Fuck the FCC

|

OK, if things were not goddamn absurd before, they sure as hell are now.

NEXT: Rockefeller's Mystery Defense Program

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. I bet Bush and Powell are just mad that the pregnant woman’s “baby daddy” was nowhere in sight.

    Where’s thoreau? Would this be worse under Kerry too?

  2. In somewhat related news, apparently the puritans are trying out censorship by lawsuit.

    Wasn’t thoreau asking about some similar hypothetical recently?

  3. I watched the opening ceremonies, and, if I remember correctly, there was a nude statue.

    …When Ashcroft showed us the way it was going to be, we all laughed at him. We were laughing for all the wrong reasons.

  4. Bwaah ha ha, Oh ho ho ho, HE HE HE

    Ssstttoooppp!!! Oh my side

  5. It has to get ridiculous before it can get better.

    I say that we complain to the FCC every time anything slightly offensive is on TV. Maybe when people can’t watch TV anymore they’ll start to care 🙂

  6. Oh no, a pregnant woman’s glowing belly!!!! Those nasty Greeks! 🙂

  7. During women’s team volleyball, one of the americans was not audible but was in a full-screen front-on headshot dropping effusive f-bomb. I thought this article was going to cite that… My girlfriend and I enjoyed it immensely.

    quick, no one tll the fcc!

  8. “It also seeks damages of up to $74,500 for each of the thousands of people who bought the music at Wal-Marts in Maryland.”

    People should get $74,500 because their 12 year old may have heard the word “fuck”?

    Too bizarre to seem real, too real to be funny.

  9. “The Olympics opening ceremony on Aug. 14 in Athens included actors and actresses depicting two lovers dancing in the sea, a goddess of fertility and a pregnant woman whose belly glowed, according to an account posted on MSNBC?s Web site.”

    Ha! When I saw the scene involving the “two lovers”, I joked to myself about how Michael Powell & co. were going to make NBC pay for it. Sadly, no hypothetical crackdown is absurd enough for sarcasm when it comes to these airwave Torquemadas.

    There’s actually a part of me that wants to see the FCC fine them here, if only because it could demonstrate so brilliantly to millions how intolerant “the land of the free” can be relative to other Western nations on matters of human sexuality and lifestyle choices. But I think the American street is by and large too fixated on its image of itself to bother to notice.

  10. Eric II,

    The “other Western nations” already know how absurdly intolerant and Puritan the US is. The Janet Jackson incident and the subsequent reaction made us a laughing stock all over the world (except in places as backwards as us).

  11. Yet somehow, parents are assumed to be responsible enough to protect their children from what is by far the most violent, offensive programming on television: the 6:00 news.

  12. How many viewer complaints must the FCC receive before it takes action? Soon people should collude to complain about the Fox News or whoever is the popular whipping boy of the month..

  13. Now, there were a few comical reports about how 99.5 percent of FCC complaints come as form e-mails from the Parents Television Council. On Thursday, my newspaper received an e-mail defending said form e-mails (hey, PTC is looking out for us), then I got another that morning, and a third in the afternoon — all identical, except for the return addresses. Form letters defending form letters … brilliant.

  14. It is time to flood the FCC with complaints. Every show, every commercial — on every broadcast station, everywhere — should generate a complaint.

    Some possible outcomes:
    1) The FCC is overwhelmed, and can no longer process complaints, or

    2) The networks get tired of FCC bullshit and sue, sue, sue for their right to freely broadcast and the courts (finally) agree that the 1st Amendment trumps other considerations, or

    3) The FCC cripples broadcast TV, making it unprofitable; viewership migrates to unregulated (for now) cable/satellite.

    So, anyone with me on Operation: Leave No Broadcast Uncomplained?

  15. They can take 24 from my cold dead hands!!!

  16. The Deluge,

    I don’t know, man, that sounds like a lot of work. Is freedom to actually watch decent programming on broadcast TV worth getting off my ass for? Especially when I already have cable.

  17. It isn’t *that* much work.

    First, compose yourself a form letter in the most rightous, offended voice you can muster. Just leave spaces for the “offensive” content, the date, program, and broadcaster.

    Second, keep a pen and paper by the couch. Anytime you see something on TV you like — I mean, find offensive 😉 — jot it down.

    Lastly, when you have a few minutes, enter the details of the offensive programs into your form letter, and send it off to the FCC.

    Once your form letter is composed, it shouldn’t take more than a minute per “indecent” incident.

    Imagine if we could get a million people to send an e-mail each day complaining about something on broadcast TV. What would be the result?

  18. Deluge… maybe you should make a website that provides these form letters, including ones all filled in with specific complaints. Then all I’d have to do is visit your site, copy the text into an email, write my name, and hit “send”. Heck you could even have visitors fill in the specific complaints.

    Or, if you wanted to be *really* effective, you might just have an automated name/address generator and you could send out thousands of complaints all by yourself. Wonder if that would work…

  19. Andy D said:
    “Or, if you wanted to be *really* effective, you might just have an automated name/address generator and you could send out thousands of complaints all by yourself. Wonder if that would work…”

    But, but, but… that would be SPAMMING! And we all know spamming is illegal, immoral, and fattening!

  20. Hey, if we could spam the FCC into impotence, then call me Spammer.

  21. AnonyCow, if you have a laptop with a wireless connection, or even a WebTV device, you won’t even have to get off the couch. You might need one of those dogs you can train to bring you beer and Cheetos.

    Why don’t we complain to the FCC everytime a show has Mike Powell on as a guest, and he says something advocating the restriction of our freedom. I think that’s pretty effin’ obscene.

