December 1, 2005

Bookstore Can Appeal Obscenity Case to Canadian Supreme Court

Posted by Chris Zammarelli
November 22, 2005 @ 5:42 am
Filed under: Obscene!, Government, Indecency, Courts

The Canadian Supreme Court has agreed to hear an appeal by Little Sisters Book and Art Emporium. The bookstore had requested government subsidies to fund its fight with Canadian Customs over gay- and BSDM-themed materials seized on the basis of obscenity. The request was previously denied.

Little Sisters co-owner Jim Deva said that it was impossible for the store to pay the $500K to $1m that it would cost to challenge Customs in court.




Mississippi Mayor Raids Adult Bookstore

Posted by Amanda Toering
November 14, 2005 @ 9:32 am
Filed under: Obscene!, Government

This story was sent in by SpeakSpeak reader Lexxfan. From WLBT in Jackson, MS:

A Jackson adult video store is back open, one day after the mayor and police locked the doors.

The owner of the McDowell road adult video and bookstore was also arrested, and several items were taken as evidence.

Charles Hobby, says he has operated the bookstore for four years without any problems, so he was surprised when Mayor Frank Melton, and police showed up on his doorstep.

It started with a raid at an adult bookstore on Terry road the last week of July.

One arrest was made, sex toys were confiscated, and the store closed by the city.

Now Jackson Police and Mayor Frank Melton have set their sights on the adult bookstore on McDowell road.

Charles Hobby says, “We haven’t violated no law, he puts a key on the door and locks us up, then sends his people out last night and confiscates all my novelties.”

The wall where the sex toys were displayed is now empty, about ten grand worth, taken by police during Monday’s unscheduled visit by the mayor and several detectives.

Hobby, who was arrested, says for four years he’s operated quietly with a city permit, and within the law, even though state law says selling sex toys is illegal.

Hobby says, “We have got a license on the bulletin board right there the city issued us to do just that and that’s the way we’ve been operating.”

We were taken on a tour of a the store, and into a back area with private booths, where customers can sit and watch videos.

Police say they found more violations there.

Jackson Mayor Frank Melton says he found two men involved in an inappropriate act, but managers here at the store say there was no one back here at the time.

Hobby says, “I just got done reviewing the tape and there was nobody in that room.”

Charles Hobby says the entire raid was captured by security cameras, and as far as he’s concerned he’s done nothing wrong.

Mayor Frank Melton declined to comment on camera Tuesday, but he did say he will continue to shut down the bookstore as long as they continue to operate.

Charles hobby says he’s hired a lawyer, and will fight to keep his business open.

Melton, a Democrat, is mayor of a city that ranks 10th in overall crime in urban areas. He’s also declared “zero tolerance” for moving violations.

Guess dealing with horny people and stoplight scofflaws is much easier than dealing with the city’s rampant crime.

The Jackson Free Press hosts a blog devoted to Melton.




“Breasts Not Bombs” Arrest

Posted by Eric Jaffa
November 9, 2005 @ 9:12 am
Filed under: Obscene!, FCC, Free Speech, Government

Two women were arrested Monday in Sacramento, California, at a Breasts Not Bombs protest at the state Capitol:

Sheryl Glaser, 45, and Renee Love, 40, of the group Breasts Not Bombs removed their shirts during the noon protest and were taken into custody by the California Highway Patrol.

They were arrested on suspicion of indecent exposure, disorderly conduct and violation of the terms of their protest permit.

Read more about what Breasts Not Bombs stands for.




Topless Protest Busted

Posted by Amanda Toering
November 5, 2005 @ 11:49 am
Filed under: Obscene!, Free Speech?

The protest plans of a Northern California anti-war group have been nixed by a federal judge. A group of Mendocino women had planned a “Breasts Not Bombs” rally at the state capitol in Sacramento. A US district judge put the kibosh on the mammaries, however, saying that going topless doesn’t constitute free expression.

From the San Francisco Chronicle:

U.S. District Judge Garland Burrell said the group made no compelling argument that showing their breasts constitutes free speech.

“Being topless is not inherently expressive” speech, Burrell said. The group, Breasts Not Bombs, had scheduled a protest for noon Monday. The California Highway Patrol threatened to arrest anyone who went topless.

Sherry Glaser, a leader of the group, said the protest may take place without bare breasts.

“All we really have is the power of ourselves,” she said. “Our bodies bring attention.”

Group members, whose protest on the west steps of the Capitol is intended to contrast the “indecent” initiatives backed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on the November ballot with their “natural and decent” breasts, sought a temporary restraining order prohibiting CHP officers from arresting women who protest topless.

The First Amendment protects their right to protest bare breasted, the group argued. “The very act is a dynamic and fully expressive statement worthy of constitutional protection,” their brief asserts.

But Burrell didn’t buy that argument.

“Do you think the founding fathers had this in mind when they drafted the First Amendment?” he asked Matthew Kumin, the lawyer representing Breasts Not Bombs.

Lawyers for the state said no previous group has been allowed to protest on Capitol grounds unclothed. Those protesters who have disrobed were ordered to put their clothes on or face arrest.

