December 1, 2005

Attack of the Abominable Snow Phallus

Posted by Amanda Toering
April 30, 2005 @ 4:43 pm
Filed under: Obscene!

Two Wyoming men have been charged with promoting obscenity for building a “snow phallus” in their front yard. Although the snow phallus was eventually destroyed — presumably by an offended passer-by — police charged the pair anyhow.

From NY Newsday.




Headline of the Day

Posted by Amanda Toering
April 29, 2005 @ 10:37 am
Filed under: Right Watch

From Agape Press: “Many Agree: Bible is Not Just a Good Book — It’s a Good Education.”

Much to the chagrin of groups like the American Civil Liberties Union and People for the American Way, Bible curriculum classes are being taught in more than a thousand public high schools across the United States….

Some school districts are frightened off by the specter of lawsuits; nevertheless, Bible curriculum classes are now being taught in some 1,100 high schools in 300 school districts in 35 states across the nation — and this is going on during school hours, for credit, with the Bible as the textbook. That is because those 300 school districts are currently offering a course called “The Bible as History and Literature,” a course curriculum from the National Council on Bible Curriculum in Public Schools (NCBCPS).

Think that’s not a violation of the separation of church and state? Check out the URL in the preceding paragraph. Go on. Hover. Or bet yet, click it.




Put the “Public” Back in PBS

Posted by Amanda Toering
April 29, 2005 @ 10:32 am
Filed under: Action, PBS

Free Press has joined up with several consumer advocacy groups to return public interest to PBS, “proposing a series of local hearings across the country where the public will talk directly to broadcasters and policymakers about the future of public broadcasting.”

Read their announcement, and their report on the state of public broadcasting at Free Press.




Washington Times Op-Ed: Parents Make the Best Legislators

Posted by Amanda Toering
April 29, 2005 @ 10:22 am
Filed under: Opinion

Bruce Fein, former general counsel to the FCC under Reagan, has penned an op-ed in the Washington Times regarding potential legislative acts against ‘indecency.’

His conclusion:

If parents are provided the means, the vast majority will exercise good judgment in shielding their children from premature and shocking exposure to sex or profanity. If private industry is forthcoming on that score, federal legislation will be unnecessary.

Read it all.

Shielding children from indecency, Washington Times.




Toronto Cable Provider Decides Against Free Porn Weekend

Posted by Amanda Toering
April 29, 2005 @ 10:11 am
Filed under: Obscene!

A Toronto cable company had planned to offer free porn previews to its subscribers this weekend, which it has done in the past without incident. After a Toronto Globe and Mail article detailing the plan, however, the cable company has changed its mind.

Rogers Cable developed the 54-hour promo in an effort to boost subscriptions to its three hard-core pay channels. Subscribers were to have free access to the pay channels over the weekend, although that access would have been restricted by channel lock feature and would have required a PIN.

Rogers’ cable boxes are programmed with a default PIN (0000) and the company began to worry that many subscribers had not entered their own — thus potentially allowing children to access the hardcore fare.

In a literal and figurative butt-covering, the company canceled free porn weekend.

Rogers Cable to Offer Free Porn (Toronto Globe and Mail, April 28)
Rogers cancels free porn-channels preview (Toronto Globe and Mail, April 29)




The Gays Are Coming! Run!

Posted by Amanda Toering
April 29, 2005 @ 9:59 am
Filed under: Obscene!

Three cable networks aimed at gay audiences are preparing to make their debut.

The Southern Voice has the details.




California Columnist: I Love TV, and I’m Proud

Posted by Amanda Toering
April 29, 2005 @ 9:54 am
Filed under: General

Modesto Bee TV columnist Marijke Rowland proudly admits her fondness for TV.

I’ve watched TV all my life. I watched it as a child. I watched it in high school. I watched tons of it in college. I watch it now, as a working professional.

I plan to keep watching it until they implant a receptor chip in my head, and then I’ll just dial my brain over to catch new episodes of “CSI: Mars.”

I love television. There, I said it. Heck, I own four of them.

It makes me happy, most of the time. I can’t say I don’t grumble at it. And I can’t say that my mind doesn’t go numb at times when, say, watching Verne “Mini Me” Troyer find new and unusual places to pee on the “Surreal Life.”

But just because I watch and enjoy television doesn’t make me less in touch with my loved ones. It doesn’t make me less interested in the world. And it certainly doesn’t make me less intelligent. They are not mutually exclusive.

Television has become the favorite whipping boy of cultural watchdogs who say it leads to violence, obesity and overt sexuality.

But that argument leads us right back to the old chicken and the egg dilemma. Did TV make us how we are today, or did how we are make TV what it is today?

