stern’s listeners go to church frequently, which tends to correlate with voting Republican. The poll showed that Mr. Stern’s listeners were slightly more likely than nonlisteners to call themselves born-again Christians and were three times more likely to attend church daily. The pollsters did not ask why they went to church after listening to Mr. Stern, so there is no way to calculate how many were performing an act of contrition.

The transfar in Iraq

The transfar in Iraq

: By now you all know that power was transferred in Iraq, ahead of sked.

Stuart Hughes beat all the big guys breaking the news on his blog.