“It has always been our policy that we do not allow nudity on the Capitol’s grounds,” said Tom Marshall, a CHP spokesman.

Allowing public nudity on the Capitol grounds would also be disruptive and possibly dangerous, the state argued.

“The state Capitol is a destination for California residents and tourists from around the world. Hundreds of California schoolchildren visit on a daily basis. They often enjoy their lunch on the west steps of the Capitol,” the lawyers for the attorney general’s office wrote.

“What visitors to the Capitol do not and cannot expect is to see topless adults and children engaged in public nudity under the guise of political protest.”

« What is indecency? »

A Bay Area Craigslist posting issuing a call to arms for topless activists reads as follows:

We have a message for Mr. Schwarzenegger:

* Special Elections are indecent! * Groping women in elevators is indecent!

* School budget cuts are indecent! * Violence against women is indecent!

* Threatening teachers is indecent! Disrespecting nurses is indecent!

* Redistricting for political gain is indecent! Driving a Hummer is indecent!

* War is indecent! Poverty is indecent! Hunger is indecent! Fixing elections is indecent!

* Interfering with a woman’s right to choose is indecent! Discrimination because of sexual orientation is indecent!

It’s time to expose the real boobs among us!

Breasts are NOT indecent! Baring our breasts, even being totally nude in a political demonstration, is protected by the First Amendment and affirmed by a US Appellate Court

We invite you to join us to bare witness to the outrageous behavior of the governor and let the public know that we are paying attention and unwilling to be silent or bullied into submission.

Join us in a display of simple emotional theater as a nonviolent response to the buying and selling of Democracy in this country….

Men are welcome as they have breasts too.

California will hold a tremendously expensive and highly unpopular special election this coming Tuesday. The ballot is stacked with Governor Schwarzenegger’s pet propositions (on which he has spent over $7 million of his own money, according to newspaper reports).

Breasts Not Bombs recently held rallies in Ashland, OR; and Washington, DC.




Religious Group in North Dakota Blocks Performances by Dance Group Featuring Thunder, Down Under

Posted by Amanda Toering
October 31, 2005 @ 12:19 pm
Filed under: Obscene!, Right Watch

A world-traveling dance group from Australia has been banned from performing in a small North Dakota town after the town council received complaints from local religious leaders.

From the Perth (Australia) Sunday Times:

Australia’s Thunder from Down Under male dancers have been banned after protests from local religious leaders.

A spokeswoman for the show called the vote a shocking form of censorship.

Jamestown, North Dakota, Mayor Charlie Kourajian and two councillors voted to cancel the dancers’ contract. Two other councillors voted against the move.

The show, scheduled for Thursday at the Jamestown Civic Centre, was booked about three months ago.

Penny Levin, spokeswoman for Australia’s Thunder from Down Under, said it was tasteful adult entertainment, tailored for various audiences.

“We’re not heathens,” she said. “No one is being forced to buy a ticket or see the show, but now people are being forced to not see it.”

Jamestown Ministerial Association presented a petition to the Civic Centre and Promotions Committee on Tuesday to protest at what pastors called a strip show.

Welcome to the U S of A, heathens!

The real question is why the “Vegas-style male revue” booked a show in Jamestown, ND, in the first place. Jamestown bills itself as “midway between Bismarck (the state capitol) and Fargo (the state’s largest city) [which] makes this a great place to stop and visit!”

Jamestown’s sales pitch continues:

Jamestown is also home to The World’s Largest Buffalo, the National Buffalo Museum, and the North Dakota Sports Hall of Fame. Jamestown offers something for everyone!

Known as the “Pride of the Prairie”, Jamestown extends friendly hospitality to all visitors. Whether touring the Frontier Village and viewing our live herd of buffalo, visiting our historical sites, or joining us for a tournament at one of our sporting complexes, we are sure you will enjoy Jamestown. A year-round vacation area, Jamestown also offers a variety of entertainment, excellent motel accommodations, and fine dining to make your visit an unforgettable experience.

Guess they didn’t want the experience to be too unforgettable.

You can learn more about the hunky Thunder from Down Under at their website (which, as far as I can tell, is sort of mostly safe for work; you take your chances, though).




Penis Costume Lands Student’s Expulsion, Sexual Harassment Charge

Posted by Amanda Toering
October 20, 2005 @ 12:11 pm
Filed under: Obscene!

From KIRO-TV, Seattle:

A Steilacoom student is fighting a decision by school officials to suspend him for three days after he appeared in an inflatable penis costume outside another school’s homecoming dance, KIRO 7 Eyewitness News reported.

Pioneer Middle School student James Watkins bought the costume last weekend and later showed up outside a dance at Steilacoom High School wearing the outfit.

His parents described Watkins as a straight-A student, an athlete and a “good kid” who made a mistake. They said the three-day suspension, along with a sexual harassment citation, are too severe.

“He wasn’t even on his own school grounds,” said Mark Watkins, his father. “Poor decision, I agree. Disciplinary action? I agree. I think they went way too far.”

