King Prig

King Prig

: Well, well, what a banner week: First Michael Powell feels compelled to defend himself against the rising storm of criticism of his censorship and unconstitutional actions. Now his puppetmaster, the most frightening man in America, the prude of prudes, King Prig, L. Brent Bozell III, feels compelled to launch a personal attack on little old me. I guess we must be doing something right, eh?

Bozell is the self-appointed head of the self-created Parents Television Council — the proof that you can print a letterhead and end up as a spokesman for anything on cable news — and the guy who wants to singlehandedly censor all media in America to his lowest denominator.

But let me tell you something, Mr. Bozell:

I am a parent and you do not speak for me.

I am a Christian and you do not speak for me. Let me really scare you and tell you that I not only got to church every Sunday, I sing in the choir, I serve as a head of the church’s organizing body, I preach sermons, I teach Sunday school. But I also like Howard Stern and Desperate Housewives. Pardon me while I dodge the lightning bolts.

And I am an American but you do not speak for me. This is a nation built on free speech and a belief in tolerance and the value of the marketplace of ideas and the blessing of diversity. You are against all that. You try to stop the rest of us from watching what you think we should not watch. You disdain and condemn your fellow Americans and our culture because it does not match your idea of what it should be. That, sir, seems distinctly unAmerican to me.

You think you have some God-given right to tell us what we should and should not do. You do not.

But you know what? I think you should be able to watch whatever you want to watch, even if it is the 700 Club with its hate and homophobia. I would not presume to try to get it taken off the air for hate speech. I simply turn the channel. You should do the same.

And so now I’ll get to the second fisking in two days (that’s fisking not fisting, sir, a bloggers’ word; please call off your complaint factory) with my response to King Prig. Note that I cannot do this on Bozell’s site because he does not allow comments. I’ve already had a dialogue with one of his people in my comments and I continue that here because, Bozell, I’m an American and I believe in the free marketplace of ideas. So, to Bozell’s “column”:

Ever since exit-pollsters discovered a significant chunk of voters were casting their ballots based on which candidate stood for moral values – and most of those who chose that reason for their vote said they picked Republicans – the Hollywood crowd has tried to pick the idea apart, as conflicted, even ridiculous.

This is fun already. First, you know damned well — oops, goshdarned well — that exit poll in question was full of crap. In fact, you know what should really scare you (based on your own skewed mathematical analysis below): It should scare you that 100 percent of voters did not say they valued moral values. What about those other 78 percent, Brent? Are they all Democrats?

But, of course, the real truth is that all 100 percent of those voters do have moral values and value morals; they simply don’t all have your moral values. And that is what makes America great. That is why this country was founded. That is the essence of America.

For you to say as you do here that morality = GOP is the clearest indication of your true agenda.

The anything-goes gang is suggesting we live in a pretty hypocritical country if we can profess our desire for moral leadership and make our number-one smash on television the ABC smut soap “Desperate Housewives.”

You call it a smut soap. I call it a fun show. Fine. You change the channel and I won’t. That’s why we have tons of channels now. Go enjoy something else. Watch Bambi. I’ll watch Desperate Housewives. Just leave me alone and we’re both happy. Oh, but you don’t want to leave me alone. You want to tell me what I can and cannot watch. I keep forgetting. You’re our self-appointed censor. The unAmerican.

When the red states profess a great concern for moral values and then embrace sleazy shows, that’s hypocrisy, is it not? No, it’s not. The argument is disingenuous. Television today is so splintered, with so many choices, that a hit show – even a number one show – doesn’t translate into broad (and never mind majority) appeal. “Desperate Housewives” attracts less than 25 million viewers a week. Out of an estimated U.S. population of 290 million people, that’s less than one in ten Americans that cares for this allegedly massive hit show.

Oh, this keeps getting more fun. So you want to play a numbers game? You want to say that 25 million people don’t matter? Then how about your three people, Brent? Or your 23? Or your 4,003? If you want to play a numbers game, you’ll lose. A helluva — oops, heckuva — lot more people watch and enjoy Desperate Housewives than give a rat’s rump about your weltanschauung or come to your complaint factory. But, of course, that’s not the point. The point is that we all should get to chose what we want to watch — if you and your FCC henchmen will let us.