    Kevin

  22. If this gets Seventh Heaven off the air, I’m all for it.

    Of course, it could be an insidious plot to drive all over the air broadcasting out of business. The government will have plenty of bandwidth for all the miniature spy devices they’re going to plant in our butts. Then government agents (computerized, of course) will be able to monitor our vital statistics (for our health), what we eat and drink (for our health), our location (for our safety) and what we see, hear, touch, taste, feel and think (for our safety and our health). Maybe Joe is right and George Bush is Greg Stillson.

    I need a tin hat.

    QFNC cos. V

  23. The “other Western nations” already know how absurdly intolerant and Puritan the US is

    You are, I trust, aware that hardcore porn is illegal in the UK and tightly restricted in Canada, right? Just checking. You seemed unaware that, while we’re prudes compared to the Continent, we’re pretty much the sex fiends of the English-speaking world.

    But sure, the United States is Puritan, inasmuch as pornography and profanity are only available on cable, in books, in magazines, in comic books, on video, on DVD, on CD-ROM, in videogames, on trading cards and on the Internet, as opposed to being available on cable, in books, in magazines, in comic books, on video, on DVD, on CD-ROM, in videogames, on trading cards, on the Internet and on broadcast TV. There are few nations (if any) which have, overall, less restrictive speech laws than us. We just have restrictions on public broadcasts of sexual material. Most of the rest of the western world has content-based restrictions on *private* political, religious, and scientific speech. Even the travesty that is McCain-Feingold doesn’t compare to the draconian political-content laws of much of continental Europe.

    What good is the trivial culture advantage of being able to see tits on TV without paying for cable… when you have to clear your personal beliefs with the thought police?

  24. I am continually amazed at the capacity of petty bureaucrats to find new and more demeaning ways to fuck with people. I’m not talking about the inquiry itself, I’m talking about this:

    The Federal Communications Commission’s enforcement bureau has asked NBC for tapes of the opening ceremony of the Summer Olympics,

    They asked them for tapes? The FCC wants to run this giant censorship program but they’re too goddamned lazy to tape the broadcasts themselves? What the fuck is that?

  25. Wouldn’t it be cool if NBC responded in this way:

    “Hmmmmm… tape of the opening ceremony, tape of the opening ceremony. Damn! Now where did I put that… I know I had it back in September. I loaned it to Jim but he gave it back when we met at Sparks about a month and a half ago. Damn! I don’t see it here, did you check with the guy over at Madison?”

  26. I hope that Colin Powell — who is rumored to be trading up his Secretary post for a talking heads gig — lands a job in some kind of network broadcasting.

    And I hope his son, Michael Powell, stays on board at the FCC.

    The rest of this delicious hypothetical writes itself….

  27. If a person watching a network program via their cable system sees something they deem complaint worthy, does the complaint still count? Since, well, it’s not over the “public airwaves”.

  28. Dan,

    Most Western countries do not have – as you suggest – pre-broadcast, pre-publication, etc. censorship (in the U.S. we call it “prior restraint”); they do have post-broadcast fines, etc., however, which is an entirely different animal altogether.

  29. Speaking of the potential for prudery:

    Vt. gov. wants nude statue out of Statehouse

    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/6697837/

  30. My boyfriend, who works in TV, tolds me last night that the president of CBS is refusing to pay the Janet Jackson fine, and is threatening to take this to court. Apparently this news is over a month old, but I’d never heard of it until last night; he only knows because he read it in a trade magazine.

    I like Deluge’s idea. What we should ALL do is complain about EVERY SINGLE BROADCAST SHOW we see. For example: did you know that the Teletubbies features two males and two females who live together without benefit of marriage? (I can’t complain about that since I ‘Live in Sin’ myself, but one of you married folks could write the Teletubby complaint.) Did you know that last week’s Simpsons ended with a joke suggesting that an unmarried woman was giving oral sex to an alcoholic piloting a helicopter?

    The more I think about this idea the more I’m convinced it could work, if we got enough people involved. If any of y’all are interested, email me.

  31. Jennifer,

    It has been reported in the general press but it has not been particularly emphasized. As I recall, I read about it in the NYT.

  32. What WOULD happen if the FCC got complaints about every single show broadcast? Would they have to stop taking complaints altogether, or at least set out clear guidelines on what is or is not acceptable?

  33. Jennifer, but you’re the ~perfect~ person to complain about TV characters living in sin. Afterall, their dark influence has caused you to follow suit, leading to much personal shame and guilt.

  34. Andy-
    You’re right! Here is a true-life timeline of my descent into perdition:

    1997-grad student living alone, quite happy with my hermitic existence, except that I occasionally go on a date with the man with whom I now live with.

    1997, later–I am told by said man, “You’ve GOT to see this weird kids’ show that’s come out in Britain.” See first-ever Teletubbies video.

    2000-ish- I’m living with guy I’m not married to. America starts decline.

  35. Let’s ask congress to abolish the FCC. If they say “No”, then we can ask that they at least take away any regulatory power that the FCC has over content.

    http://www.visi.com/juan/congress/

  36. Why does this suprise anyone who accepts the concept of public tv? There’s really no arguement if you accept that. It’s like arguing about prayer in public schools. What we need to do is to banish the concept of “public”.

  37. …the draconian political-content laws of much of continental Europe.

    What good is the trivial culture advantage of being able to see tits on TV without paying for cable… when you have to clear your personal beliefs with the thought police?

    roflmao

    Yeah right.

    Someone’s becoming my-country-right-or-wrong-ly predictable.

    We just have restrictions on public broadcasts of sexual material.

    “Sexual materiel”! hohohohahahahehehe. Pregnant light-shining ladies. Sheriff-badged breast. hahahahohoho. NAKED STATUES!

    ANKLES!

  38. Why does this suprise anyone who accepts the concept of public tv?

    What does this have to do with PBS?