“The thing I felt was wrong was that they weren’t giving us any rights for a first offense,” said Lori Watkins, James’ mother. “I don’t like the sexual harassment on there. That really bothers me.”

The family has spoken with representatives of the American Civil Liberties Union about possible legal action in the case.

District officials said they disagreed, but wouldn’t talk about the incident because of student confidentiality.




Nudie Nixed at UMich-Flint

Posted by Amanda Toering
October 19, 2005 @ 11:33 am
Filed under: Obscene!

School officials at the University of Michigan’s Flint campus have orderd the disappearance of a charcoal drawing that has been hanging in the university’s Lesbian/Gay Center for the past two years. (The subject’s nekkid.)

From the Flint Journal:

The drawing of an angel with male and female sex organs, entitled “Hermaphrodite,” had been a fixture in the third-floor Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Centre for two years. UM authorities in Ann Arbor ordered it down after a complaint last month by a UM-Flint staff member.

Now some students who use the center are staging a silent protest of what they consider censorship. They’ve drawn chalk protest signs such as “UM Censored Us” on the bricks in front of the University Center and refused to take down the drawing in the LGBT Centre, instead covering it with paper and tape.

“We’re willing to do whatever we need to do to fight for it,” said Greg Storms, 22, of Flint, a Spanish major.

The center has filed a petition to appeal to UM’s general legal counsel.

UM policy says nudity is permissible in classical art on campus or on display in an art gallery. The LGBT Centre is considered a university department.

But some students argue the drawing is art.

Ann Arbor campus spokeswoman Julie Peterson said the university has a long history of protecting and fostering freedom of expression, but this issue falls under federal guidelines for the workplace.

“The rules for the workplace are somewhat different than the rules for say an art exhibit or gallery showing,” Peterson said. “You have to make the workplace comfortable for all employees. Our attorneys reviewed it and determined it was not an appropriate display in order to create a comfortable workplace for all employees.”

[…]

Tom Coy, president of Students for Defending Christian Principles on campus, said he didn’t notice the drawing when he visited the office, but he considers it hypocritical of the LGBT center to claim censorship.

“This is the same organization that tried to censor us back in November,” Coy said, referring to protests about his club’s workshop on curing homosexuality.

“It definitely is censorship,” Coy said of the university’s actions. “I think the university has a right to censor it if they think it’s sexually inappropriate or pornography. I’m going to let them decide.”




Florida Man Jailed for Controversial Website

Posted by Eric Jaffa
October 8, 2005 @ 10:15 am
Filed under: Obscene!, Free Speech, Government

Chris Wilson, who gives soldiers in Iraq access to pornography in exchange for photos of Iraqi corpses, has been jailed for obscenity by the Polk County sheriff:

Sheriff’s officials insist the charges are unrelated to the Iraq pictures, but Wilson’s lawyer, Lawrence Walters, disagreed.

“Of all the hundreds of thousands of webmasters in the country, and even in central Florida, why would Chris Wilson be arrested a week after he hits national spotlight news on the Iraqi war photos?” said Walters, a First Amendment specialist. “I think any reasonable person would be suspicious of that.

Wilson remained in jail Saturday afternoon after the judge in his initial appearance denied his request to lower the $151,000 bail.

He previously told reporters he started giving soldiers free access after some reported problems paying the $10 membership fee. To make sure he wasn’t scammed, Wilson said, he asked each to send a photograph proving they were serving. He allowed those pictures posted on the site just like the others, calling it “a real look at what’s going on over there.”

The Web site remained live Saturday because its servers are in Amsterdam, and Walters said Wilson won’t be forced to take it down.

“That would be a First Amendment violation and a violation of his civil rights - and frankly the rights of everyone across the world who’s looking at those pictures,” he said.

Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said Saturday the images were among the most vile he’d ever seen but declined to be more specific.

“No normal person could even imagine what’s depicted in those videos and in those photographs,” he said.

Walters said the site may be considered obscene in Polk County, but not globally.

“I have no idea what they’re talking about, unless they’re referring to the Iraqi war photos, which is in my opinion is political news,” he said. “The rest of it is merely sexually oriented entertainment, which has become virtually mainstream in current society. There’s nothing different or more extreme about this particular Web site.”




Joan Baez Says Dirty Word on TV!

Posted by Amanda Toering
September 28, 2005 @ 3:36 pm
Filed under: Obscene!

Stop the presses!

During a broadcast of the American Masters episode regaling Bob Dylan, folk singer Joan Baez dropped an F-Bob.

Oops, make that an F-Bomb.

PBS says that it sent edited and unedited versions of the broadcast to its affiliates, and it appears that only New York’s WNET aired the f***.

Story in the SF Chronicle.




Dutch Officials Don’t Want to Know Nuthin’ ‘Bout Birthing No Babies

Posted by Amanda Toering
September 12, 2005 @ 10:17 am
Filed under: Obscene!

After dithering and investigating, Dutch officials have nixed Big Brother producers’ plans to air footage of a contestant giving birth.