That fraction of the country is a very lucrative fraction for ABC and its advertisers, but political and pop-culture theorists are drawing wild conclusions about an America riddled with hypocrisy with some rather addled mathematics.

No, sir, that is called capitalism. Here in America, we value capitalism. We value the marketplace. We respect it. But, of course, being unAmerican, you would not understand that. Yes, there are more than enough millions of Americans who enjoy watching Desperate Housewives and more than enough marketers who want to reach those smart and good citizens of this great country of ours that it is lucrative. And you presume to want to stop them. You presume to think you’re better than all 25 million of them. You want to insult and reject them. Who died and made you God?

By the same token, a show like NBC’s “Will and Grace” is ranked 20th so far this season, averaging about 15 million viewers. That’s very good ratings for a TV show these days, but it’s awfully flimsy to take those 15 million Americans – five percent of the population — and say, voila, America favors gay marriage.

No, buddy boy — oops, pardon me for being so familiar; I hope you’re secure enough in your manhood to allow me that intimacy — all this shows is that (1) many more millions of people have a sense of humor than belong to your made-up organization and (2) we are a tolerant country, an open country, a country that accepts and, yes, celebrates the differences in people that make this country great. Oh, but I keep forgetting, you are unAmerican.

Yes, we know what you think of gay people. Here’s a quote from one of your columns: “The producers of ‘The Reagans’ are Craig Zadan and Neal Meron, who

  • Ian

    This is an interesting debate, and I’m following it with interest.
    That said, it seems to me that recently you’ve crossed a fine line from being passionate about your subject to being shrill.
    I do come down on your side of the fence in this debate, but surely you must realise that by allowing your responses to become so heated, you give your opponent the opportunity to dismiss you as irrational and blinded by emotion, in addition to handing them material that can be selectively quoted to paint you in a bad light.
    If you want to rebut the guy, my humble advice is to write as much rabble-rousing rhetoric as you want, then save it for a day then read it again. Then post it on the Internet, if you still want to, once you’ve calmed down.

  • “Jane, you ignorant slut…”
    Frankly, I like the anger and sarcasm. At least it’s hot of the press. Save the muted prose for Wired or whoever asks you to write something beyond buzzmachine.
    And now that the name-calling is officially underway, perhaps we can get a little horse race coverage from the MSM.

  • Ian

    Well yeah, there’s no denying that it pleases those in the audience spoiling for a fight, but it doesn’t help maintain a coherent debate. He’s not going to change the mind of Bozell by posting this, so the name of the game is to win over the spectators, which in this case includes those in the MSM covering the debate.
    The reason I posted this is because anger, sarcasm and reciprocal personal attacks are likely to turn off as many people as they turn on.
    I’m not advocating the muting of anything – passionless blogs are boring – but knee-jerk answering of fire with fire is what makes Crossfire, Hardball, and mailing lists so useless for political discussion.
    In any case, it’s his blog, he can post what he wants, and I don’t have to read it if I don’t want to. Freedom baby! That’s what it’s all about.

  • Ian,
    If I remember my history at all I remember that the original debates over the First Amendment were just as “heated” back at the beginning of our nation’s history. To say being passionate in a debate is bad is disingenuous. If you’re not passionate about what you believe in, your debate, and therefore cause, is lost. And who cares if you turn off other people by the passion? That just means they aren’t committed to the fight.
    I’m with Jeff in his stance, and will stand shoulder to shoulder with him against these Boxos, er, Bozells.

  • Brilliant Jeff and a worthy target – I only wish you’d have launched such a vitriolic attack before the election and allowed it to buoy your lukewarm support for Kerry. Bozell is the intellectual backing to the Bush movement, and Powell is his hand of moralist action. When Powell acts, it is Bush. You know, sometimes a vote against this kind of government, this kind of stifling holier-than-thou politicking, is the most vital action in a democracy. You could have moved thousands of fence-sitters!

  • Michael

    Where was the personal attack?

  • John Thorpe

    When will we just have a libertarian uprising and be done with the damn thing? You’d get Republicans like me, true “liberals” and the rest of us who insist that the Founders weren’t kidding. Let the Christian Right and the Fringe Left fight over the crumbs.