  39. “But sure, the United States is Puritan, inasmuch as pornography and profanity are only available on cable, in books, in magazines, in comic books, on video, on DVD, on CD-ROM, in videogames, on trading cards and on the Internet”

    I can’t speak for andy, but my comments about the relative intolerance of America on sexuality and lifestyle issues weren’t about restrictions on porn, per se. They were about a general lack of a live and let live mentality when it comes to social/cultural freedom. This relates not only to the FCC’s nannyism and obscenity laws, but also to a range of other issues that include drinking laws, drug laws, the rights of teenagers, and more recently, gay rights.

    And since we’re on the subject, I don’t think anyone who hasn’t gotten high on the Bob Jones/Ayatollah Khomeinei brand of theocratic crack would refer to anything that went on during the Opening Ceremony of the Olympics as falling within the realm of pornography. Which is partly why I suggested that an FCC fine related to the broadcast would demonstrate America’s relative cultural intolerance so magnificently.

    “There are few nations (if any) which have, overall, less restrictive speech laws than us.”

    Though it’s irrelevant to the issue at hand, I agree that the US is better than many other parts of the West (and most other parts of the world, period) when it comes to respecting political and religious freedom, even with McCain-Feingold. But we mostly have the 1st Amendment and those evil activist judges to thank for that. God knows what would happen in certain towns, counties, and states if the final arbitrers on this matter were the votes of the masses and the populist, authoritarian numbskulls that they elect.

  40. “Sexual materiel”! hohohohahahahehehe. Pregnant light-shining ladies. Sheriff-badged breast. hahahahohoho.

    Um, raymond, I’m not sure what you smoked before posting that — but the idea that a woman’s naked breasts are “sexual material” is agreed upon pretty much worldwide among heterosexual men, and has been for at least the past ten thousand years or so.

    As for the “pregnant shining light lady”, there is thus far exactly zero evidence that she’s what provoked the investigation. That was pure speculation on Media Week’s part.

  41. I just posted here, and my post vanished. Did anyone see that? That is irritating. I too want to be heard.

  42. (This is not a defence of Europe.)

    I’ve always thought that the leaders of repressive societies must consider their citizens unable to control themselves. It’s as if you’d all turn into sexual predators if you saw an ankle, a face, a breast. As if a glass of wine at 16 would see youth rampaging and raping in the streets. As if smoking dope would create a nation of Lotus Eaters. Horny Lotus Eaters.

    I suppose what those leaders are afraid of is that the citizens are like _them_.

    The philosophical underpinning is… There is no free will. The people must be protected from themselves. The only thing keeping us from total depravity is the state.

    So. Rather than educating kids to freedom, these leaders ram DARE and abstinence and fear down their throats.

    You can’t watch the video because if you do, you’ll go out and do DIRTY THINGS!

  43. I’ll say it again, and see if it stick this time.

    I don’t want to give any of you communists credit who say that the US is less free than other European countries.

    But, when I was in Saudi Arabia, there was an editorial in Arab News about a 50 cent video that was shown on the German MTV channel. The video was the unsensored version that they don’t show back in the states.

    The article said something to the effect of: “How come we are shown infidel sexual videos, that they aren’t even allowed to show in the infidel country that made the video.”

    And as I read it I was thinking “yeah, WTF? Why can’t I watch that back home?”.

  44. I can’t speak for andy, but my comments about the relative intolerance of America on sexuality and lifestyle issues weren’t about restrictions on porn, per se. They were about a general lack of a live and let live mentality when it comes to social/cultural freedom.

    Could you give an example of that? Because pretty much any lifestyle you care to follow that doesn’t involve harming children or animals is legal here. They’re just not all granted official government sanction and support at the national level. If you want to live in a commune, engage in group sex, and worship Satan, you’re free to do so.

    This relates not only to the FCC’s nannyism and obscenity laws, but also to a range of other issues that include drinking laws, drug laws, the rights of teenagers, and more recently, gay rights

    How are we worse than the Western average with respect to drinking, drugs, and the rights of teenagers? And what do you mean “more recently, gay rights” given that both legal and public support for gay rights have sharply expanded during the last few years? The only major area in which we lag behind the west is in legal recognition of gay marriage — but legal recognition of marriage is not a right. The legal institution of marriage just another government entitlement program, and gays are being denied their place at the trough.

    But we mostly have the 1st Amendment and those evil activist judges to thank for that.

    Polls have shown that Americans are less willing to ban offensive political and religious speech than Brits, French, or Germans are. It isn’t just the judges and the first amendment.

  45. raymond,

    I agree that repression over things sexual is born of a fear that people will lose control in the face of certain influences. But let’s not pin this all on “leaders,” convenient as that may be. Those leaders are merely sucking up to constituents who favor the repression of their fellow citizen.

    Also, while I agree that Dan’s perpetual defense of America against all those who might criticize her can get old, but let’s not lose sight that he’s generally responding to America-bashers whose nationally-oriented carps come first.

    That said, Dan, the bashers didn’t say that America was worse than other countries about free speech in general, only that we were too easily upset about public sexuality. And maybe we are?

  46. I kind of Agree with both Dan and Raymond.

    Incase I was unclear the Saudi editorial was complaining because they believed that the US Govt was offering its citizens more protection from harmful images than the Saudi Govt is.

    Which I assume is the same approach as the nanny staters back in the states.

    I see the porn prohibitors as being from the same mindset as the drug prohibitors and the alcohol prohibitors.

    Where does one man get the right to tell another man what he can enjoy on his own. And what can a SWAT team stop a young’un from doing that that the parents can’t?

    And yes the Europeans are worse, if only in the way they understand the problem.