They’ve also refused to grant a work permit to the newborn, whose dreams of stardom will no doubt be dashed by a stingy two-hour airtime limit each day.

From The Times Online:

With contestants having sex live on television no longer drawing audiences and outrage, the Big Brother producers went a step further by inviting a heavily pregnant woman, known only as Tanja, on to the show.

That a baby might be born and spend its first weeks under 24-hour TV surveillance caused a national furore, generating useful publicity for the Talpa TV channel, which was launched a month ago. The ruling Christian Democrats have condemned the idea of a birth on the live show, and the producers have been accused of planning to exploit a newborn baby.

As well as banning the channel from showing the birth, the Government insisted that the baby could be filmed only once a day for eight days, and must be kept the rest of the time in a room in the Big Brother house without cameras. The mother must have access to the room at all times, as will another carer for the baby, presumed to be its grandmother.

The Netherlands has strict child-protection laws, which cover appearances on film and television, which count as child labour.

A spokesman for Talpa played down the ruling, saying that “it’s the mother that’s important for us, not the baby. The pregnant woman is allowed to be on the show, and we’re allowed to film the baby if necessary. It’s not a show about birth, but about people in a social process.”

He also said that Tanja could be voted off the show before the birth, so the ruling could be redundant.




Anarchy Hurt Feelings in the UK

Posted by Amanda Toering
September 1, 2005 @ 11:27 am
Filed under: Obscene!

Yesterday we told you about Britain’s Advertising Standards Authority decision to pull a banking commercial because it offended allergy sufferers.

Today’s offended segment of the British populace: Husbands.

From the BBC:

The BBC has issued an apology over the programme Bring Your Husband to Heel after receiving complaints it was sexist towards men.

The BBC Two show featured dog trainer Annie Clayton using her techniques to teach women how to modify their husbands’ behaviour.

The corporation said the show “plays on the long-standing stereotype of wives nagging husbands about their failings”.

But it accepted that some viewers found the programme “inappropriate”.

Viewers complained to the BBC by telephone and on the Points of View website, with one viewer calling it “insulting to men and insulting the intelligence of women”.

Another called the programme “sexist, degrading, insulting drivel”.

The Beeb goes on to describe the program as one that taught women how to deal with the usual husband problems — computer addiction, lackadaisical chore-mongering, etc. The Beeb defends the concept of the show, saying it was a “unique method of instruction” for dealing with problems that many people face.




Pregnant Women Inappropriate for TV

Posted by Amanda Toering
August 31, 2005 @ 11:22 am
Filed under: Obscene!

The Dutch version of the reality series Big Brother is being investigated for including a pregnant housemate. The knocked-up woman was set to give birth sometime during the show’s run, provided that she didn’t get voted out first.

Dutch censorship rules strictly limit how kids can be shown on TV. Officials had apparently considered granting a pre-humous (is that a word?) work permit to the fetus for use on its arrival. Political shenanigans by the ruling Dutch Christian Democrats, however, have led to the instigation of the investigation.

What exactly is there to investigate, anyway?

A spokeswoman for the social affairs and labor ministry confirmed a report in De Telegraaf daily on Saturday that inspectors were examining a request by Big Brother producers for the newborn baby to be allowed to appear on the program.

The Netherlands has strict rules governing young children acting on television, in films or on the stage.

The ruling Christian Democrats have condemned the idea of a birth on the live show, but the 27-year-old pregnant contestant identified only as Tanja defended the idea.

“I think that my child will be proud of it later,” she told De Telegraaf.




Aristo What?

Posted by Amanda Toering
August 17, 2005 @ 9:46 am
Filed under: Obscene!

Parents:

Disney’s Aristocats has not been rereleased.

Repeat: The Aristocats has not been rereleased.

So please, don’t take your kids to see the 4:55 showing of The Aristocrats.

From the Denver Post (reprinted in the Arizona Central):

One of the most obscenity-laden movies ever made arrived in theaters Friday, reminding a jaded populace that there are still things you just can’t say out loud.

AristocatThe controversial, unrated documentary “The Aristocrats,” in which a series of stand-up comics tell and retell one very, very dirty joke, is proof that mere words can still shock.

The AMC theater chain has declined to show it, and some family and cultural watchdogs are denouncing it sight unseen.

“The Aristocrats” contains no nudity, sex or violence, just unimaginably aggressive assemblages of filthy words. It poses, however tacitly, a question: Can words, even those couched as entertainment, cross a line where people should toss up their hands and announce, “Enough”?

Combined with the obscenities in family-marketed movies such as “The Bad News Bears” and “The Dukes of Hazzard,” “The Aristocrats” has pop-culture observers urging moviegoers to know what they’re getting into.

[…]

Penn Jillette, half of the magic team Penn & Teller and co-creator of “The Aristocrats,” Aristocratdelights in shocking audiences. A cable show in which he investigated common assumptions was titled “Bulls–!” Contrarian as always, Jillette claims his movie celebrates basic moral values.

“What could be more American than a dirty joke, which combines humor and free speech?” he asked by phone from Las Vegas. “Maybe if you’ve had an incident in your past, you shouldn’t come see this movie.

