Ted Stevens, our senator from Iran

Ted Stevens, our senator from Iran

: The Reuters report on Sen. Ted Stevens abhorrently unconstitutional attempt to extend government censorship to cable contains some mind-boggling quotes from him and his House cohort (my emphases):

Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Ted Stevens said he would push legislation this year to accomplish that goal and House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Joe Barton said he would back it if it does not violate free speech rights.

“Cable is a much greater violator in the indecency area,” Stevens, from Alaska, told the National Association of Broadcasters, which represents hundreds of local television and radio affiliates. “I think we have the same power to deal with cable as over-the-air” broadcasters.

“There has to be some standard of decency,” he said, but noted that “no one wants censorship.”

Stevens cited the discussion of masturbation and sex toys during prime time television as one example of content that bothered him. He told reporters he would extend the restrictions to premium channels like HBO as well.

If we can work out the constitutional questions, I’d be supportive of that,” Barton of Texas told reporters later at the conference. “I think they ought to play, to the extent possible, by the same rules.” …

Getaloada these loads: They know this is unconstitutional. But they propose it anyway to get publicity and votes.

They’re gaming the Constitution.

: I love this: 3Martini says we need a new bumpersticker:

I’m an adult. I watch cable. And I vote.

: Davenetics issues the same warning I always warn when these people want to expand censorship:

Let’s see, if they have the power to “deal with” cable and satellite, I wonder which medium might be dealt with next?

: John Thorpe adds:

I will put it as clearly as I can — in case the old dingbat Senator cannot understand it. This is not why we elected you. We elected you to cut taxes, fix the entitlements, and kill terrorists — and not in that order. That’s it. No one elected you to make sure that some busybody housewife in Ames, Iowa isn’t offended because Bart Simpson said “shit” or whatever the outrage du jour is this week.

: Note that one of Barton’s top contributors is Clear Channel.

: LATER: See Dan Gillmor, who also sees unfortunate similaries between Stevens’ reign and that in Maylasia.

  • Part of Ted Stevens’ and other recidivists’ difficulties stem from their being accustomed to being generally ignored when they spout. It’s only because blogs are universally taking note when these relics make outrageous statements like the ones that threaten censorship of cable tv, that they are being held to any account of their meanderings. Of course, the MSM would have ignored this nonsense and gone on to ‘important’ topics like Michael Jackson’s witness list.
    Ted Stevens will probably retire his PR department.
    Today’s washpost.com has a suggestion that PBS is an anacronism, and public support should be withdrawn. That is truly sad.

  • As I said at my blog http://www.di2.nu/blog.htm?20050303a this puts these senators in the same camp as China, Iran, Saudi Arabia etc. If you wanted a reason why people in Europe think that Americans are Fundamentalist wingnuts then this would be exhibit 1)

  • Kinda reminds me of a post at Baghdad Burning:
    We headed for the building containing the ministry employees (but hardly ever containing the minister). It was small and cramped. Every 8 employees were stuck in the same room. The air was tense and heavy. We were greeted in the reception area by a bearded man who scanned us disapprovingly.

  • richard mcenroe

    Let’s simplify that bumper sticker:

  • Mr Vee

    “Today’s washpost.com has a suggestion that PBS is an anacronism, and public support should be withdrawn. That is truly sad.”
    Actually THAT seems right on the money to me. I can see the possible viability of public broadcasting, but only in terms of what we already have in Public Access cable TV. The Federal Government subsidizing an entire broadcast network with public monies for content that can be and is carried on any one of dozens of already available cable stations…
    …that does seem anachronistic to me. The top PBS shows would likely have little problem hooking up with various cable channels, and the ones that don’t won’t be missed. Yes an era would come to an end with Sesame Street being moved to a new location, but if tradition isn’t enough to sustain the status quo and government subsidies are required, then I think it’s just as well if it moves on. Sesame Street may be educational programming for kids, but it is also universally recognized as a quality brand and would have little trouble succeeding in the marketplace as is. Indeed, it’s reach may very well expand rather than contract.
    As for Senator Pork Barrell up there in Alaska, if he thinks all 59 million people who voted for Bush are right wing Christians amenable to this kind of stuff, he’s in for a rude awakening.

  • Mike

    Red State links to another story that looks to have even worse implications for free speech than this nutball from Alaska. It has to with the awful McCain-Feingold and internet activity and is currently hypothetical. Although, I don’t see anything right now that is in place to stop this hammer from falling.

  • Dishman

    Barton’s got contributions from ClearChannel.. but Comcast employees gave more.
    IIRC, Michael Powell indicated on Ronn Owens’ show that one of the Dem members of the FCC wanted this as well. I think there’s a pro-broadcast lobbying group pushing this, looking for any angle they can use.
    To my mind, Stevens and Barton have fallen prey to the alphabets. Have at.

  • Mr. Vee:
    My error, I should have mentioned that a smallish proportion of PBS funding is from the federal government, it’s less than 30%.
    And that one of the reasons for keeping PBS is that it’s available to lower income households, of which about 62% can spring for cable and hookups that include other than locally available, mostly the big three, channels.
    As in Jeff’s very fun post about things that we don’t see around much anymore (Vanishing America), try to envision what you could watch on tv if you had only an antenna.
    True, government support for actual news (Jim Lehrer’s Newshour), may arouse suspicions about its independence … yes, I jest.

  • Dishman

    Comcast has already implemented parental controls. I didn’t see it on DirecTV’s page.

  • I really hope Rep. Stevens is successful. It’ll actually be a good thing for the First Amendment if you carry it through to the logical conclusion. Censoring cable would accelerate the transition to IPTV which is effectively beyond FCC’s capacity to control. IPTV = Free Speech.

  • Hunter McDaniel

    I don’t buy the argument that we need to keep subsdidizing broadcast PBS for the benefit of lower income households.
    1) IIRC, cable penetration is very nearly as high in lower income households as for the rest of the population. Cable non-subscribers (like me) abstain because the don’t see the value, not because they can’t afford it. So relatively few lower-income households would lose access to PBS (or the kind of shows they have) if it were not broadcast.
    2) The core audience for PBS current offerings is heavily tilted toward the upper middle class. Lower-income households are a convenient crutch for arguments like this, but make up a disproportionately small part of the audience.

  • The only bright spot in all this will be watching asshat sellouts like Dennis Miller bitch and moan when they realize that they cut their own throats by throwing their support over to Bush and his legion of modern-day puritans. Make a joke now, funny boy.

  • richard mcenroe

    Want a joke? The Republicans want to shut down Cinemax and the three Democratic FEC commissioners want to shut down your blog.

  • Hunter McDaniel:
    You wrote:
    “So relatively few lower-income households would lose access to PBS (or the kind of shows they have) if it were not broadcast.”
    Maybe you would like to rephrase this, as it is impossible that anyone wouldn’t lose access if something were not broadcast.
    “2) The core audience for PBS current offerings is heavily tilted toward the upper middle class. ”
    And you have some statistics, report, study, whatever, that makes this finding legitimate?
    “Lower-income households are a convenient crutch for arguments like this, but make up a disproportionately small part of the audience.”
    Again, your source?
    If Sesame Street and Clifford the Big Red Dog aren’t staples of educators of low income kids, perhaps you have some one who has made a statement to this effect?
    If my kids hadn’t had Mr. Rogers (who would probably be accused of being gay, since there is no Mrs. Rogers and he was uniformly loving and caring, in today’s tv atmosphere), their afternoon watching would have been predominantly violent and noisy.
    And yes, we were not able to afford cable or dish when my kids were little.