  47. Although he should have said differently (is “public broadcast spectrum” the correct terminology?), wellfellow is correct about the heart of the problem, and it explains much of the rift between what Dan and raymond see. The US has a bill of rights that despite pressures against it still does a decent job of protecting citizens in the private sphere. But the broadcast spectrum is considered public, and thus not protected the same way. I suspect Europe has the same concept (someone will surely correct me if I’m wrong), but they’re noticeably less antagonized about sexual imagery on those so-called public airwaves, and thus their broadcasts are more free.

  48. Fyodor says, “The US has a bill of rights that despite pressures against it still does a decent job of protecting citizens in the private sphere. But the broadcast spectrum is considered public, and thus not protected the same way.”

    But what about cable and broadband? The US already exerts regulatory control in these areas and wants more, as has been demonstrated by numerous hit-and-run postings over the past couple of years. Even in a context where the “public commons” argument cannot possibly be made, lawmakers want to control terms of commerce and impose censorship, bill of rights be damned. Even in the broadcast and satellite arenas, the “public commons” and “scarcity” arguments no longer hold up; I would find free speech and free press arguments to hold more water in the modern day. Yet federal control of those channels is tightening, not loosening.

  49. “How are we worse than the Western average with respect to drinking, drugs, and the rights of teenagers?”

    Hmm, let me count the ways:

    1. Drinking age and its active enforcement
    2. Drinking in public
    3. Marijuana decriminilization/legalization
    4. Penalties for recreational drug use
    5. Privacy/civil liberties infringements in the name of cracking down on drug use
    6. Teenage curfews
    7. Age of consent and its active enforcement

    I’m sure I’d think of other ones if I took more time to consider the matter.

    “And what do you mean “more recently, gay rights” given that both legal and public support for gay rights have sharply expanded during the last few years? The only major area in which we lag behind the west is in legal recognition of gay marriage”

    Well, that’s a pretty big difference. And it’s not just the existence of the difference, but the fact that much of the country appears to be at least a full generation away from doing away with it. Then there’s the fact that if it wasn’t for the Supreme Court, sodomy laws would still be in place in much of the country. Yes, you can say that they were rarely applied, but people did get trapped by them every now and then. And it’s hard to think of many places in the West whose voters would consider keeping them on the books.

    “Polls have shown that Americans are less willing to ban offensive political and religious speech than Brits, French, or Germans are. It isn’t just the judges and the first amendment.”

    Maybe, but I’m sure that if given the opportunity, there are plenty of right-wing and left-wing locales throughout the country that would find some very creative ways to piss all over the rights protected by the 1st Amendment.

  50. “How are we worse than the Western average with respect to drinking, drugs, and the rights of teenagers?”

    Hmm, let me count the ways:

    1. Drinking age and its active enforcement
    2. Drinking in public
    3. Marijuana decriminilization/legalization
    4. Penalties for recreational drug use
    5. Privacy/civil liberties infringements in the name of cracking down on drug use
    6. Teenage curfews
    7. Age of consent and its active enforcement

    I’m sure I’d think of other ones if I took more time to consider the matter.

    “And what do you mean “more recently, gay rights” given that both legal and public support for gay rights have sharply expanded during the last few years? The only major area in which we lag behind the west is in legal recognition of gay marriage”

    Well, that’s a pretty big difference. And it’s not just the existence of the difference, but the fact that much of the country appears to be at least a full generation away from doing away with it. Then there’s the fact that if it wasn’t for the Supreme Court, sodomy laws would still be in place in much of the country. Yes, you can say that they were rarely applied, but people did get trapped by them every now and then. And it’s hard to think of many places in the West whose voters would consider keeping them on the books.

    “Polls have shown that Americans are less willing to ban offensive political and religious speech than Brits, French, or Germans are. It isn’t just the judges and the first amendment.”

    Maybe, but I’m sure that if given the opportunity, there are plenty of right-wing and left-wing locales throughout the country that would find some very creative ways to piss all over the rights protected by the 1st Amendment.

  51. Dan,

    Because pretty much any lifestyle you care to follow that doesn’t involve harming children or animals is legal here.

    Clearly polygamy (whatever variety it may come in) is not legal in the U.S.; nor is recreational drug use generally legal; nor may one buy alcohol in the dry counties in the U.S.; nor may one create faux-snuff films (the DOJ is currently prosecuting a number of creators and distributors of such material); nor may one import or sell absinthe in the U.S.; nor may one in many U.S. states use drugs like peyote for religious purposes; etc. There are a lot of “lifestyles” which are clearly illegal in the U.S. to be involved in.

    Polls have shown that Americans are less willing to ban offensive political and religious speech than Brits, French, or Germans are.

    Care to give us a citation? Given your earlier erroneous comment on the nature of “prior restraint” laws in Europe I think I’ll need more proof than what you’ve provided.

    The only major area in which we lag behind the west is in legal recognition of gay marriage…

    That’s not really true. There is entire array of things from the sort of privilege against testimony associated with married couples, ability of homosexuals (as singles or not) to adopt, etc. where the U.S. lags behind. Anyway, marraige is far more than an “entitlement program” though there are entitlement aspects to it (as usual your hyperbolic manner overstates the reality of the situation).

    fyodor,

    Sexuallly explicit material on broadcast TV (the kind you can pick up with rabbit ears) is pretty common in Europe. Then again, I’ve also witnessed political speech on TV in France that I would never never see on the air in the U.S. – be it communists, fascists, etc. What happens of course is that someone says something which violates the law (e.g., something which is racist, etc.) and they get fined a 1,000 euros.

  52. Another for the list: nor may one buy dildos and other like devices in certain U.S. states (e.g., Texas and Alabama). Indeed a woman who has parties for housewives geared towards such devices, etc. was recently arrested in Texas.