After my parents died, I watched an episode of ‘Columbo’ that had a funeral in it, and I broke down. That’s not Peter Falk’s fault. I shouldn’t have been watching ‘Columbo’ at that point in my life. Don’t condemn ice cream just because it makes some people fat.”

Jillette said he knows “The Aristocrats” has prompted walkouts. “Shock is a pretty nutty word,” he said. “If anyone is truly shocked, they shouldn’t have been at this movie.”




Poetic Wardrobe Malfunction Bares “Breast,” Gets Garrison Keillor Canned

Posted by Amanda Toering
August 17, 2005 @ 9:29 am
Filed under: Obscene!

Of all the…

A Kentucky NPR station cancelled Garrison Keillor’s “A Writer’s Almanac” amid concerns of its “offensive” content. Keillor’s Writer’s Almanac is a five-minute program during which the popular baritone discusses great works of literature and poetry.

From the AP:

Recent poems had included words such as “breast” and the phrase “get high.” Another included suggestive sexual content, according to WUKY General Manager Tom Goddell.

He said there were no listener complaints, but station officials had worried about recent moves by the Federal Communications Commission to crack down on language it considered obscene.

“There’s been something like $18 million in fines in the last year,” Goddell told The Associated Press. “That’s enough to get our attention.”

After listeners complained about the cancellation, WUKY reversed its decision. “I think our community has spoken and I think this isn’t an issue for them,” Goddell said.

Keillor said Monday he was mystified by the initial decision to pull the show, noting the word “breast” has been used literally and figuratively by poets since Shakespeare.

“We’ve had a lot of response to ‘The Writer’s Almanac,’ most of it favorable,” Keillor said. “I don’t think it’s ever been taken off or been censored before.”

Keillor added, with a laugh: “It’s an honor to be taken off the air. I had to wait until I was 63. You are nobody in radio until you’ve been fired at least once, and I’ve never been fired. At least it’s vindication.”

For the record, here’s the offending “breast” poem.

Curse of the Cat Woman
by Edward Field

It sometimes happens
that the woman you meet and fall in love with
is of that strange Transylvanian people
with an affinity for cats.

You take her to a restuarant, say, or a show,
on an ordinary date, being attracted
by the glitter in her slitty eyes and her catlike walk,
and afterwards of course you take her in your arms
and she turns into a black panther
and bites you to death.

Or perhaps you are saved in the nick of time
and she is tormented by the knowledge of her tendency:
That she daren’t hug a man
unless she wants to risk clawing him up.

This puts you both in a difficult position—
panting lovers who are prevented from touching
not by bars but by circumstance:
You have terrible fights and say cruel things
for having the hots does not give you a sweet temper.

One night you are walking down a dark street
And hear the pad-pad of a panther following you,
but when you turn around there are only shadows,
or perhaps one shadow too many.

You approach, calling, “Who’s there?”
and it leaps on you.
Luckily you have brought along your sword
and you stab it to death.

And before your eyes it turns into the woman you love,
her breast impaled on your sword,
her mouth dribbling blood saying she loved you
but couldn’t help her tendency.

So death released her from the curse at last,
and you knew from the angelic smile on her dead face
that in spite of a life the devil owned,
love had won, and heaven pardoned her.




Novak’s Bullshit: WWBBD?

Posted by Amanda Toering
August 5, 2005 @ 9:14 am
Filed under: Obscene!

Daily Show viewers and blog readers are no doubt familiar with “journalist” Bob Novak’s appearance on CNN yesterday. During a typical debate with Democratic adviser James Carville (typical, that is, because Carville interrupted and opined with abandon), Teflon Bob finally reached his limit.

When Carville remarked that Novak felt the need to prove his manhood — er, backbone —to the Right Wing, a grumpy Novak said “I think that’s bullshit.” After reflecting for a moment, Novak stood up and poutily left the stage. (A copy of the video and a collection of links can be found at crooksandliars.com.)

Carville and host Ed Henry did an excellent job of pretending nothing was out of the ordinary, and continued the debate. (CNN announced yesterday evening that they had given Novak a time-out. And also, that he had been informed that he would be questioned about his role in the Valerie Plame/CIA leak. One wonders, then, if the tantrum was a cleverly constructed bit of theatrical distraction.)

There’s no shortage of amateur and professional analysis of Teflon Bob’s behavior on the web and in the media this morning. We won’t bore you with additional punditry — it’s probably all been said anyway.

We will pose this question: WWBBD?

What will Brent Bozell do?

Brent Bozell and his Parents Television Council have historically had no qualms about mustering over the broadcast of a single naughty word. Cable news shows — exempt from FCC indecency enforcement — are not exempt from the PTC’s ire.

So, what will Bozell do?

The smart money is on zero, zilch, nada, niente.

Remember when Laura Bush told a joke about her husband milking a horse — a male horse (wink wink) — at the White House press dinner in April?

