On the Air, Everywhere

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In a story about the crusade against "indecency" on TV and radio, Boston Phoenix media critic Dan Kennedy suggests how content regulation could be extended to cable TV, satellite TV and radio, and even the Internet: Like broadcast TV and radio, all use "the public airwaves" to some extent. Satellite signals travel through the air, cable companies get programming off satellites, and people increasingly have wireless access to the Internet.

As Kennedy notes, the "scarcity" rationale that supposedly justified government control of the airwaves is looking quainter every day. Americans can choose from a plethora of media options, and exactly how programming gets to them is a distinction without a difference. But that realization could result in more censorship rather than less.

For politicians who want to protect children from fictional sex and violence, the criteria for content regulation seem to be prevalence and accessibility (which is why they focus on basic cable rather than premium channels). These are the two characteristics of broadcasting that the Supreme Court emphasized in its 1978 decision upholding the FCC's indecency rules. With cable or satellite TV in 85 percent of American homes, broadcasting is no longer uniquely pervasive. As for accessibility, critics of indecency do not think it's reasonable to expect parents to restrict their kids' access to TV, monitor what they watch, or do without TV altogether. Hence they view a naked woman on FX as a sort of public nuisance, not much different from a naked woman walking down the street. The "public airwaves" have nothing to do with it.

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  1. I have a question for everyone who believes “TVs have an off button” is end of any conversation about indecency:

    If you had a seven year old child, and you were determined to keep him from learing about the Runaway Bride, how successful do you think you would be?

  2. Protecting “the children” from “evil” content is fig leaf. They really don’t want adults to have it, and they only way to justify it is to slap a for the children.

    When I was 8 years old, I would sneak into my 20 year old cousin’s Playboy stash. How much easier is it now for enterprising little men? No matter how hard you try, you can’t change human nature.

    Let’s see… The gubmit can’t stop 50 million people from smoking a physical substance. How successful will they be at banning something in higher demand, and requires no physical presence?

  3. Whoa, typos galore. It must be Friday.

    Please excuse the messy post above.

  4. Joe-The question is whether one has the right to use the coercive power of government to remake the world in a manner safe for seven-year-old children of overprotective parents.

  5. Golly joe, you don’t even need an off button to prevent kids from watching shows with excessive sex or violence. All we need is some sort of chip that?s mandated by the government to be in every TV that will block shows deemed offensive or with a rating above TV-13. We could call it the N-Chip (N for ninny) and have all TVs come with them standard. What?s that? We already have something like that called a V-Chip? Then why the hell are we having this conversation?

    I wish there was a way to make the V-Chip turn edited TV versions of movies into the unedited versions with all the nudity and swear words intact. I watched Austin Powers on TBS and they cut out some double entendres, but not others. It seemed like it was completely arbitrary and ruined the movie for me.

    Joe, pretty easily. Block off all cable news channels. Make my TV lock itself after 10 PM and during the usual daytime news hours, I believe 5 PM. If the 7 year old caught any wind of it, it would only be in teaser promos for the news. Any other brain busters?

  6. Here’s another question: if you had a seven-year-old child, and you were determined to prevent him from learning about anything you, personally, found objectionable, how successful do you think the child will be upon reaching adulthood?

    When I was in college you could always tell which kids had been overprotected in their youth–they were the ones who went completely hog-wild and acted out in a lot of stupidly dangerous ways.

  7. I’ve also seen justifications that the FCC can regulate cable contained within arguments calling for the return of the Fairness Doctrine.

  8. —How successful will they be at banning something in higher demand, and requires no physical presence?—

    ‘lack of physical presence’ may very well be the cause of the porn problem. A little more physical reality may reduce the need for non-physical fantasy.

    So how to increase physical presence/reality, thereby reducing the need for porn?

    AHA! Legalize prostitution!

    Quick, get the Family Repression.., um, Family Research Council on the phone.

    Think they’ll go for it?