  53. GG,

    Is French TV run by the state? If not, I would suppose the larger breadth of views expressed on it would be attributed to cultural differences. Good to be reminded that they can also play a role in “what is allowed” in addition to legal issues….

  54. So many of you guys are so obsessed with sex that you must by very ugly, stupid, or just plain nerds. God, just get laid already!

    Yeah, the FCC should fuck off!

    Yeah, the US is a bit more puritanical than Europe.

    So, I ask:

    Would you rather pay a 55% tax rate?

    Would you like to go to prison for home-schooling your children?

    Would you like to go to prison for saying something negative about Islam?

    Would you like to be told by the government that you must have your store closed by 6 pm and all day on Sunday?

    Would you like the government to prevent your children from playing outside because it might disturb your neighbors–during the daytime?!

    Would you like to be subject to conscription?

    I could go on, but this should give you a little taste of “European” freedom. Actually, these are all German laws. Yeah, you can see a little titty on the TV. Big fucking deal! I’d much rather see a real-life tit. (My German wife does miss the “tasteful” soft-porn she used to watch on German TV. We don’t have Cinemax.)

    Grow up people! Not being able to see sex on TV is NOT a big deal. Maybe it is for those that can’t get any, but fuck, renting a DVD ain’t that expensive.

  55. “I can’t speak for andy, but my comments about the relative intolerance of America on sexuality and lifestyle issues weren’t about restrictions on porn, per se. They were about a general lack of a live and let live mentality when it comes to social/cultural freedom. This relates not only to the FCC’s nannyism and obscenity laws, but also to a range of other issues that include drinking laws, drug laws, the rights of teenagers, and more recently, gay rights.”

    Spot on. In my state an MIP (minor in possession) results in an increase in CAR INSURANCE rates, even if the kid is nowhere near his car.

    And I remember reading a couple years ago about a young man in high school who went to a party where a bunch of kids were getting wasted. He was the DD and drove his friends home safely… AND THEN HE GOT KICKED OFF HIS SCHOOL SOCCER TEAM AND SUSPENDED! FOR NOT GETTING DRUNK AND SAVING HIS FRIENDS’ ASSES!

    Only in America.

  56. Bill,

    No one is saying (at least I’m not) that anywhere else on this planet is some libertarian haven. That’s not the point. I’ll admit, we live in the greatest and most free country in the world, in spite of all its flaws. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t complain about those flaws and seek to improve them.

  57. Andy,

    I agree. I just kind of lose it when Americans start saying how great Europe is. You should see their faces when I inform them that in France you are considered guilty until proven innocent, that if you are middle class in Germany, you are likely to pay as much or more for (government-mandated) health insurance than here, that one reason why their drug costs are lower is that they simply do not allow expensive (and sometimes life-saving) drugs into their markets, etc. There are many things about Europe that I love, but their governments are far inferior to ours, especially with respect to individual liberty.

  58. “Grow up people! Not being able to see sex on TV is NOT a big deal. Maybe it is for those that can’t get any, but fuck, renting a DVD ain’t that expensive.”

    Suggesting that those who get upset over the FCC’s censorship are driven by a desire to watch porn on TV is as absurd as suggesting that those who get upset over hate speech laws are driven by a desire to read neo-Nazi propoganda.

  59. “I just kind of lose it when Americans start saying how great Europe is.”

    Who here has suggested that Europe is a libertarian utopia? The arguments made involving positive comments towards Europe have only suggested that America can be less liberal in some respects, not in all respects, and not necessarily overall.

  60. Andy,
    ” In my state an MIP (minor in possession) results in an increase in CAR INSURANCE rates”

    How does that work? That is fucked up and a half! I am assuming that the state govt forces that, because otherwise it would merely be an issue of changing your insurance company.

    How can the state force insurance companys to have rules like that? Doesn’t that go against everything we as a nation believe in. Isn’t that unethical, and not to mention unsound economic policy?

  61. Would you like the government to prevent your children from playing outside because it might disturb your neighbors–during the daytime

    Bill,
    My friends and I got kicked out of a park for disturbing people. We were playing football and there was no swearing. The police officer that told us to leave said that he would’ve let us stay but one jerk-off kept complaining. We weren’t being loud. People are statist bastards here too.

  62. Interesting note:

    The UK is in the process of enacting a law banning unsanctioned criticism of religion. Such laws are common in Europe and Canada.

    If such laws were enacted here in the United States, many of you would be subject to prosecution simply for the insulting remarks you’ve made about the religious right.

  63. 1. Drinking age and its active enforcement

    It is admittedly a bit silly that the drinking age is 21 instead of 18. But talking about “its active enforcement” ignores the fact that 18, 19, or 20-year-olds have little trouble getting their hands on booze. I certainly didn’t, and I doubt you did either.

    2. Drinking in public

    Drinking in public is not banned in the United States. It is certainly true that it is banned in certain communities, but that is simply because our federalist system gives the people greater freedom to govern themselves.

    3. Marijuana decriminilization/legalization

    Marijuana is neither legal nor decriminalized in most of the western world. Besides, private use of pot is effectively decriminalized in much of the United States (California, for example).

    4. Penalties for recreational drug use

    … exist in every single western nation.

    5. Privacy/civil liberties infringements in the name of cracking down on drug use

    Certainly bad, but the rights lost are ones which most of the western world never had in the first place. The fact that our drug laws have given our justice system draconian powers comparable to those of France and Germany is hardly an argument that we’re worse than Europe is.

    6. Teenage curfews

    I’m stumped on this one. First of all, we’re far from being the only western nation with curfew laws. Secondly, teenagers do not have a right to unrestricted movement, so our failure to grant them one is hard to fault. Curfew laws do not generally apply to teenagers accompanied by their legal guardians. So what’s the problem?