  • Read the whole thing and now I’m exhausted, Jeff. Guess that was part of the point. Good work, fella.
    Your pal

  • Tom O.

    I really enjoyed your point-by-point rebuttal of the Bozemeister. The trick seems to be in knowing when righteousness becomes self-righteousness, and Bozer has quite definitely crossed that line, and you do a good job of calling him on it. The push-pull between the forces of legislated morality and personal freedom is not going to end anytime soon, and to a degree I’m saddened by how heavily entrenched both sides have become – the sure way to force change is to resist it – but as long as we can keep lines of communication open, and a dialog going, the possibility of finding common ground and compromise will remain open. The question is whether we can collectively find common ground and work out those compromises before our efforts to defend and enforce our entrenched beliefs wind up destroying ourselves and everything around us in the process. The jury is still out on that one…

  • Right on Jeff Jarvis.

  • Kim

    Jeff, your reply was perfect right down to the high heels.

  • Del

    Great job, Jeff…way to put that Bozo in his place.

  • Jim

    and this series of quotes from, Theo Van Gogh:
    ‘It must be a relief to p.c. thinkers that there are also totalitarian Christian mongrels.’
    ‘One cannot speak with enough disdain about believers who turn to a judge to win a debate.’
    ‘Also, I am convinced a civilized society distinguishes itself from barbarian societies in the way it allows its subjects to make a fool out of God or Allah. This is a right we will have to earn by fighting for it in eternity.’
    ‘It’s a true honor to be sued by followers of that rotten fish from Nazareth.’

  • Congratulations, Jeff, on a smackdown well administered, and well deserved. Fuck that guy and his campaign to force America to be like him.
    I mean, seriously, how do you grow up in America and not know the definition of the word “freedom”?

  • Right on Jeff.
    Parents, please exercise your right to turn the channel, or shut off the television and read to your children. While you are being a responsible Parent for your children, please keep in mind that WE are not your children.
    Our Nation’s founders clearly valued diversity. Here are some examples.
    The Bill of Rights directs (I) Congress to make no law against establishing your religion or ours;
    OR abridging your freedom of speech or ours,
    OR freedom of your press (print, television, radio, Internet, eh?) or of ours,
    and that (IX) The enumeration…of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people (the people, that’s ALL of us).
    What this means to us and we dare say “the public will”, is that the FCC is REQUIRED to allow the garbage on TV.
    And oh what garbage. 90% of what’s on is. Shopping channels :-), horror movies, Reality TV, Ivana’s $20 candy bar on The Apprentice. Desperate Housewives? Can’t say, haven’t seen it.
    But Parents, choose something else in the privacy of your own home. We do.
    Be American, celebrate diversity, and mind your own business not ours. -7

  • Jeff, great post! Great rebuttal!
    Reading this made me think of the words of Kierkegaard:
    “A partisan of the most rigid orthodoxy… knows it all, he bows before the holy, truth is for him an ensemble of ceremonies, he talks about presenting himself before the throne of God, of how many times one must bow, he knows everything the same way as does the pupil who is able to demonstrate a mathematical proposition with the letters ABC, but not when they are changed to DEF. He is therefore in dread whenever he hears something not arranged in the same order.”
    I’m not trying to attack Bozell here, merely trying to shed some light on what type of people that comprise the “moral majority”.
    These folks don’t have an open world-view that allows them to ever see shades of gray. They are filled with dread and anxiety of the highest order: death. They have chosen to deal with mortality by blindly following a belief system that maps out their entire existence. Of course it starts early, in Genesis 2.3: if Adam eats of the fruit of the tree of knowledge, God tells him “Thou shalt surely die”.
    There is a great quote by Aristotle: The sign of an intelligent man is someone who can entertain a thought without accepting it.
    Jeff, thank you for helping to keep the debate open and honest! Keep up the great work – Sunday night wouldn’t be the same without Desperate Housewives… which Mr. Bozell and his pals would surely love to see removed from the “public” airwaves.