  9. I think the general consensus among first amendmont profs is that if the same case went to the Supreme Court today, Pacifica would win.

  10. “If you had a seven year old child, and you were determined to keep him from learing about the Runaway Bride, how successful do you think you would be?”

    My question is: Why would I want to? As far as I know, there was nothing obvertly “offensive” (whatever the hell that means) in the story. Just the tale ditzy girl who did some stupid things to get away from her boyfriend. It’s hardly something you’d want to keep from the tender ears of a 7-year-old.

  11. Ugh- Betting on any rollback or curtailing of state power is always a bad idea. I’m not sure what it is your profs based their opinion on, but the safest presumption is always that the government will win. If you doubt me, just wait for Kelo v. New London to come down. If the Supremes do anything other than affirm eminent domain or simply prevaricate by focusing on legal minutiea, I will buy a webcam and allow all the reasonistas to watch me eat my hat. I’ll do the same if the next legislative session doesn’t feature a genuine attempt to bring basic cable under the control of the FCC’s indecency rules.

  12. Ugh-Somehow, I got ‘your’ profs out of ‘first amendment law profs.’ What can I say? It’s Friday.

  13. Joe, I’ll take a stab. It depends on the relationship you have with your seven year old. Even if you had chosen something that I really didn’t want my child to see (like the Nick Berg beheading), I still wouldn’t want the government’s (or anyone else’s) help to make sure that my child wouldn’t see it.

  14. Not to be especially picking on Joe today, but:

    I have a question for everyone who believes “TVs have an off button” is end of any conversation about indecency:

    If you had a seven year old child, and you were determined to keep him from learing about the Runaway Bride, how successful do you think you would be?

    If I had a seven-year-old child and wanted to keep him from hearing demented non sequitors (what was “indecent” about the Runaway Bride story?), how successful do you think I would be?

  15. Protecting “the children” from “evil” content is fig leaf. They really don’t want adults to have it, and they only way to justify it is to slap a for the children.

    I totally agree with this. When I was a kid, my mom let me watch pretty much anything I wanted. Maybe she was reckless in assuming that I wouldn’t turn out to be a serial killer or child rapist, but… oh well, at least it was her choice.

    I think the “harm” that TV sex and violence supposedly cause children is WAY overrated.

  16. Dear, FCC/MPAA:

    Ogg/Theora + BitTorrent + RSS + SSL = kiss my ass

    Have a nice day …

    — The Internet

  17. CodeMonkeySteve,

    Indeed. Very little on tv is worth watching anymore.

  18. I actually have a 7 year old, and we were pretty succesful in keeping him away form that story.

    How?

    Don’t put on the TV news. There are plenty of kid’s channels broadcasting during the 3 or 4 hours of TV he watches. We get all our news from the internet anyway!

  19. There was a naked woman on FX?

    “You know, Fox turned into a hardcore sex channel so gradually, I didn’t even notice.” – Marge Simpson.

  20. Ummmmm……. the content providers WANT THIS, folks. In fact, they’re quietly LOBBYING FOR IT right now.

    Why?

    A cuz once it gits reg-u-ma-lated, they can CHARGE MORE for it. People will pay out the a-hole for titillation, so why let a bunch of dopes give it away for free, or even provide it for a de minimis cost as part of a cable or satellite package when instead, they could make $5, 10, 20, or $39.95 a pop selling it all as pay per view (or listen)? Look how much they’ll pay for HBO? What a paradise it would be if EVERY channel with obsenity on it were the cash cow that HBO is!!!

    As long as said dopes are ALLOWED TO give it away on the cheap, how on earth can the big media conglomerates snort up mountainous piles of mega-profit from it?

    They CAN’T.

    Hence the need for “censorship.”