Profane? No. Bawdy? Yes. And bawdy’s no big deal, except that if it had been Hillary Clinton’s joke, Bozell’s analysis would have been quite different from his take on Laura Bush:

Mrs. Bush’s speech, which seemed designed to loosen up the stuffy evangelical Christian image as the Washington press corps worries about a new American ayatollah under every bed, brought to mind the last feeble attempt to loosen up the Bush family image: the Bush daughters’ clunky introduction of their father at the Republican convention in New York last summer.

The lesson here is that Bozell is an unrepentant partisan. Yet the PTC has struggled to sell itself as a nonpartisan organization. Take a glance at their “About Us” page. Which word jumps out?

So will Brent Bozell and the PTC call Bob Novak on his “bullshit”? Or will the circle the wagons, like the good conservative activists that they are?

Stay tuned.




Chesapeake Library Plays “Hide the Innocuous Painting of the Partially Clad Woman”

Posted by Amanda Toering
July 29, 2005 @ 12:25 pm
Filed under: Obscene!, Free Speech Hero

Responding to complaints from two anonymous patrons, library officials in Chesapeake, VA, have relegated a portrait by a local painter to the nether regions of the Dewey Decimal system.

Karen Kinser’s 16″ x 18″ portrait of a woman with a bit of exposed skin (but no nipples or genitalia) caught the attention of 2 of the library’s 12,000 visitors, so library director Margaret Stillman moved the painting to a location where it was less visible.

Kinser is understandably upset.

“Why is one art-ignorant person allowed, and even encouraged, by the public library management to dictate what should or should not be shown in our city’s public library?” Kinser asked recently.

Kinser called the relocation censorship. A library official said she made a practical decision for a public facility funded by taxpayers’ dollars.

[…]

“We have a very keen sense of intellectual freedom tenets that are critical to a free library system, but we always apply common sense,” she said. “In this case, we had a complaint about nudity.”

In other news, the definition of “nudity” seems to have changed when I wasn’t looking.

More in the Virginian-Pilot.

Update

Read Karen Kinser’s letter to the Virginian-Pilot. (The Pilot wouldn’t print it. They should have.)




“Grand Theft Auto” Controversy Trickles Down

Posted by Amanda Toering
July 25, 2005 @ 1:42 pm
Filed under: Obscene!

The popular video game “Grand Theft Auto” just can’t seem to catch a break.

The game has long been opposed by parents groups because if its violent content. To make things worse, it was recently revealed that some joker buried explicit sex scenes in the game — accessible only to those in-the-know.

(more…)




Broward County Community Fights Back, Says “We Are Family”

Posted by Amanda Toering
July 19, 2005 @ 11:56 am
Filed under: Obscene!

Community groups in Broward County, FL, are fighting back after school officials banned the pro-tolerance and pro-diversity video “We Are Family.”

Late last week, representatives from 50 civil rights groups and community organizations challenged the district’s decision.

When Andrew Lewis first heard about the We Are Family video, he too was horrified.

“It sounded like someone had made a video of Muppets performing sex acts,” he said. “I was prepared to be outraged.”

Then Lewis saw the video, which shows a wide cast of cartoon characters, including Big Bird, Barney and SpongeBob SquarePants, with a few human celebrities thrown in, dancing and singing to the popular Sister Sledge song.

It was, he said, so innocent, so filled with good will that it made the motivations of those objecting to it all too clear.

As head of the Broward County Black Caucus, Lewis was one of about 50 civil rights and community leaders gathered at Sunrise Cathedral Friday afternoon. They were there to plan a strategy to put the video and accompanying lesson plans into Broward County elementary schools.

[…]

An e-mail Thursday urged recipients to take action because: “As you likely already know, Members of the Broward County Christian Coalition have convinced the Broward County School District to reject a video aimed at teaching tolerance in our schools.”

“That is so untrue,” protested Bobby Popler, head of the school system’s diversity and cultural outreach department.

The school board has yet to reach a final decision on the curriculum, she said.

The video has, however, been turned down by the district’s diversity committee, made of appointed community members, and then by the superintendent’s screening committee.

That, Popler said, was only because the first committee thought the curriculum “had not gone through proper channels” and the second committee found the video “not aligned with Sunshine State standards.”

That’s not what Lewis and other attendees heard, though, at the first meeting, which also was attended by several dozen Christian Coalition activists and where one committee member said the video promoted acceptance of “Adam and Steve, instead of Adam and Eve.”

More in the Palm Beach Post.




Wal-Mart Repackages Willie Nelson; Pot Leaf Becomes Palm Tree

Posted by Amanda Toering
July 13, 2005 @ 10:18 am
Filed under: Obscene!

Apparently confusing Willie Nelson for Jimmy Buffett (and come on, who hasn’t made that mistake before?), Wal-Mart has altered the cover art on Nelson’s new album of reggae covers.

You heard me: Willie Nelson’s new album of reggae covers.Willie Nelson's Countryman, before and after

The original cover of Nelson’s “Countryman” featured a marijuana leaf on a background of rasta colors. The Wal-Martized version replaces the forbidden fruit with a palm tree.