  • Whoops! My mistake, make that Geneis 2.17…

  • maggie

    Jeff, You go. Not all of us are cookie-cutter conservatives. There’s something wrong with ANYONE using government power to enforce their moral code on America as a whole. And I wish these folks would stop hiding behind children. These are the folks that spent years ridiculing Dems for doing things “for the children”. These are also the same folks who put oral sex in the Nightly news broadcasts. That’s what I had to turn off so my daughter wouldn’t be exposed to graphic sex talk. I’m no Dem, and with all the moral nannies out there I’m no REp either.

  • Way to go on this Jeff. You know that this guy is head of the Media Research Center too, right? I’d have to say it ain’t too far off the mark to say his “research” about liberal bias is as shoddy as his “research” about boobies on tv.

  • Dugger

    I really agree more with your (Jeff’s) side, but having said that, the “fisking” was weak and seemed to amount to little more than ideological taunting. And taunting is OK, but it seems to me that if you are going to sneer at where Bozell and his co-horts draw the line, it is incumbent upon you to not only state where that line should be drawn but also defend it. And you’ll find the minute you draw that line, you to will become the du jour “fill-in-the-blank o phobe” of the day and the holier than thou crowd will trample themselves running to the keyboard to decry your backwardness.
    Yes indeed. Where do YOU draw the line?

  • [tapping toes, twiddling thumbs]

  • john

    Re Bozelll and Will and Grace…See a story in New York Times page A 18 on market research of voters. “One of the shows most popular with Republicans, especially Republican women ages 18 to34, turned out to be “Will & Grace”, the sitcom about gay life in New York. As a result, while Mr. Bush was shoring up his conservative credentials by supporting a constitutional amendment against same-sex marriage, his advertising team was buying time on a program that promotes gay culture.”

  • ML

    As a Christian I find the whole argument very interesting. I always point out to people though that people like Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson do not speak for me and are hardly representative of the Christians I know, and what I believe to be Christian.
    That said I do notice a lot of name calling against these people and that basically signifies that their opinions are being refuted because of who they are; not what the opinions are. I think that’s kind of what the first commenter was trying to get across.
    Lastly, one comment was this: “They have chosen to deal with mortality by blindly following a belief system that maps out their entire existence. Of course it starts early, in Genesis 2.3: if Adam eats of the fruit of the tree of knowledge, God tells him “Thou shalt surely die”.” That comment is totally wrong. I won’t bore you with all the particulars–but really not even close.

  • Will

    I basically agree with Jeff’s conclusions about freedom in the media — consumers should be able to choose as they see fit.
    However, if someone sends me a form email and I agree with it and forward it in to the FCC as a complaint, isn’t that a legitimate form of speech? You denigrate the 1/2 million people who did this in response to boob-gate, but I don’t think that’s fair. Clearly the people that forward these emails are people that 1) care about this issue and 2) agree with the basic premise of the letter. Just because they’re to lazy or uninspired to write their own letter doesn’t imply that they don’t exist. Thus your repeated accusation that there are only 3 (or 4003) of such people is rather silly.

  • GM

    Amen, brother! It’s all about the market. This should act as an object lesson to the normally interference-prone left.

