Read about everything that pisses me the hell off.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

FCC.. Federal Censorship commission?

Today, we start out with a quote.. Bare with me, it's a long one:

"If we resort for a criterion to the different principles on which different forms of government are established, we may define a republic to be, or at least may bestow that name on, a government which derives all its powers directly or indirectly from the great body of the people, and is administered by persons holding their offices during pleasure, for a limited period, or during good behavior. It is essential to such a government that it be derived from the great body of the society, not from an inconsiderable proportion, or a favored class of it; otherwise a handful of tyrannical nobles, exercising their oppressions by a delegation of their powers, might aspire to the rank of republicans, and claim for their government the honorable title of republic"

What the HELL does that mean, and who in God's name writes like that? Well, the quote comes from the Federalist Papers and was written by James Madison. You know, one of those old dudes with the white wigs that wrote the constitution? History lesson aside, let's take a look at what he's saying here. Madison is saying that in order for a Republic to work, then the "great body of the people", the majority, need to be the ones in control. They vote in their representatives who make decisions based on their wishes. A problem arises when when an "inconsiderable proportion or favored class" are the ones making the rules. Madison also refers to tyrannical nobles. I'm going to be referring to idiot parents. The two are eerily similar.

Now that we're done with history, let's take a look at some math. What percentage of 294,931,434 is one million? .33% That is ONE THIRD of ONE percent. What do those numbers mean? Well, the PTC or Parents Television Council boasts One Million Members... The 294 number? That's the current population of the United States as per the Census' population clock at 1:15pm today. Does one third of one percent sound like a majority to you? Does it sounds like a "great body of the people"? Nah.. doesn't to me either.

What does ANY of this have to do with the FCC? Well it seems that the Federal Censorship Commission has decided to fine Fox television 1.2 million dollars for it's most recent reality stunt involving marriage and strippers. Shit, probably midgets and donkey's too.. Who knows, it's Fox. For that matter, who cares? Well it seems that the PTC care. They are the group of nutjobs out there making TV safe for kids. SO.. They wrote some letters, which is the only way to get the FCC to investigate anything, and BLAMO, Fox gets slapped with a fine. Now, there's arguments back and forth over the number of complaints sent. The FCC says 90, the PTC says 4,000.. who really cares. Even if we go by the PTC's numbers the show aired to 5.1 million people. 4,000 complained. Again, without doing the math, doesn't sound like "a great body of people" to me. To add insult to injury, a majority of the complainants did NOT EVEN WATCH the show!

So what right does the FCC have to levy a fine in the case? Let's take a look. Now, the FCC's FAQ, when asked if they were going to censor religious television, says "No, the FCC does not have the authority to censor programming. " YET, on the OTHER hand their website says "It is a violation of federal law to broadcast obscene programming at any time. It is also a violation of federal law to broadcast indecent programming during certain hours. " So which is it FCC? You ARE or ARE NOT allowed to censor Televsion and Radio? Sounds to me, and Fox TV I'd bet, that the FCC DOES have the ability to censor, to the tune of $1.2 mil.

More history.. I'll make this one short. The FCC was created initially because of Radio. The problem with Radio was that there were a lot of stations and not a lot of frequencies, so someone had to step in and say who could broadcast on what frequency. Blamo the FCC is created. It then was tasked with keeping the airwaves clean. What was the reasoning behind that? Well, since you were using public airwaves, then all programming needed to be suited for public consumption. Sounds reasonable right? Wrong. The OTHER main media at the time, newspapers, were NOT restricted by this. Why? Well because if you didn't like the content of one news paper, you could always just go buy another.. there were enough out there for choice to dictate taste.

Now my question to you... what are there more of now? Radio Stations or Newspapers? Anybody's Radio not have a channel changer?

So what we really do have here are two fundamental violations of our rights. Rule by Minority and Censorship from the government. To be honest, this whole parental thing makes me sick to begin with. If you don't like what's on, then don't use the TV to babysit your children. There were LESS TV and Radio stations around when I was younger, and yet cartoons were what I watched, then I did homework, then I read or played, then I went to bed. Kids to NOT need to watch TV constantly. Honestly, when did EVERYTHING need to be kid safe anyway? That's a topic for another rant though.