    The spin is always “its for the children.” But the reality is those same “oppressed” content providers are paying Washington lobbyists a big fat assload of money to get this to happen. They’re sick of cable outlets only paying them 1.50 a month or whatever for Comedy Central. Why not have individual subscribers paying 9.95 A PIECE to maintain access to the “smut” they’ve become accustomed to? If HBO can get millions of subscribers at 20 a month or whatever, why can’t Comedy Central, MTV, Vh1 or any other channel do the same?

    In essence, what this is, is the media conglomerates wanting to test the limits of a new and gaudy price re-structuring, but want the govt to play the heavy. See how this works? “WE don’t want to charge you more… it’s that crazy GOVERNMENT always keepin’ us down that’s doin’ it. That’ll be $128.50 please.” And don’t forget, there will be sales tax on these new revenues. Who’d argue with “tax the sinners”? Nobody in Bushie land!

    And the coup de grace is: The ever spineless pols get to kill two birds with one stone: they rake in the big-media lobby dollars; while getting to play Hero to the howling hordes of morons from think-of-the-children-land.

    So everybody wins. Mostly everybody.

  21. If you had a seven year old child, and you were determined to keep him from learning about the Runaway Bride, how successful do you think you would be?

    If I was so delusional as to come up with the idea of protecting the child from such things, I think I’d be pretty successful.

  22. Why bother putting chips in the TVs, when we can simply put them in the kids!

    A simple circuit that shuts down the perception center of the brain whenever “bad” sights or sounds occur will fix all problems!

  23. Mo, I guess your theoretical child won’t have any friends. Or technical skills.

    I gotta give you props for actually making an effort to consider and answer the question, though. Everyone else just ducked.

  24. No, Joe. I gave you a direct answer about why you were posing the wrong question. Others treated your question with exactly as much seriousness as it deserved.

  25. joe,
    Well, If I’m trying to shelter my kid from the entire world, my theoretical child won’t have any friends anyways. As far as technical skills, at 7 I doubt the kid will be able to hack the TV above and beyond what I set up. Once that kid hits 11 is when I start to worry. Of course, my theoretical kid will be able to see wierder shit on the interent than anything TV has to offer, so I won’t need to block it. Unless I missed the barnyard girls hour.

    I’m giddy today, I just found out I got a scholarship for my MBA next year.

  26. “As long as said dopes are ALLOWED TO give it away on the cheap, how on earth can the big media conglomerates snort up mountainous piles of mega-profit from it?”

    Advertising?

  27. “No, Joe. I gave you a direct answer about why you were posing the wrong question.”

    In other words, ducked. Tried to change the subject. Found yourself in a tight spot, and tried to shift the conversation to more defensible territory.

    Which is all well and good – the idea that invoking the off button obviates the problem of broadcast indecency is a foolish delusion, and best abandoned. Yet somehow, I sense that the argument that parents can control their what their kids see on television because tvs have an off button will continue to be thrown out as a convesation stopper. Call it a hunch.

  28. Joe:

    1. Homeschool your kid and be certain that s/he doesn’t have any social interaction with other kids who may have heard of the Runaway Bride.

    2. Find a heavily religious community and/or school to associate yourself with to be certain that under no circumstances, ever, will your child hear of the Runaway Bride.

    In both cases you would have a much reduced likelihood of having your child exposed to the Runaway Bride story, either through conversation, newspapers, radio, etc. I am assuming that you would be sure to have very limited internet access as well (and, of course, no TV).

    Ah, and there is always the option to go do ministry work or something living in the wilds of Africa or any other 3rd world nation.

    These are rather drastic measues, of course. So your point is taken: it’s difficult to prevent exposure to the Runaway Bride, even if you kept the TV off in your house.

    But, it’s not impossible. There are ways to do it.

    Still, I’d rather it be YOUR choice to do what it takes to keep your kid from being exposed to things that you don’t like, rather than there not being a choice at all because only items that someone ELSE decides is OKAY for kids is allowed. Perhaps I’m over-reading, but that seems to me to be the other option.