Turn off the what? Modesto Bee




Paris Hilton Burger Ad a No-Go

Posted by Amanda Toering
April 29, 2005 @ 9:49 am
Filed under: Obscene!

Poor Paris.

A commercial spot starring the famous-for-nothing starlet will probably never reach the airwaves. Why? Well, it’s too…. Too Paris?

The spot is meeting with some resistance from network executives. “It couldn’t be more pornographic,” said a source. “It’s about as racy as I’ve seen.”

From AdWeek.




Urgent Action: FCC Names New Enforcement Head (sticky)

Posted by Amanda Toering
April 29, 2005 @ 9:41 am
Filed under: Action, FCC

More inside….




Southern Poverty Law Center on Proposed ‘Bama Book Ban

Posted by Amanda Toering
April 29, 2005 @ 9:36 am
Filed under: Book Bans

The folks at the Southern Povery Law Center — which isn’t just for poor Southerners anymore — have dissected a bill introduced into Alabama’s legislature that would ban “gay” books.

Practical matters aside, State Rep. Gerald Allen is certainly aware that his proposed statute violates a core tenet of the First Amendment — it’s commonplace knowledge that the government is prohibited from stifling speech because of its message, idea or subject matter. [See R.A.V. v. City of St. Paul, 505 u.s. 377, 386 (1992)]

And Allen’s bill represents the most egregious form of content-based regulation because it is viewpoint-discriminatory. [See Rosenberger v. Rector and Visitors of Univ. of Va., 515 u.s. 819, 829 (1995) (explaining that “[v]iewpoint discrimination is … an egregious form of content discrimination”).]

The bill would prohibit only those materials that promote homosexuality, leaving books that cast homosexuality in a negative light unscathed and on Alabama bookshelves.

From the Southern Povery Law Center.




Bozell: “That Kettle Is Black!”

Posted by Amanda Toering
April 29, 2005 @ 9:24 am
Filed under: PTC

In his Town Hall column, Brent Bozell makes a delightful pot-calling-the-kettle-black-argument: Cable lobbyists are “creepy.”

In its attempts to control the damage to cable TV’s reputation — for being the television equivalent of a man selling skin magazines and gory comic books out of a trench coat on a street corner — the NCTA proposed what it would like the public, and legislators, to think is a bold plan of action. It will “spend” the equivalent of $250 million of its advertising time airing public-service announcements explaining how parents can use the V-chip to screen out offensive programming. It will also encourage cable channels to increase the size of TV ratings on screen and ask that they put the ratings up after every commercial.

Bozell goes on to make his standard argument against the V-Chip:

As has been documented numerous times, TV producers regularly refuse to attach the very program descriptors (”L” for foul language, “V” for violence and so on) to programs that would require them. So much for the letter and the spirit of this voluntary ratings system. So much for the usefulness of the V-chip.

Well, not exactly. NBC (the network — not the “producers”) was the lone hold-out regarding the content descriptors, but they acceded yesterday in an announcement that coincided with the unveiling of the cable industry’s plan.

And then Bozell ends with an evergreen: The only two solutions are a la carte programming (which cable execs claim would break the bank) , or censorship. As always, he forgot the option of ‘off.’

There’s only one sincere choice for the industry and its lobbyists to take: Fix it. Clean it up. Give consumers a real choice to avoid the cultural pollution in our homes. At the very least, don’t insult us by coming before the press and claiming you give a hoot about what toxic television is doing to the culture, in our homes and in our schools and neighborhoods.

Cable’s Creepy Lobbyists, at Town Hall.




New Bill Would Require “Kid Friendly” Cable Package

Posted by Amanda Toering
April 28, 2005 @ 10:07 am
Filed under: Cable/Satellite

Oregon Senatory Ron Wyden has drafted a bill that would require cable companies to offer a “kid-friendly” cable package.

“I have come to feel very strongly that the challenge is to give parents more choices,” Wyden (D) said in an interview

In the Washington Post.




Vagina-Lovers Plan Rally

Posted by Amanda Toering
April 28, 2005 @ 10:04 am
Filed under: Free Speech

Students in Minnesota, where several high schoolers were recently disciplined for their Vagina Monologue accoutrements, will hold a rally in support of free speech and provocative button-wearing.

School officials say the rally will be on an upcoming morning. Superintendent Paul Durand says students will be allowed to wear buttons and shirts that support the girls.

He says students can rally around the school’s flagpole before classes, but they’ll be asked to remove the buttons and turn the shirts inside out before entering the high school. Students who refused to do so will be asked to leave for that day.