Nelson’s publisher, the Universal Music Group, made the change in deference to Wal-Mart’s penchant for censoring books and CDs and refusing to sell music that doesn’t fit the company’s image of minimum-wage, sexually harrassing, underinsured family values.

Willie, famous for admitting that unlike some, he does inhale, told the AP, “They’re covering all the bases.”

Other artists censored by Wal-Mart include Sheryl Crow, Prodigy, John Mellencamp, Nirvana, and Beck.




FL School Nixes ‘We Are Family’ Video; Says Tolerance Message “Messes with Kids’ Minds”

Posted by Amanda Toering
July 12, 2005 @ 10:07 am
Filed under: Obscene!

Broward County schools won’t be showing the ‘We Are Family’ video to kids. (You remember the video, right? It’s the musical tribute to tolerance that led Jerry Falwell to label SpongeBob SquarePants a pervert? Coming back to you?)

Anyhow, the district’s “diversity” committee has decided that the video is inappropriate because it “could confuse children about the difference between family members and strangers and open the door to discussion about sexual orientation.”

From the Miami Herald:

“Even in the liberal group, they understand that these people are trying to mess with our kids’ minds and introduce all kinds of activities in the name of tolerance,'’ said Steve Kane, a radio talk show host and a member of the diversity committee, which voted 10-7 against the video in May.

Committee members are appointed by the School Board.Tolerance messes with kids' minds

More than 61,000 schools throughout the country received a copy of the DVD and accompanying training material courtesy of the Anti-Defamation League and the We Are Family Foundation.

The ADL, which has long provided Broward and other districts with educational material, said it knew of only a handful of districts that voted not to use the video.

In Broward, however, the videos will be shelved, having received a single showing at Wilton Manors Elementary.

‘’I'm shocked. I’m chagrined. I’m outraged. I am perplexed. I’m amazed,'’ said Dennis G. Kainen, Florida regional board chair for the ADL. “I can’t understand. To me, being upset at SpongeBob is like being upset at Ma and apple pie.'’

Officials with the Broward County Christian Coalition, who viewed the video after hearing from a diversity committee member, said the underlying message of the DVD and accompanying teaching material promoted a homosexual agenda.

‘’We didn’t think it was appropriate for such young children,'’ said Barbara Collier, chairwoman of the coalition, which sent an ‘’e-mail alert'’ to members about the matter. “They wouldn’t be able to understand what it was about.'’

The controversy stems not from any explicit mention of homosexuality in the video — there isn’t any — but from its theme that people are all part of one big family, a message that, critics contend, could be construed to include pedophiles and other criminals. They also fear that the video could blunt other important messages for kids of that age, like the importance of being wary of strangers.

Previous reviews of the video by viewers in its target audience (i.e., 6-year-olds) show that they understand the message just fine.

Students at one South Florida school “giggled, clapped and wiggled as they watched the montage of characters flash across the screen.” Devon Peoples, a Ft. Lauderdale six-year-old, provided this plot synopsis: “Just because we’re all different, we are still a part of a family,” he said. “Everyone is different, like Barney and stuff.”

Story in the Miami Herald.




Video Game Banned, Goes Straight to DVD

Posted by Amanda Toering
July 11, 2005 @ 10:41 am
Filed under: Obscene!

Gotta give these guys credit for their marketing prowess.

Last year, a video game called “Guy Games” angered parents and conservative activists with a “trivia” game that offered (ahem) trivia buffs the prospect of seeing girls go wild in a Spring Break setting.

According to a press release, the game’s marketing website featured

[V]ideos of topless college-age girls engaging in various athletic activities, such as jumping rope and bouncing on giant rubber balls, which is a very important part of the game. There is also an extras section featuring a “babe hunt,” contests, and downloads that are all coming soon.

But, alas, the Guy Games were not to be. Though the company behind the game, Top Heavy Studios, ate up the protest-garnered attention, they weren’t prepared for the resulting lawsuit. One of the wild girl stars of the game, it turns out, wasn’t too happy about being included. (She was only 17-years-old, and topless, and presumably didn’t figure on becoming a video game legend.)

Anyhow, the underaged girl’s lawsuit resulted in a permanent ban on the sale of the video game.

So Top Heavy has made it into a DVD instead.

Sleazy, but clever.

(It must be pointed out, though, that the company that successfully turned Spring Break into a joystick-activated interactive experience can’t seem to get its own website to work.)

More at GameSpot.




Big Brother Down Under

Posted by Amanda Toering
July 7, 2005 @ 10:26 am
Filed under: Obscene!

The Australian version of reality show Big Brother is still ruffling feathers.

Big Brother Uncut has featured hot tub scenes, full frontal nudity, and the “vulgar” antics of stupid people. The show has so offended Member of Parliament Trish Draper that Draper has called for a review of all broadcast (i.e., non-subscription) entertainment.

From the Daily Telegraph News:

Draper has not only called for the Australian Communications and Media Authority to be allowed to pull shows off air as soon as they are investigated, but that it review all shows.

“The language that’s used, the gratuitous violence and nudity is a nightly occurrence on our TV and then there’s what’s dished up on Big Brother, which is the sort of behaviour you and I couldn’t do in our workplaces or homes,” she said.