    I would think that a well-socialized, functional child would be able to adjust to the good and bad of life, yes? It might not be possible to escape the Runaway Bride, but mostly because society has accepted it as a media story, relatively kid safe. You probably don’t have much to worry about when it comes to items that society generally thinks is bad for kids, like HBO soft-core (although, god help us, there is the MJ trail. Ech).

  29. Joe, I don’t think I “ducked.” I have a boy who’s almost 6, so I’ve thought about this issue quite a bit. How successful would I be in keeping my boy from seeing something I didn’t want him to see? Very. What makes you think it would be difficult?

  30. Joe:

    Since I didn’t know about the runaway bride until I watched several-day-old Daily Show off my TiVo, I’d have to say: pretty successful.

    But more importantly, there’s a meta-question you’re not asking, which is: how do you decide what pop-culture/indecency/etc to plug into your question in place of ‘the runaway bride’?

    How does anyone decide *that* for someone else?

    I’m offended by the 700 Club. Can I get that taken off basic cable?

  31. Joe, you can only duck a real question.

  32. I should add that I am sure, that as he gets older, my son will see things I’d rather he didn’t, as every child does in the process of growing up. But that’s where our relationship comes in. What do you think the government can do in the arena of “decency” that will help my child grow up to be a happier or healthier adult?

  33. I’m offended by the 700 Club. Can I get that taken off basic cable?

    Amen, brother isildur.

  34. Congratulations, Mo! I just left my miserable old job for the last time today, and start my cool new one Monday, so I guess we’ll both be pretty psyched this weekend.

    Joe, I really am disturbed by your question about sheltering the seven-year-old, and rather than tell you why I’ll ask the same question in slightly different versions:

    What if an atheist (me, say) had a seven-year-old and wanted to keep her from learning that religion might be a good and useful thing in some people’s lives, rather than an evil force which turns people (Thoreau and you, say) into murderous fanatics?

    What if a religious fundamentalist had a seven-year-old and wanted to keep her from learning that she doesn’t have to be a wife’n’mommy when she’s sixteen, if she doesn’t want to be?

    What if a creation scientist had a seven-year-old and wanted to keep him from learning that the world is more than 5,000 years old?

    What if a Mafioso had a seven-year-old and wanted to keep her from learning that the world is full of people who think Daddy’s job is evil?

    What if a pedophile had a seven-year-old and wanted to keep him from learning that getting ass-raped by Daddy every night isn’t something American children are legally obligated to endure?

    Yes, Joe, I know some of these are extreme examples. But I brought up a similar question last time this topic was discussed on a thread, and you didn’t respond. What really bothers me about your attitude here, even more than the idea that MY viewing choices must be curtailed in light of YOUR child-rearing opinions, is the inference that children aren’t little people in their own right, but mere extensions of their parents’ personalities, and thus the parents should naturally have complete control of any and all ideas to which their kids might be exposed.

    Just out of curiosity, how many years do you think those seven-year-olds should wait until they’re old enough to discover things which their parents may not have on the ‘approved’ list?

  35. “No, Joe. I gave you a direct answer about why you were posing the wrong question.”

    In other words, ducked. Tried to change the subject. Found yourself in a tight spot, and tried to shift the conversation to more defensible territory.

    Unlike some others, I’m not going to try to guess your point and write a rebuttal. I’ll just ask point-blank:

    Joe, what do you believe your Runaway Bride question has to do with indecency? What is it that you think we’re ducking?

  36. Eric,

    The story was something that was pervuasive in the broadcast media. The point is always made that parents can “just use the off button” to prevent their kids from seeing stuff they don’t want them to see on tv. The point of the question was to stimulate thought about how true that assertion is.

    Jennifer, the “who decides” question is quite the sticking point, I agree. But then, how loud does a party have to be for the cops to break it up? How late at night? How bad does a driver have to drive to justify a Driving to Endanger charge? The existence of close cases doesn’t suggest to me that no parties ever get too loud too late at night, nor that no driving is ever bad enough to justify DTE.