  • Ryan Schweitzer

    Ok, I know I’m gonna sound like the lone troll here, but Mr. Jarvis’ rebuttal just reeks of hubris, arrogance, and downright over-jingoistic greedy high-horsed American cockiness.
    Granted, I love the USA, and I’m proud to be an American, which has freedoms unmatchable by other countries. But it’s people like Mr. Jarvis here that makes me ashamed to be an American sometimes.
    Plus his sarcastic taunting and mocking of Mr. Bozell really makes Mr. Jarvis look *really immature*. Real classy, Jeff. Why don’t you go back to elementary school while you’re at it?
    I don’t care how allegedly “self-righteous” Mr. Bozell is, what he and his organization is doing is right and noble. At least there’s someone standing up against the moronic crap on TV.
    At least Jeff agrees that they have the right in America to be so-called “prudes”, much as he has the freedom to spout out about how crappy TV programming is sooo beneficial to our sacred American economy.
    I feel that the PTC is a legit org, contrary to Mr. Jarvis’s snide opinion (“proof that anyone with a letterhead can have an organization”). At least they’re doing some good for society, even though they do get a little carried away, bordering on the so-called “prudery”
    Mr. Jarvis is pointing the finger at Brent about.
    It’s not prudery Jeff, it’s called decency and righteousness, something you don’t believe in, in the blind search of capitalist prosperity.
    And what really chafes me about his rebuttal is his little snide & snarky comment that 25 million Americans watching a crap show like Desperate Housewives matters waaaaaaaay astronomically more than the +-4000 people associated with the PTC who complained to the FCC about the show. Because it’s Good Capitalism(tm), you know.
    The truth is is that these 25 million people really don’t matter, it’s the 265 million others who don’t care for such a crap show, myself included. Mainly because these 265 million people are the real people, the real majority who aren’t thje 25 million sorry pathetic lemmings who feel that God is in the TV. TV isn’t life. Life itself is. TV is for morally and intellectually-deficient losers who are easily molded by the capitalist powers-that-be and need a life, so they substitute TV for having a life, as well as TV being the true Opiate for the Asses(tm). Adam Smith would be proud.
    265 million people are the ones who really matter. Because they’ll spend their money on more worthwhile things, not on the business who advertise on Desparate Housewives (depending on how where these 265 mil. see advertising in general). The whole American economy is a great deal bigger than 25 million drooling, TV-gazing sheep.
    Real people don’t watch TV. They create art, spend time with friends or family, read, play music, make films/video (not porn, mind you), write poetry or literature, and generally follow the common good of humanity, unlike most characters on TV.
    But oh dear me, I forgot that creating art, reading or playing music doesn’t make money, it doesn’t pull a profit, or is not The Sacred Bottom Line’s slaveb*tch. Only portrayals of what is wrong in humanity and crass, white trash lowbrowness in general (are you listening, Jerry Springer?), displayed on a Cathode Ray Tube, rakes in that Holy, Almighty Dough ™.
    Gotta love the human race and all it’s deficiencies (like creating crap TV included), which is what makes capitalism so annoying (and unfortunately sucessful) to me, since it likes to play off the lowest common denominator of man, where the buying power is, unfortunately. A free market really allows humanity to sink real low.
    Granted, capitalism is *fundamentally good*, it has done a great deal of good for society, but it’s subsequent abuse mentioned above by shameless pandering to the ne’er-do-wells really has tarnished it and left a bad taste in my mouth about it.
    Even though it’s mainly liberal pablum, watch the movie “The Corporation” and you’ll see how capitalism, a good institution, has been abused in the past & present.
    Adam Smith, and Adam & Eve, you should be ashamed.
    And that is why I am also ashamed to be an American, and a human as well.
    PS–Mr Jarvis, you mention that you are a Christian, but you are a fan of Desperate Housewives and Howard Stern? You sir, are a hypocrite. A true Christian knows when to steer clear of sin, which is what those two promote, or at least showcase.

  • HH

    Oy, the agenda of Mr. O couldn’t be any more transparent. Use this as an excuse to bash the MRC to prop up the already-tattered reputation of David Brock in comparison…

  • mkat69

    PTC=PMRC, at least the current equivalent. I agree with the whole case against Bozell and his harpies. Much like the PMRC did nothing in overall effectiveness except increase record sales of albums with warning labels, the PTC will probably do nothing except point out where to find the so-called smut and increase the ratings of those shows. Music artists have not reigned themselves in because they are afraid of not selling, so why would tv be scared? i too am a parent, and i prefer that bozell rot in hell before speaking for me. like most things in this country, the targets are always the big ones, overlooking everything else and being biased in the meantime. if he and the PTC truly want tv cleaned up, let’s get all shows cleaned up. most sitcoms air in what the FCC considers “family time”, before 9 or 10pm, yet i cringe if my two year old or five year old are in the room and one of these shows spews forth ‘bitch’, ‘ass’, or a similar (i assume) FCC safe word. i don’t want to hear those words coming out of my kids mouth right now, but i’m sure they will someday. i hope to keep it in the distant future, but i sure as hell am not going to tell someone else they can’t watch the shows. yet the PTC focuses on shows i’m sure some people could care less about, showing extreme bias as expected. i agree, there is a simple solution if you don’t like the show, TURN IT OFF.

  • Mandi

    Jarvis you are awesome!!!
    I like freedom of speech, even if I don’t like what I am hearing.