    7. Age of consent and its active enforcement

    The age of consent laws do not restrict the rights of teenagers. The people subject to criminal penalties for sleeping with children are the adults who choose to do so.

    On a side note, the 1999 Durex survey of major western nations found that youth in the United States had the lowest age of first sexual experience (we tied with Canada, actually) and the largest number of sex partners by age 21. So it is hard to argue that our “Puritan culture” is limiting teens’ sexual freedom in any significant way.

  64. in Germany, you are likely to pay as much or more for (government-mandated) health insurance than here… (my bold)

    omg! AS MUCH! Well, that proves it then.

    that one reason why their drug costs are lower is that they simply do not allow expensive (and sometimes life-saving) drugs into their markets

    Here’s the WHO chart on life expectancy (2001). Even with eastern Germany included in the stats, Germans seem to live longer.

    Here’s the 2004 CIA estimate. Germany is 32nd, the US 48th. (I don’t know if the estimate for the US takes combat-related deaths into account. Or perhaps the significant difference comes for the use of capital punishment? You know. Where helpless individuals are ritually killed by the state?)

    And here (while I’m looking) is the CDC info on the difference between whites and blacks in the US. (In 2002, the difference for males was 6.3 years. If Black USA were its own country, it’d rank 100th on the CIA chart. And, interestingly, if Black MALE USA were its own country, it would be… IRAQ! I wonder if investing 10s of billions of $s into the black community…)

    Maybe Germans do need more expensive life-saving drugs. Then they could live as long as Americans. :snort:

    There are many things about Europe that I love, but their governments are far inferior to ours, especially with respect to individual liberty.

    Don’t worry. Britain (37th) is, slowly but surely, getting her own version of the PATRIOT Act. So soon, at least _that_ part of Europe will be as respectful of individual liberty as is the US.

    btw, Germany has a federal system, so many of the laws you refer to are probably L?nder. laws.

    You should see their faces when I inform them that in France…

    You should see my French friends’ faces when I inform them that in the US it is illegal for any man to have sexual intercourse with a live fish, and that the law specifically bans couples from having sex while standing inside a store’s walk-in meat freezer.

    So many of you guys are so obsessed with sex that you must by very ugly, stupid, or just plain nerds. God, just get laid already

    NERDS???

    On a more serious note… It seems to me that people who get all hot and bothered about a badge-covered nipple or a glowing belly or who pass a law which cannot be quoted on tv because it’s got so many filthy (unless they are uttered on the floor of the Senate by the President of that august body) words are the ones “obsessed with sex”.

    Would you like to go to prison for saying something negative about Islam?

    And I don’t know. A country whose history includes the Holocaust might have a good reason for banning speech which is an incitement to hatred. Would you like to be fined half a million dollars for the use of a simple gerund?

    But I digress.

    The FCC is the American answer to the burkha. Without it and the PTC, your men would be roaming the streets in a frenzy of lust. No live fish would be safe from your depredations.

  65. The age of consent laws do not restrict the rights of teenagers. The people subject to criminal penalties for sleeping with children are the adults who choose to do so.

    This case, Matthew R. Limon v. the State of Kansas, outrages me.

    State attorneys argued in August [2004] that it was appropriate to sentence Matthew R. Limon to 17 years in prison for criminal sodomy for having sex at age 18 with a 14-year-old boy in 2000. Had the victim been a girl, Limon could have received 15 months in prison under a 1999 law. (Kansas City Star)

    Convince me that both legal and public support for gay rights have sharply expanded during the last few years? Convince that poor kid.

  66. Raymond,
    I would rather be free and take having a long healthy life in my own hands. Rather than have a nanny state take care of me from cradle to grave, and control what I earn and what I do.
    Freedom is what the fight is about, not better govt ensured longevity.

    Dan,
    I can’t believe how wrong you were on just about every point. I agree that the US is free-er and better than any other nation I have been, or know about.

    However;
    The exact age of the drinking age is irrelevant. It is the belief that the government can enforce a drinking age that is the problem. I believe that it is further proof that the drinking age is that as you state;

    “18, 19, or 20-year-olds have little trouble getting their hands on booze. I certainly didn’t, and I doubt you did either.”

    I really don’t know if it is a good thing or a bad thing that the first thing you learn as an upcoming adult in America, is that the law is your enemy, and how to succesfully flaunt it.

  67. Dan,
    So I read your post again, and really the drinking age one was the only one that I really have to disagree with you on.

  68. Raymond,

    “Convince me that both legal and public support for gay rights have sharply expanded during the last few years? Convince that poor kid.”

    You know that poor kid would have been OK if he were in Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, or Iraq. These countries seem to be surprisingly ok with men boning boys. A lot of times they appear to even be ok if it is not consensual.

    So much so, that I have formed my own little theory, that such behavior, and/or orientation is an inevitable result of heterosexual repression.

  69. You have actually to read the articles, kwais.

    Here is another one, with a little excerpt below:

    In 1999 and 2000, Limon was a resident of the Lakemary Center, a school for developmentally disabled young people in Paola. In February 2000, after he had turned 18, Limon performed a sex act with another boy, identified only as M.A.R., who was one month shy of his 15th birthday. Initially, their encounter was consensual.

    The zmag article adds this:

    Sometime in mid-February, Limon engaged in oral sex with another male student ?named in the court papers only as MAR. MAR initially consented to the sex, but then changed his mind. When he told Limon to stop, Limon did so immediately. Although it remains unclear how the police became involved in the case ?presumably someone from the Lakemary Center called them in? both Limon and MAR stated that the sex was consensual.

    My point in posting this story was twofold.

    1. “Homophobia” and bigotry are still enshrined in the law.

    2. This is a cruel injustice, and something ought to be done about it.

  70. Raymond, dude,
    There is only so much I can read in my alotted internet time. There are only so many links that a slow reader can get through.