School officials say the school is trying to balance students’ right to free speech with the employees’ right to a non-hostile work environment.

From Minneapolis’ WCCO CBS affiliate.




University of Texas Officials Use the “Tent Defense” to Shut Students Up

Posted by Amanda Toering
April 28, 2005 @ 9:59 am
Filed under: Free Speech

Student protestors recently took to the University of Texas (Austin) campus to protest tuition hikes. Protestors set up tents on the university mall (a vast pedestrian mall at the foot of the infamous UT tower).

University officials dug through the regulation books and came up with an ingenious ploy to stifle the student protest: The Tent Defense.

Yes, it turns out that the habitation of tents is forbidden on campus. One can pitch a tent as a display or as an artistic statement, but one cannot enter said tent.

From the Austin Chronicle.




In Sadaam-Free Iraq, On-Screen Sex Popular

Posted by Amanda Toering
April 28, 2005 @ 9:50 am
Filed under: CensorWorld

Now that Sadaam’s gone, sexy films are enjoying increasing popularity in Iraq’s cinemas. (And, in turn, Iraqis are enjoying the increasing popularity of sexy films.)

Noori Jameel al-Madfa’i, general manager of the al-Rasheed cinema, said his most popular films are those with sex scenes. He shows these titles three to four days a week, with 150-200 people turning up for each viewing. He said his customers are men between the ages of 17 and 45.

“We can show any film in the hall, as there is no censorship of films from any government parties,” he said.

Ahmed Abdul-Hussein, a Baghdad resident, is in Sulaimaniyah looking for work in construction. In his free time, he sometimes goes to see movies featuring sex scenes.

“I’m here for 15 days, away from my wife,” said Abdul-Hussein, 40, who has four children. “I come to the cinema to see these films to satisfy a few of my sexual desires.”

In the Kurdish Media News.




AZ Columnist Intends to “Go Down Swinging”

Posted by Amanda Toering
April 28, 2005 @ 9:44 am
Filed under: Obscene!

A columnist at a suburban Phoenix newspaper says he’ll “go down swinging” to protect kids from “tide of filth that so permeates our society.”

His ire was sparked by a letter from a psychologist at a junior high school. It seems a note was being passed from student to student, and the note contained some naughty song lyrics. The edited version of the song is #16 on the local hip hop chart, but students were curious. Someone transcribed the unexpurgated lyrics (which are indeed naughty).

And columnist Slim Smith has issued a call to arms:

If radio stations are really serious about cleaning up the cesspool that is radio, I would challenge them to follow this simple rule: Don’t air edited versions of songs. Period.

Don’t hold your breath waiting for that to happen, folks.

If we are to stem the tide of filth that so permeates our society, we’ll have to fight it on our own. If stations won’t listen, perhaps those who advertise on those stations will.

From the East Valley Tribune.




ACLU Exploring Suit on Indecency Crackdown

Posted by Amanda Toering
April 28, 2005 @ 9:34 am
Filed under: General

It’s buried in a CNN story about the money aspect of the indecency crackdown, but it’s in there.

An ACLU lawyer says it’s “very likely” that the group will challenge the indecency wars in court.

The Brewing Battle Over Indecency, CNN.




Bush Signs Bowdlerization Bill

Posted by Amanda Toering
April 28, 2005 @ 9:27 am
Filed under: Sanitize!

President Bush has signed into law a bill that ensures legal protection for DVD content-filtering technology. Hollywood is crying “copyright violation!” It is widely believed that the new law will end up in the courts.

From the CBC.




NBC Agrees to Content Ratings

Posted by Amanda Toering
April 28, 2005 @ 9:19 am
Filed under: General

The last network hold-out against TV content ratings, NBC, has relented.

NBC had taken issue with the content description ratings– ‘V’ for violence, ‘L’ for language, etc. — because they believed the descriptors tromped on the First Amendment. NBC had been airing age-based ratings, however (TV-PG, TV-14, M, etc.).

NBC says it will immediately begin airing the content descriptors.

“Eight years ago, when content descriptors were first implemented, we questioned if they would cause more confusion than they would help. While we believe the descriptors still post certain challenges with respect to consistency with how various networks define them, we are willing to participate, given the broad consensus of the industry to use them. We will do our best to implement classification procedures that make them as accurate and consistent as possible so that they can become a useful resource of additional information about programs for our viewers.”

NBC had received a special tongue-lashing from Brent Bozell over the content descriptor issue.

From Broadcasting & Cable.




Look, Boss! Da Plan! Da Plan!