The basic fact here is, that a minority of people, the PTC are causing a big problem with a government body, the FCC, and are forcing rule by vocal minority. Something that is the direct antithesis of what the people who wrote the rules wanted! The worst part of all of this, is that the rules for what is "obscene" or "indecent" are VERY VERY vague. Let me quote:

"Obscene speech is not protected by the First Amendment and cannot be broadcast at any time. To be obscene, material must meet a three-prong test:
An average person, applying contemporary community standards, must find that the material, as a whole, appeals to the prurient interest;
The material must depict or describe, in a patently offensive way, sexual conduct specifically defined by applicable law; and
The material, taken as a whole, must lack serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value."

Well well well. SO what are"community standards"? Who determines what is "artistic"? The FCC apparently. Oh. wait. the FCC doesn't actively monitor the airwaves. They only respond to complaints. So I guess that means that the vocal minority determines this. Then they point the FCC broadsword at things THEY feel are inappropriate! Amazing. So what else does the FCC have to say?

"The FCC has defined broadcast indecent as "language or material that, in context, depicts or describes, in terms patently offensive as measured by contemporary community broadcast standards for the broadcast medium, sexual or excretory organs or activities." "

In other words, you can deficate, but you can't take a shit.

They go on to say:

"In making indecent determinations, context is key! The FCC staff must analyze what was actually said during the broadcast, the meaning of what was said, and the context in which it was stated."

Ah.. so does that mean that on TV I can tell someone that they can eat my defication but not eat shit? Wonder if the PTC would complain about a TV character saying "Why don't you go and imbibe some excriment"? Funny. Means the same thing as "Eat shit." Since human beings think in language, and the FCC has the ability to control HOW a thing is say guess that means only one thing. The FCC are the thought police. At least for Radio and TV. As long as the context is okay, in their opinion, then we can go about our merry way. Well how benevolent of them. Ya know, come to think of it.. what was James Madison saying up above about "the great body of people" Weren't they supposed to ELECT someone? Hmm.. when was the last time anyone voted in a board member for the FCC?

Bottom line, the control we have over things slips a little further each and every day. Now the PTC is telling us what we can and can't have on TV and listen to, because it violates their morality. Well last time I checked, Christian TV wasn't pulling the ratings. Why? Because. Murder, sex, theft, crime and violence are INTERESTING. They are things we DON'T SEE or TAKE PART in every day. Reality TV aside... It's STILL television and it's there to ENTERTAIN. Sister Arthur's lectures about my eternal soul just aren't nearly as entertaining as strippers. Sorry Sister. It's the truth.

Since I started with a quote, I only find it fitting that I end with a quote. Well, in honor of the PTC and the FCC, I think I'll end this with one of my favorite George Carlin bits. I 'm sure you'll recongize it.

"I love words. I thank you for hearing my words.I want to tell you something about words that I think is important.They're my work, they're my play, they're my passion.Words are all we have, really. We have thoughts but thoughts are fluid.then we assign a word to a thought and we're stuck with that word forthat thought, so be careful with words. I like to think that the samewords that hurt can heal, it is a matter of how you pick them.There are some people that are not into all the words.There are some that would have you not use certain words.There are 400,000 words in the English language and there are 7of them you can't say on television. What a ratio that is.399,993 to 7. They must really be bad. They'd have to be outrageousto be seperated from a group that large. All of you over here,you 7,Bad Words. That's what they told us they were, remember?"That's a bad word!" No bad words, bad thoughts, bad intentions,and words. You know the 7, don't you, that you can't say on television?"Shit, Piss, Fuck, Cunt, CockSucker, MotherFucker, and Tits"Those are the heavy seven. Those are the ones that'll infect your soul,curve your spine, and keep the country from winning the war."

* As a footnote to this, the firewall at work wouldn't let me dig up the text for this on the first couple sites. Due to indecent language.


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