  37. No, Joe, but what you’re suggesting is analogous to letting the cops decide who gets to have parties or go driving at all, and using a blanket rule to apply to everybody. More to the point, the noise of a party can’t be turned off with a button, while reckless driving can cause noticeable harm to uninvolved people. TV shows do not match either standard.

    On Sunday night I was watching the Seth MacFarlane cartoons on Fox’s “Animation Domination,” a name they chose because they couldn’t call it the “Fuck you if you don’t like it Hour.” And it seemed like every damned commercial break they pointed out that shows nowadays have ratings, and if you don’t want your kids to see shows with certain ratings then there’s this thing called a ‘V-chip’ which you can use to block out certain channels when you’re not home. Why not make use of that, to ensure your seven-year-old doesn’t watch Family Guy or American Dad or anything else you deem inappropriate?

    And, lest you or anyone else say “But why should I have to go through all that trouble when I’m not even asking to be bombarded by all these TV broadcast rays pouring uninvited into my home:”

    Because they are YOUR kids, not mine. I’m not going to harm them, and I’d probably help them if I saw they were in imminent danger (as when I saw a toddler run ahead of her mother, about to go past me and run into traffic, and I stopped her), but to say in effect that the entire broadcast media must conform to your standards of what is appropriate for children is an appalling solipsism.

  38. And a solipsism quite unworthy of you, Joe.

  39. I thought it was just a rhetorical question.

    Of course it’s damn near impossible to keep the kid from finding out about the runaway bride.

    So…. IMO, the implication of that is censorship is pointless because kids’ll find stuff out whether you hook em up to a boob tube or not.

    Not sure if that’s what Joe was gunning for there, but that’s how i interpreted it.

  40. The story was something that was pervuasive in the broadcast media. The point is always made that parents can “just use the off button” to prevent their kids from seeing stuff they don’t want them to see on tv.

    Remember that little dustup in 1989 in Tiananmen Square? I was ten years old when that happened. Now, granted this was in the days before the 24 Nooze Cycle, but the coverage was as saturated as it gets, at least for those days. You couldn’t move the dial without seeing video footage of a guy standing in front of a line of tanks.

    Being ten years old, I was simply pissed that my morning cartoons were being pre-empted by a bunch of people standing around in some other country.

    So, at the ripe old age of ten I reached up, turned the damned thing off, and went outside to play.

    The lesson here being that your hypothetical seven year old probably doesn’t give a tinker’s damn about runaway brides, Michael Jackson, Janet Jackson, white stains on blue dresses or blue stains on white dresses.

  41. joe,

    If you’ve raised a kid for the first seven years of his life and a couple of stupid TV news stories are going to screw him up, it’s probably because he’s been screwed up by the first seven years of his parenting.

  42. The story was something that was pervuasive in the broadcast media. The point is always made that parents can “just use the off button” to prevent their kids from seeing stuff they don’t want them to see on tv. The point of the question was to stimulate thought about how true that assertion is.

    Well, in the first place, that’s an abusively vague analogy. It doesn’t sound reasonable to equate “hiding any mention of the facts of an incident in the news” with “hiding specific, indecent material.” It’d be more analogous to “hiding any mention of sex or sex-related matters”. I don’t think we have to worry much about countering people demanding a return to separate-beds 50s TV propriety, but…

    In the second place, people have answered you. We have ratings systems, cable and satellite boxes that let you restrict what shows your kids can watch, V-chips crammed into TVs to do the same things, and, if we get off our asses, the ability to monitor our kids’ viewing habits, and if all else somehow fails the ability to get rid of the damn TV.

