Bum Rush


In the wake of last week's revelation that (excepting Janet's halftime teat) 99.9 percent of FCC complaints originate with the professional bluenose lobby—in this case the Parents Television Council—Atrios is calling on his hordes of readers to turn the tables by flooding the FCC with complaints about Rush Limbaugh's use of the word "addadictomy" (say it out loud) to describe a sex change operation.

Now, if Limbaugh were known for his frequent calls for FCC censorship of other media, there'd be a certain poetic justice here. But when, rather obviously prompted by fears of FCC fines, Clear Channel dropped Howard Stern, Limbaugh was one of the people who spoke out against it. He seems a poor target for this sort of thing, and in any event these "retaliatory" moves invariably become tu quoque fodder for yet futher escalations of the media control wars.

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  1. Sanchez should have typed: Halftime treat.

    Reason comes to Limbaugh’s defense…I am dumbfounded

  2. Atrios has a decent idea but it should be positive — complaint to the FCC there isn’t enough nudity and cursing on the network. The PTC is ridiculous and such a small, prudish subculture can apparently have an effect on the boob tube. Personally I recommend throwing your TV out, its a choice I haven’t regretted

  3. Why shouldn’t Reason come to Limbaugh’s defense (or Franken’s) against an attempt to use the power of the state to harass them?

  4. spur,

    Yeah, its a good idea, just poorly implemented. Now if PTC had a radio station… 🙂

  5. I almost agree. Limbaugh certainly has his moments. However, in the interest of flooding the FCC with the kind of complaints it has taken upon itself to review, everyone is fair game. Nothing personal.

  6. Nice idea, but it won’t work.

    If anything, the FCC will use it to claim that their system works. The PTC would then claim that they too would be offended by the content and also use it to prove that they are in the right.

  7. The idea is to point out to people who may approve of FCC actions so far (e.g. Limbaugh listeners) that the same actions can be taken against them. Once everyone realizes that no one is safe from the FCC, then we can finally build a broad based consensus to cut down on their excesses. Right now, the issue is framed as right thinking people versus Howard Stern. This changes it to the FCC versus everyone.

  8. If Powell is to be believed the FCC “investigates” these issues because, legally, they have to. Which leads me to believe that, in fact, they really don’t get many complaints at all since they spend their time chasing up ticky-tack shit.

    A better idea would be a Denial of Service attack of sorts. Basically, drown the FCC in thousands of different complaints (each as meaningless as the PTC’s seem to be) and make ’em waste time and money chasing each and every one up.

  9. How about this? You get broadband. You get whoever’s currently broadcasting what you want to set up a streaming video server. You then proceed to watch porn, Jimmy Swaggart, a webcam pointed at a fishtank, or a chubby coed with self esteem issues to your hearts content, and forget that the FCC exists.

  10. I must admire your pragmatism, Junyo, but it doesn’t work that way for some of us. As libertarians, our job is to bitch about everything.

  11. Lefties again misdiagnose the problem. Some of them obviously believe the BS about the religious conservative cabal that runs the nation, and it prevents them from targeting effectively.

  12. Lord Duppy!!

    Here… Here…

  13. Lefties again misdiagnose the problem. – JL
    I agree.

  14. Junyo,

    Maybe you and the PTC should be the ones to make special provisions to viddy what you want. Yeah, what say you turn off your TV’s and let us watch what we want on that medium.

    Anyway, welcome back!

  15. I’m much more in favor of using the PTC system to overwhelm the FCC with spurious complaints. Complain about Elmo’s dances being ‘suggestive’ and about the lewd and suggestive shapes of the Veggie Tales characters.

  16. If I can solicit the help of all you H&R Reasonoids, I want to complain in block to the FCC for the offensive soap operas that are broadcasted to my television while I am at work. This highly offensive material has had serious negative impacts to my wife’s daily productivity. As a matter of fact, she seems to have developed a serious addiction. We need to do this for my kids!

  17. This has as much chance of convincing Limbaugh and his Conservative followers to embrace free speech as the revelations of Limbaugh’s pain killer problems showed them the errors of drug prohibition.

  18. Yeah, what say you turn off your TV’s and let us watch what we want on that medium.

    Way ahead of you. All I watch is Bjork videos and Amish porn via Winamp. Enjoy those ‘Life With Jim’ reruns. Cheers.

  19. Limbaugh actually isn’t bad on free speech, at least compared to most conservatives. (Ok, I’ll grant you many of his listeners are another matter…)

    But remember what’s going on here. A shrill liberal just wants to attack a shrill conservative. Atrios could give a shit about free speech.

    If Atrios really wants to help the cause of free speech, he can try to push for a repeal of McCain-Feigngold.