Posted by Amanda Toering
April 28, 2005 @ 9:05 am
Filed under: Cable/Satellite

As promised, the cable industry unveiled its Take Control program yesterday, aiming to educate parents on TV controls they may not know how to use.

Broadcasting & Cable reports:

The general thrust of the campaign, unveiled at a National Cable & Telecommunications Association press conference in Washington, is that the combination of digital boxes, analog boxes, V-chip-equipped sets, and free blocking technology for anyone who asks for it, provides that control today if subscribers can be better educated about the power they already have.

Starting June 1, the on-screen TV rating will be “dramatically” larger, and will be inserted after every commercial break.

The campaign will also include the following:

  • A $250 million parental education PSA campaign
  • Partnerships with Best Buy and Circuit City to supply parental control info at the time of TV purchase
  • Local events co-sponsored by the PTA, giving parents additional access to parental-control information

Bozell is unimpressed. The PTC prez characterized the plan as an attempt “to spin the public with a multi-million-dollar campaign to promote channel blocking and V-chip technologies as an adequate remedy for families concerned about their children being exposed to violent, profane and sexually explicit programming.”

“This $250-million sham,” he continued, “is being foisted on American consumers by the cable industry with the sole purpose of shirking responsibility for its product.”

More from Bozell:

“It is not enough to talk about putting up warning signs,” Bozell stated. “Consumers should have the ability to opt out of cable programming they find offensive and not be forced to subsidize those networks.

“Better yet, why doesn’t Hollywood just stop flooding television with sewage?” he concluded.

The cable industry maintains that so-called a la carte programming is not a viable business model.




‘Bama Still Thinking on Gay Book Ban

Posted by Amanda Toering
April 27, 2005 @ 10:04 am
Filed under: Book Bans

An Alabama legislator is still trying to pass a bill that would ban “gay” books — in this case, any book written by a gay author or that features gay characters.

[Representative Gerald] Allen originally wanted to ban even some Shakespeare. After criticism, he narrowed his bill to exempt the classics, although he still can’t define what a classic is. Also exempted now Alabama’s public and college libraries.

[…]

In book after book, Allen reads what he calls the “homosexual agenda,” and he’s alarmed.

“It’s not healthy for America, it doesn’t fit what we stand for,” says Allen. “And they will do whatever it takes to reach their goal.”

He says he sees this as a line in the sand.

At CBS News.




Martin Appears Before Congress

Posted by Amanda Toering
April 27, 2005 @ 9:49 am
Filed under: FCC

During hearings on the FCC’s budgetary requests, lawmakers pushed FCC chair Kevin Martin on the indecency issue.

It’s got to be more than giving speeches,” said Rep. Frank Wolf, chairman of the House Subcommittee on Science, State, Commerce, Justice and Related Agencies, the panel that governs FCC appropriations.

Martin pointed out that he has long been on record supporting a an hour nightly prime time broadcast block for family-friendly viewing (the so-called family hour) and has called on cable operators to sell family-themed tiers of programming. He promised to provide more leadership on the issue now that he is FCC chairman.

From Broadcasting & Cable.




When Does Regulation Become Censorship?

Posted by Amanda Toering
April 27, 2005 @ 9:46 am
Filed under: General

No new news here, but at least they pose the question.

A ban on TV indecency is the latest rage — but will it turn into censorship? from the Associated Press (in the Detroit News)




Bay Windows Update

Posted by Chris Zammarelli
April 27, 2005 @ 9:43 am
Filed under: Book Bans

Dan Kennedy is reporting at his weblog that Bay Windows will be back in Stop & Shop and Shaw’s as early as this week. The two stores had stopped carrying the gay and lesbian newspaper because of its explicit personal ads.

Bay Windows is apparently dropping them.




Orlando Sentinel: Kids Are Buttheads, and It’s TV’s Fault

Posted by Amanda Toering
April 27, 2005 @ 9:40 am
Filed under: General

It’s official.

Television is to blame for all of the unpleasantries of adolescence — and all the unpleasantness of adolescents.

It must be true. It’s in the newspaper.

Though most TV watchdog groups fret about violence and sex on television, some parents say they’re increasingly concerned about TV’s attitude problem. From cartoons to sitcoms, the stars are now sassy children who deliver flip one-liners, put down authority figures and revel in a laugh track.

And their attitudes are contagious. Formerly polite kids are smart-alecky, eye-rolling and harrumphing, just like the kids on television. In Jean and Brian Martin’s Longwood home, that behavior came to a quick halt after Jean began paying close attention to her children’s TV diet. What she found were shows full of wiseacre kids and nonexistent (or worse, dumb) parents.

Not So Funny, Orlando Sentinel