    In the third place, if you don’t find the points I just listed the most convincing points in the whole debate…Well, they’re not meant to be. They’re not the ideological root of free speech. The point is meant to signal that the other side is making an unreasonable demand – that all TV must be seven-year-old-proofed so they can sit their kids in front of the tube without having to be responsible for their children. Depending on circumstance and tone, that used as a friendly reminder along the lines of “hey, you’re not an incompetent parent, don’t sweat, you can manage this” or as a “Dammit, go away, no one’s cramming porn under your family’s eyelids” dismissal.

  43. as when I saw a toddler run ahead of her mother, about to go past me and run into traffic, and I stopped her

    Alex Rodriguez, you can’t hide behind your “Jennifer” person anymore. We’ve found you out.

  44. [rant]
    Joe,

    I hate to be the one to break it to you, but some day in the next 30 years, your daughter is going to see a man naked. Get used to it. Kids grow up. You can’t protect her from everything.

    I have a seven year old daughter too, but I’m teaching her how to be responsible for herself. Not subservient to me for the rest of my life.

    The end. [/rant]

  45. Gracias Jennifer. Look out Red America, here comes Mo!

  46. Regulator–
    Huh?

  47. Regulator–
    Huh?

    Jennifer —

    Alex Rodriguez (plays 3rd base for the New York Yankees and makes $25 million a year, just in case ya didn’t know; my apologies if you did) recently pulled a kid out of the way of an oncoming car.

    http://www.nydailynews.com/sports/baseball/story/300216p-257014c.html

  48. Isn’t this whole thing more about the “Ostrich complex” that people have regarding their children. They’d much rather bury their heads in the sand than have an awkward conversation with the kids. I think that it’s the fear of confronting issues and explaining the truth that drives most censorship.

    Really, how many kids’ problems could be eliminated if their parents talked to them every once in while? It’s certainly easier to pretend we live in a world where people don’t fuck, say fuck, drink, smoke, get high, etc. but it doesn’t seem to be effective.

  49. Actually, Jennifer, I haven’t suggested anything. You seem to be jumping ahead.

    I’m not big on government censorship, either, but the discourse on the topic around here is fill of big fat fallacies, and needs to have the bugs worked out before it undermines the cause.

  50. For example, kmw’s smug assumption that I’m terrified by the thought of nekkid bodies. Zero content, zero intellectual contribution, just empty speculation about the motives of anyone who asks tough questions about The Creed.

    Or Eric .5b’s assumption that the tv in your home is the only exposure your kids are going to have to the media. Eric, you really think you could prevent your kid from hearing about the Runaway Bride story by blocking access to your own teevee? I’m going to have to go back to my observation that kids have friends.

  51. Joe, I’m still not sure why you’re fixated on the runaway bride story (a woman gets nervous about getting married and runs away and foolishly makes up a story to cover for her fear; sounds more like an opportunity to talk about how easy it is to make bad choices when you get really scared). But anyway, kids will always hear things and see things you don’t want them to, just as everyone here saw and heard things our parents didn’t want us to. And it’s always worse in the minds of the parents than it is for the lives of the children.

    I’m confused as to what kind of answers you’re looking for.

  52. When I was a little kid there was no South Park. There was no gangsta rap. The closest we got to porn was the occasional glimpse at a ragtag Tijuana Bible or a copy of Playboy that some kid had filched from an older sibling. We came without exception from religious families. And I can tell you, most of us cussed like stevedores. Were we like Stan, Kyle and Cartman? No…we were worse. The point is, we all turned out OK. The problems we had in our lives had nothing to do with our exposure to naughty bits or violence.
    It all worked out – so everybody lighten the fug up, OK?

  53. Well then, Joe, what point are you making? What are these fallacies to which you refer? If you’re upset because it’s impossible to completely shield children from stories like the Runaway Bride then I do not understand why. The topic here is how the government might apply indecency standards to pretty much all non-print electronic media, and you seem to imply that this might be necessary because your seven-year-old couldn’t interact with the world around her without risking learning about the Runaway Bride? And this is relevant somehow to whether or not the government should regulate pay TV and the Internet, to ensure the content meets government-appointed standards of what is decent.

