Tuesday, May 30, 2006

And the point of punishing the media is what now?

Regarding the article cited below:
Congress Agrees to Raise Broadcast-Indecency Fines
Conference to Decide Maximum Penalty
By Frank Ahrens
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, May 20, 2006


Okay, okay....to some this is a bigger issue than others, of course, especially if you've got young children of your own. No one's going to disagree that parents have a right to protect (or a duty to dissuade?) their children from broadcast material that's too ribald or sexual or violent for them -- but isn't that what all those religious and family-oriented channels are for, not to mention the hi-tech invention of the V-chip and the low-tech invention of being able to talk to your family in the first place about what gets watched? Doesn't having other people watching out for what your kids watch means they want to control what they see, regardless of your own choices or parental inertia or philosophy?

Not to mention keeping an eye on what other adults are allowed to see or hear....

I think the main question is what the definition of "indecency" is, and who is going to take it on themselves to establish a standard. With the penalties going this high, it's likely to eventually quash a lot more in the way of publically-broadcast material than just what most of us would agree is patently obscene or offensive....I mean, what about that controversial episode of "Postcards From Buster" that was pulled last year or so? It didn't have anything 'indecent' or 'adult' going on, but there was ire enough that a lesbian couple was shown as being 'normal' and human.

And admittedly, this is not referring to cable -- cable TV and satellite radio have argued the case well that not everyone has automatic access to them anyhow. As long as you have to subscribe to it and have the well-enough publicized option of blocking channels and ratings.....well, right, of course. Can't put a damper on paying customers....

But really, what's with the paternalism anyhow? What's with the constant protecting people against what they're likely as not to have seen already, or not be long in encountering? Since when has "realistic human behaviour" been something to be treated like a dirty little secret, when it's a dirty big reality of real life anyhow? Designated children's programming per se is already wholesome and mostly G-rated in content, and kids who have a list of established favourite shows are unlikely to veer off it (I know this from experience--other shows are just boring filler around the things you really want to watch). I'm not in favour of trashfests and tabloid-shows, mind you (most of which currently get by with bleeping out profanity and just being ambiently sleazyin their subjects), but I am worried that these heightened penalties will push more protective self-censorship of things that are only "indecent" if you're a member of the Religious Right with a moral axe to grind. So where's the official line going to be drawn when it comes to letting children (and people without cable/satellite?) be exposed to ideas and social realities that the official powers-that-be don't approve of airing on the (temporarily) open airwaves, and who's qualified to decide what things are best prohibited for the public good?

1 comment:

Tasha Lei said...

Being a mom, I hear a lot of parents griping about what their kids are watching on TV. I tell them the TV isn't meant to be a babysitter, and as parents, it's their job, not the network's, to monitor what their kids are watching.
I tell them the same thing I tell adults who gripe about having to watch things they consider offensive: that there's this new device that's been created called an OFF switch, and it goes hand-in-hand with the channel selector.