    I was in a hurry to answer Dan’s post, (drinking age is another one of my pet causes, along with prisons) and I saw your posts, and felt the need to respond.

    I didn’t read the articles you linked, because I figured I got the jist of what was on them. And more importantly, I read in your post that you were comparing Germany favorably to the US because of their longer life expectancy that comes as a result of forced participation in Govt healthcare programs.

    There would be little that an article could say to convince me that is not wrong.

    About the dude with the almost 15 year old. I don’t really know. I don’t know what the age of consent should be. I know that a girl reaches sexual maturity long before she is legal. But I don’t know, I don’t have any kids that I know of, but if I had some, I would either have to have the law on my side to protect them, or I would have to take the law into my own hands on that one. I will take sole responsibility for their drinking and drug use. But as for their sexual well being, I don’t know. That is a tougher one.

    A friend of mine used to joke “there isn’t much you can’t talk a 16 year old into”. And that rings true, and it is a troublesome thought.

  71. “But talking about “its active enforcement” ignores the fact that 18, 19, or 20-year-olds have little trouble getting their hands on booze.”

    But many kids still get arrested for it. That rarely happens for those teenagers even under the age of 18 in most other Western countries.

    “Drinking in public is not banned in the United States. It is certainly true that it is banned in certain communities”

    Quite a few communities, in fact. And federalism can’t be used as an excuse.

    “Marijuana is neither legal nor decriminalized in most of the western world.”

    It’s now been decriminalized in much of Western Europe, and appears to be on the verge of decriminalization in Canada. In no Western country does it lead to arrests with the frequency that it does in the US.

    “… exist in every single western nation.”

    But not to the same degree. The idea of imposing jail sentences on recreational drug users is one that America is quickly developing a monopoly on within the West.

    “Certainly bad, but the rights lost are ones which most of the western world never had in the first place.”

    So how many other countries carry out random drug testing of students? And which ones have something like the RAVE Act in place?

    “First of all, we’re far from being the only western nation with curfew laws.”

    There’s virtually no other place where they’re applied and enforced to the extent they are here.

    “Secondly, teenagers do not have a right to unrestricted movement, so our failure to grant them one is hard to fault.”

    Why don’t they? It’s one thing if their parents want them home by a certain time. But what business is it of the government’s if the parents don’t mind?

    “The age of consent laws do not restrict the rights of teenagers. The people subject to criminal penalties for sleeping with children are the adults who choose to do so.”

    Granted. So it’s the adults who are often unjustly prosecuted in cases involving sex between two individuals old enough to give their full consent. Though I’d add that the “children” in these cases are routinely 16 and 17-year olds, and thus above the age of consent in most of the rest of the world.

    “On a side note, the 1999 Durex survey of major western nations found that youth in the United States had the lowest age of first sexual experience (we tied with Canada, actually) and the largest number of sex partners by age 21.”

    That’s entirely irrelevant. This isn’t about what people do in private in a given country, but what they can be subject to in public.

  72. Kwais,

    “How can the state force insurance companys to have rules like that? Doesn’t that go against everything we as a nation believe in?”

    It goes against everything a free-loving person believes in, but I think we’re in the minority here.

    “Isn’t that unethical, and not to mention unsound economic policy?”

    I’d say so.

    “About the dude with the almost 15 year old. I don’t really know. I don’t know what the age of consent should be. I know that a girl reaches sexual maturity long before she is legal. But I don’t know, I don’t have any kids that I know of, but if I had some, I would either have to have the law on my side to protect them, or I would have to take the law into my own hands on that one. I will take sole responsibility for their drinking and drug use. But as for their sexual well being, I don’t know. That is a tougher one.”

    Regardless of what age you think the age of consent should be (I don’t like to give a specific date myself, it depends on the person), the fact is that the law discriminated against the kid because he performed a homosexual act.
    If the 14 yr and 11 mo old had been a girl, he would have gotten a relative slap on the wrist.

  73. Dan,

    You’ve got to be joking. Even if it were true that teenagers don’t have right to be outside, that alone wouldn’t justify a harsh restrictive policy that no other country in the world has adopted.

    If a teen is out on the streets, harming no one, then he/she has as much a right to be there as any adult. If there parents have a problem with that, it’s between the teen and their parents.
    It seems that walking down the street, harming no one, has 9th amendment jurisdiction, and some connections to the 1st and 4th.

    In some cities, teenage curfew violators are taken to centers where they are interviewed (read:questioned/interrogated) about drug use, sexuality, home environment. Many times, teens whose sole crime is being outside are put on probation for 6-12 months and subject to regular drug tests, probation officer call backs, etc. Some states have had to pass laws forbidding police from strip searching curfew violators.

    When I think free country, I don’t imagine that country’s law enforcement walking/driving around questioning who look like they might of a certain age and ticketing and/or arresting people who are of a certain age.

    When other countries curfew their citizens without a legitimate emergency ocurring, human rights groups howl about oppression and violations. When we do it to our own young people, politicians and police celebrate and praise is it as good policy. The silence of those same human rights groups is also well noted.

    Our drinking age is the highest in the world and is more rigidly enforce then other countries lower ages. I don’t read too much about European officers going into private houses and testing/arresting the occupants because alcohol was present, even when those in attendance are under the legal drinking age in that country.
    Every other country allows a young person to drink with their parents anywhere. While legal in many states, the practice carries risks of jailed as neglectful/abusive.

    I’m by no means an expert in foreign affairs, but I don’t hear much about European officials running drug dogs through schools, tossing lockers, frisking students, searching vehicles, and emptying bookbags the way our police do here.