Draper has called on the Australian Communications Minister to relegate shows for mature audiences to 11:30 p.m. or later. (The Communications and Media Authority, the Aussie equivalent of the FCC’s enforcement bureau, is also investigating an earlier episode of BB.) Concerns have intensified of late because children are on a school holiday; the show has seen a jump in ratings since the school bell rang.

Parents and politicians aren’t the only ones speaking out, though. Perhaps in an attempt to un-fleet the fleeting fame of a reality show win, former Aussie Big Brother champ Reggie Bird is urging her fellow countryman to change the channel.

“There’s a lot of stuff that they shouldn’t be showing. If I was one of their parents watching that I would be so embarrassed,” Ms Bird said. “It’s changed heaps since I was on it. We’d tell stories but it’s nothing compared to what these people are doing.

“My housemates were polite, considerate people who made the show more about platonic relationships and how to get along, which I think is the real spirit of Big Brother. (The current series) has turned into the UK or the Brazilian version of Big Brother, which is just a nudie fest.”

For their part, creators of the show agree with the latter statement.

Peter Bazalgette of Big Brother’s Endemol production company, says the Australians don’t know how good they’ve got it.

If people thought the storm of protest generated Down Under was bad, Bazalgette suggested having a look overseas.

“This is the show that caused a constitutional crisis in Malawi,” said Bazalgette, referring to the nation where Big Brother was banned, along with a string of other African and Middle Eastern countries.




“Me Time” a No-Go

Posted by Amanda Toering
July 6, 2005 @ 9:52 am
Filed under: Obscene!

British watch maker Accurist has been censured by Britain’s Advertising Standards Authority because of an ad that left a little too much (or not enough, depending on whom you ask) to the imagination. (Reminiscint of Paris Hilton and her burger, no?)

A full-page Glamour magazine ad — for watches — featured a nude and very tan woman lolling in a straight-backed chair. All her naughty parts were cleverly concealed — except for one: Her hand.

From Brand Republic:

The watch ad featured a photograph of a naked woman reclining in a wooden chair with her hair barely concealing her right breast. Her left hand was draped over her stomach, with her fingers resting just above her crotch. Below the image, the ad’s copy read “Me time”. The complainant felt that the ad portrayed masturbation.

In a compromise, Accurist will continue to run the ad, but will airbrush the offending up-to-no-good hand. The ASA has applauded the move.

At least the potentially offensive ad made sense. The new “Me Time,” apparently, consists of sitting naked in a rather uncomfortable chair.

Meh.




Paris Better at Branding Than Burger-Hawking

Posted by Amanda Toering
June 30, 2005 @ 10:23 am
Filed under: Obscene!

So burger sales at Carl’s Jr. haven’t increased much since Paris Hilton starting washing cars for a living. The folks at CKE Restaurants, Carl’s parent company, aren’t complaining.

The sales uptick was slight compared to the attention and controversy surrounding the commercial. But according to the company’s chief executive officer, that may have been the point.

“We wanted the ad to boost sales, which we think it did, but we also wanted it to help with our brand-building,” said Andrew Puzder, CEO of CKE Restaurants Inc., the parent company of Carl’s Jr. and its East Coast sibling, Hardee’s. “For long-term, brand-building purposes it was phenomenal. It got our name all over the country — even places where we don’t have restaurants.”

And they have the Parents Television Council to thank.

All together now, “Thank you, Brent!”

From ABC News.




ABC Cans “Welcome to the Neighborhood”

Posted by Amanda Toering
June 30, 2005 @ 9:03 am
Filed under: Obscene!

After offending everyone it could possibly offend — before the show ever aired — ABC canceled its upcoming reality series “Welcome to the Neighborhood.”

The show was to pit seven “diverse” families against each other to win the popularity vote of three white suburban families. The family receiving the nod from the whities would have won a house in the white families’ neighborhood (a swanky community outside of Austin with a Wonder Bread reputation).

Various groups have been complaining about the show since its placement in ABC’s summer lineup was announced. The meatiest complaint came from housing rights activists, who claimed (rightly, really) that the premise of the show undermined federal fair housing laws that prohibit housing discrimination.

ABC did not directly address these complaints, but defended the idea behind the show.

The point, they said, was to show

the transformative process that takes place when people are forced to confront preconceived notions of what makes a good neighbor, and we believe the series delivers exactly that.

However, the fact that true change only happens over time made the episodic nature of this series challenging and given the sensitivity of the subject matter in early episodes we have decided not to air the series at this time.

Variety has this analysis:

Among many in the TV production community, Alphabet’s move immediately invited comparisons to CBS’ decision to shelve “The Reagans” after conservative groups denounced the controversial miniseries sight unseen.

It also demonstrated once again the challenges facing broadcasters in today’s politically charged environment, in which even an off-handed joke about a politician can put a show like “Law & Order”"Law & Order” on the defensive.

The “Welcome to the Neighborhood” page has been removed from ABC’s website.

Additional info in the New York Times.