    You know, I’ve never seen an episode of the show “Friends” and I’ve never read anything about the show, yet I still know the names of all six main characters and five of the actors who play them. I don’t see how I could have avoided learning this, without completely walling myself off from society. Should I raise a fuss about the fact that I can’t get through life without absorbing all this knowledge I never wanted to learn?

  54. For politicians who want to protect children from fictional sex and violence, the criteria for content regulation seem to be prevalence and accessibility (which is why they focus on basic cable rather than premium channels). These are the two characteristics of broadcasting that the Supreme Court emphasized in its 1978 decision upholding the FCC’s indecency rules.

    There was also something in there about “offensive to community standards.”

    With cable or satellite TV in 85 percent of American homes, broadcasting is no longer uniquely pervasive.

    If 85 percent of the people running American homes voluntarily pay extra for cable or satellite, it’s pretty hard to convince me the programming is “offensive to community standards.” Particularly since the heads of any household can block any channel they object to.

  55. I tell you where we went wrong: declaring that the electromagnetic spectrum was the common “property” of the people. If it belonged to the scientists and engineers who discovered it and learned how to use it, their heirs, assigns or business partners, media regulation would be a whole `nother thing.

    If I had a 7-year-old boy, and he was exposed to the Runaway Bride phenomenon, I would just sit him down and explain that the girl’s cooties had finally burrowed deep into her brain and driven her mad.

    If I had a 7-year-old girl, I’d let her Mommy explain that the Bride had finnaly realized that all boys are icky, something I hope she would keep close to her heart until she had a PhD, a job, and her own apartment.

    Case closed.

    Kevin

  56. Or Eric .5b’s assumption that the tv in your home is the only exposure your kids are going to have to the media. Eric, you really think you could prevent your kid from hearing about the Runaway Bride story by blocking access to your own teevee? I’m going to have to go back to my observation that kids have friends.

    Too true! I mean, geeze, you’d have to rely on the idea that parents have any responsibility or any degree of control whatsoever over who their kids associate with. That’s just nuts.

  57. Joe Sez:

    For example, kmw’s smug assumption that I’m terrified by the thought of nekkid bodies. Zero content, zero intellectual contribution, just empty speculation about the motives of anyone who asks tough questions about The Creed.

    Sweet! Joe called me smug! Can I be the new Gary Gunnels now?

  58. A naked woman on TV: “not much different from a naked woman walking down the street.”

    That’s the thought-provoking part of this post.

    The hardcore (crypto-anarchist) “Libertarian” would say: “Hey, what’s so bad about naked women walking down the street?”
    And I’d be inclined to agree, but the majority of American voters wouldn’t.
    (Skirting the whole ‘Libertarians vs. Democracy’ thing,) I’m still left wondering if there’s any specifically “Libertarian” reason to say that a naked man on TV is ‘more OK’ than a naked man walking around on the public land in front of your house?
    I mean…is the electromagnetic spectrum somehow “more private” than Yellowstone Park?
    Is an ‘Off Switch’ all that much more effective than ‘Curtains?’

  59. …public land in front of your house?

    Well, there’s your problem right there, McClain. If that land were owned privately, the individual or group that held title to it could ban or allow as much or as little nekkidness as they liked. Some would live on Bare-Ass Drive, while others would opt for Granny Dress Way. No worries.

    Kevin

  60. Jennifer, I’ve said it before, but I’ll be happy to say it again for your benefit:

    I brought up the Runaway Bride story as a thought experiment, to test the facile assertion that is often made that, since TVs have off switches, parents have all the tools they need to shield their kids from media that they disapprove of. Hardcore porn at 10 AM? Hey, no worries, you have an off botton on your remote!

    There’s nothing about the Runway Bride story in particular that makes it relevant to the issue of indecency – it’s just a standin for any given imagery that is pervuasive in the media.

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