    Each of our crusades against teens doing/seing something have direct and immediate consequences for them that nearly always outweigh the harm atrributed to the crusadeee :).
    AND each crusade has an affect on adults who are supposed to be able to see/use/do those things. Anytime a group wants to prohibit something, they simply ratchet up the laws on young people first and then on adults in the name of keeping teens from seeing/doing.

    The teen prohibition campaign is just a wedge to begin restricting adults the same way. Companies and so-called civil liberties who support anti-teen access measures are giving their opponents a great big back door with which to achieve their objective.

    Even if you don’t believe youth should have adult rights, to go along with the adult level of accountability they have now, you can’t deny that allowing them basic freedoms would make
    things easier on adults as well.

  74. My apologies for the missing words, mispellings, and assorted grammatical nasties in the above post.
    That’s what I get for typing when I first wake up and haven’t had my legal wake up drug of choice:)

  75. i’m certainly not one to think that europe is somehow idyllic or utopian. or even wholly progressive — much of europe is still rural and quite conservative, and their views tend to be underrepresented in the american conception of a european polity.

    moreover, i’m an american and a patriot — as, i suspect, virtually all americans are.

    right. but, that said, a question to mr dan: have you ever been to europe? even to canada? it doesn’t seem to me you could have been, or you’d realize how preposterous — utterly ridiculous, really — you sound in defending america as the greatest great bastion of social lawlessness w/r/t sex, speech and everything else.

    a cursory examination of continental television and political speech and news will tell you so, though i doubt you’ve accomodated reality in any way while forming your silly america-first jingoism. don’t bother with articulating your views — you haven’t done a good job of that anyway. simply watch some euro tv or observe what constitutes a european political scandal and learn whereof you speak.

    now, we can argue the merits of conventional social restrictions on speech. i personally happen to believe (unlike most here, who likely find it anathema) that people in the main are irrational animals and do need to be safeguarded from their instincts on some level, and that institutions like state and religion have a social role in constructing those safeguards. the jist of this thread — that “national supremacy” is implied by who can destroy all the rules fastest and most completely — is anarchic at best.

    the united states maintains only a shallow ascetic moralism (which western europe has largely abandoned) instead of a deeper societal understanding of social welfare. ridiculous instances like olympic ‘obscenity’ and covering statuary is the absurd work of reactionary fools.

    but what they are blindly reacting against is real and insidious: the gradual abandonment of any social conformity or limitation on individual appetites. one has to look back fifty or a hundred years (instead of five or ten) to see how far we’ve moved in that direction, but the move is profound — and i have difficulty separating the abandonment of moral conformity from decline of social obligation generally that has necessitated (in some minds) the promotion of the police state to maintain order.

  76. “i personally happen to believe (unlike most here, who likely find it anathema) that people in the main are irrational animals and do need to be safeguarded from their instincts on some level, and that institutions like state and religion have a social role in constructing those safeguards”

    Yet you simultaneously bemoan the decline of cultural elitism, the way in which (in your eyes) everything within the culture is being brought down to a lowest common denominator in order satiate the masses. Don’t you see the contradiction here? The “safeguards” that you mention inevtiably penalize the “elite”, those who are capable of acting as something other than irrational animals that need to be “tamed” by government and religion.

  77. Don’t you see the contradiction here? The “safeguards” that you mention inevtiably penalize the “elite”, those who are capable of acting as something other than irrational animals that need to be “tamed” by government and religion.

    sorry, mr eric, but we’ve miscommunicated.

    i do think that plebiscitarianism is a consequence of overwrought individualism and frought with danger for society, true.

    but why would you assume that the safeguards i speak of are designed to control the elites? they aren’t — indeed, i’d prefer to be able to re-empower an aristocracy through government over the people as a means of controlling them.

    if one idealizes the constitution or the magna carta as a weapon of the rights of the masses against the aristocracy, and then also assumes i advocate more constitutionalism, then i can see where you’d arrive at your opinion.

    but documents like the bill of rights and magna carta were designed to protect *the aristocracy* from monarchic tyranny far more than the masses — and it is THAT which i consider important to good government.

    not that it would be ideal — government by interested aristocrats is capable of oligarchic tyranny too. but it would be much more sensible than the rule by mob which we have misguidedly (imo) adopted.

  78. Brendan Perez,

    That was brilliant. The infantilization of young people in our society cannot be a good thing overall, nor can denying them rights inherent to them. I don’t know what it’ll take for the pigs (and the sheep they’re supposed to “protect”) to realize this, but many people will continue to suffer in the process.

  79. “but why would you assume that the safeguards i speak of are designed to control the elites? they aren’t — indeed, i’d prefer to be able to re-empower an aristocracy through government over the people as a means of controlling them.”

    Ok. So exactly how would you chose to create a new aristocracy, and what rights/powers would you give them that would be denied to the hoi polloi?

    “but documents like the bill of rights and magna carta were designed to protect *the aristocracy* from monarchic tyranny far more than the masses — and it is THAT which i consider important to good government.”

    Perhaps, but the practical effect of the Bill of Rights has been to protect individuals more from populist tyranny than from the whims of an autocratic ruler, though it’s done that as well (and also failed to do it at times).

  80. Wouldn’t it be cool if NBC responded in this way:

  81. Oops, messed up the italics. The first two parags. above were from Too Many Steves, and the third and final reply was from me.

    And another thing:

    So many of you guys are so obsessed with sex that you must by very ugly, stupid, or just plain nerds. God, just get laid already!

    Mmm, not all that ugly … not stupid in most respects … I’m going to have to go with “nerd.” This is a libertarian blog, after all. It’s not exactly the jocks’ table in the cafeteria.

    Come to think of it, my last two opportunities to get laid, I gently turned down, because — get this — I thought I didn’t know the girl well enough yet. Make that “stupid” and “nerd.” 🙂

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.