    Or better yet, try to get rid of the idea of the airwaves as “public property”. As long as that idea persists, the feds will be able to regulate content for dirty words on tv and radio. But I have to meet a lefty who would ever give up their precious belief that the airwaves belong to the “public.”

  20. Aha! I, as a long-time subscriber to REASON, just remembered a valuable resource within the pages of a back issue.

    When you send in your complaints, don’t forget the multitude of immmoral, pro-gay-agenda, anti-family TV shows running on Nick at Nite, TV Land, etc. For ammo, see this article:



    … The anchor series for TBS has always been The Andy Griffith Show. Nice and safe, right? Wrong.

    Andy Taylor is a widower. His wife died before the series began. So there’s no mother to raise little Opie (though he does have Andy’s spinster Aunt Bea). And while Andy dates a string of nice-looking women during the run of the show, his closest relationship is with his deputy, Barney Fife. Want more? Consider this: Of all the major male characters on the show–Andy, Barney, Floyd the barber, Howard Sprague, Goober, and Gomer–the only married one is Otis Campbell, the town drunk. What sort of message were the makers of this show trying to send? …

    …You can also catch Magnum, P.I. on WOR. This one revolves around Thomas Magnum and his pal Jonathan Higgins, an older man who lets Magnum live with him rent-free in a palatial estate. Both men have mustaches….

    …OK, OK, so most cable is toxic. But at least The Family Channel must be safe. After all, it’s run by televangelist Pat Robertson. And the name–well, there has to be truth in advertising. Yet even Robertson neglects his duty to provide moral uplift through entertainment. The channel’s Saturday afternoon lineup consists of old Western series. Let’s start with Bonanza. Once more, the central character is a widower. This time he’s raising three sons. But Ben Cartwright is no ordinary widower. He has buried three wives, and his longtime companion is his male cook, Hop Sing. A few years into the series, the Cartwrights added a new man to their household, a handsome cowboy they call “Candy.” The all-male atmosphere seems to have left the Cartwright boys with a lot of unresolved anger. They can’t seem to settle a dispute without violence….

    … Jeez, does Pat even watch the stuff he airs? Each weeknight, the Family Channel runs old movie shorts featuring the Three Stooges. In most of these films, the Stooges aren’t married. They are often depicted as living together. And their relationship has a decided S&M flavor to it. The channel has also run at least one special featuring magicians Siegfried and Roy. The less said about that the better….

    …My Three Sons is another cable mainstay. Again, the lead is a widowed man raising his family. His only companion is a man his boys know as “Uncle” Charley. Charley is a former sailor who likes to cook and clean. Then there’s Flipper, a series featuring another widowed father. Surprisingly, there’s no male housekeeper this time. But the boy does develop an unusually close relationship with a (male) sea mammal….

    Much, much more at https://reason.com/9701/col.oliver.shtml

  21. Pat Robertson hasn’t owned the Family Channel (now ABC Family, and before that Fox Family) for years. His show, “The 700 Club,” still airs on it only because that was part of the deal when he sold out to Fox (which sold out to ABC).

  22. Harrassing Limbaugh is just noxious. Even if you don’t like him and he bitches about smut, has he advocated increased FCC fines or just parents taking control of their kid’s habits? Uhm…not sure, but judging from the Drudge thing and my limited exposure to Limbaugh, he’s a poor target.

  23. Pat Robertson hasn’t owned the Family Channel… for years.

    The article referencing this is from Reason’s January 1997 issue. So, everybody take note of this update before writing your letters.

  24. Atrios’ target was clearly the FCC, not Limbaugh. He wants to embarass the conservative FCC by forcing them to either slap a fine on a conservative talk show host or appear to be hypocrites.

  25. First three paragraphs of my web log entry on this putrid crusade:

    All the top liberal web logs have their thongs in a tangle because Rush Limbaugh made a dick joke on his radio program. Atrios and Oliver Willis think the self-righteous left should rise up and smite the villainous Limbaugh via FCC.

    Yeah, give Rush the old Howard treatment. Sic the feds on him. See how he likes it. More FCC censorship. Cleansing America nipple by nipple and dick joke by dick joke. As Bob Hope used to say, I’ve heard that we’re supposed to surge to the right to get those all important narrow-minded voters, but this is ridiculous.

    Why aren’t we siccing Limbaugh on the Feds instead of the other way round? Why aren’t we mounting a free speech campaign instead of running off to tell momma that Rush said a dirty word? Freedom of speech for Rush and Howard. Fight back against the morality clampdown, don’t join it. We should be sending telegrams to the FCC telling them to stop suppressing free speech.

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