SpeakSpeak News


Kevin Martin’s Father Dies

Filed under  by Amanda Toering — 04/11/2005 @ 6:33 pm

Broadcasting & Cable is reporting that the father of FCC chair Kevin Martin has passed away suddenly.


The ‘Indecency’ Connection

Filed under  by Amanda Toering — 04/11/2005 @ 12:51 pm

Tuesday’s episode of NPR’s “The Connection” will feature a debate on indecency. Going head-to-head will be our pal Jonathan Rintels from The Center for Creative Voices in the Media (also a member of SpeakSpeak’s Advisory Board) and an unnamed representative of the American Family Association.

Should be good fun. Give ‘em hell, Jon.

Check for local broadcast times, or listen online at 10 a.m. (Eastern).

Buster Does Maine

Filed under  by Amanda Toering — 04/11/2005 @ 11:11 am

Officials at Maine Public Broadcasting have finally decided to air the “Sugartime!” episode of “Postcards from Buster.”

The decision follows a public meeting of the affiliate’s community advisory board.

Opponents of the episode quoted from the Bible and said it would be wrong to present a sinful lifestyle to children.

Supporters countered by saying that censoring the program would label gays and lesbians as second-class people.

“From where I´m sitting, that says to me my right to exist, who I am and was born to be, and my family´s right to exist, is controversial,” said Donna Senkbeil of Durham, who is raising a child with her lesbian partner. “That’s scary to me.”

But the Rev. Douglas Taylor of The Jesus Party Inc., a church in Lewiston, characterized the episode as an insidious attempt to legitimize a new definition of family that is immoral and counter to his religion.

Another report tells of Taylor cuddling a stuffed bunny marked with the words “Don’t Pervert My Show.” “You put gay in the music and the movies and the TV,” Taylor said, “and we’re putting filth in the house and introducing the gay agenda.”

Here’s a little Buster brush-up.

Fox Says ‘No Thanks’ to ‘Married by America’ Fines

Filed under  by Amanda Toering — 04/11/2005 @ 10:21 am

As expected, Fox is preparing to say “thanks, but no thanks” to the FCC’s fine invitation.

The bureacrats at the FCC have offered Fox the chance to pay over $1 million – $7,000 per affiliate – to atone for its airing of “Married by America,” a show universally named as one of the low points in television history. With the help of the ACLU, Fox is considering declining that invitation.

This here’s the test case.

From Broadcasting & Cable, via the Media Channel.

Georgia Gov. Seeking to Make Free Speech “Permits” Harder to Obtain

Filed under
  • Free Speech
 by Amanda Toering — 04/11/2005 @ 10:03 am

Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue is trying to change a law that requires protesters to obtain a free speech permit for demonstrations held in state parks or historical sites.

The law currently requires the state Department of Natural Resources to process permit requests “without reasonable delay.” Perdue’s changes would allow a five-day delay for groups of 11 or more people.

Opponents feel that the proposed changes are an attempt to deny permits by using a ticking clock, rather than a rubber stamp.

In the Athens Banner-Herald.

First Amendment Expert: Regulation, Criminalization Unnecessary

Filed under
  • Free Speech
 by Amanda Toering — 04/11/2005 @ 9:56 am

Paul McMasters, ombudsman at the First Amendment Center, argues that increased regulation of TV indecency is uncalled for, and criminalization (a la Sensenbrenner) is just plain stupid.

Invariably, the argument advanced for further regulation of TV is 1) “indecency” has increased, and 2) parents are helpless in the face of this onslaught. No. 1 is arguable at best. No. 2 is demonstrably false.

Once tantamount to obscenity in the minds of regulators, “indecency” has been dramatically defined downward to embrace nearly everything anyone anywhere doesn’t like. Some would even include homosexuality, divorce, feminism, violence, “hate speech” and commercial pitches to children.

As for helpless parents, they certainly have a lot more options for “decent” fare on TV these days with family, religious, news and sports programming at an all-time high. And those who wish to protect themselves and their children from indecency have access to a wide range of tools….

Read McMasters’ excellent piece: Inside the First Amendment: Surrendering our choices to a sense of decency.

PTC Goes Local

Filed under  by Amanda Toering — 04/11/2005 @ 9:50 am

The PTC has begun a state-by-state campaign, beginning in Florida.

The News-Press (Ft. Myers) interviews the PTC’s first regional director, Matt Butler, who got involved with the PTC because his kid is a Jackass wannabe. Butler argues that managers of local affiliates should screen network programming before airing it to make sure it complies with local standards.

Q&A with Florida director of PTC, Florida News-Press.

Bozell Prohibits Slate’s Edelstein From Movie Reviews, Moral Pronouncements

Filed under  by Amanda Toering — 04/11/2005 @ 9:42 am

Bozell takes a swipe at popular film critic David Edelstein (reviewer for Slate.com, NPR’s “Fresh Air,” and CBS’ “Sunday Morning").

Edelstein liked the Robert Rodriguez film “Sin City” (which has grossed over $50 million so far). He really, really liked it.

In his review, Edelstein waxes about the beautiful gore presented in the film:

My reaction to Sin City is easily stated. I loved it. Or, to put it another way, I loved it, I loved it, I loved it. I loved every gorgeous sick disgusting ravishing overbaked blood-spurting artificial frame of it. A tad hypocritical? Yes. But sometimes you think, “Well, I’ll just go to hell.”

Bozell responded in his own column by using his God-given authority to make carte blanche statements on morality.

It’s depressing to think of Hollywood executives in a business meeting trying to calculate how to please people [with films like “Sin City"], when they should be hustling them off to therapy.

Adds Bozell, “Slate.com should never be allowed to lecture anyone ever again about morality of any kind.”

U of F Radio Show Silenced

Filed under
  • Free Speech
 by Amanda Toering — 04/11/2005 @ 9:28 am

In today’s news from the slippery slope, a radio show aired on the University of Florida’s station has been suspended over a popular segment called “Drunk Bitch Friday.” The series, which is two years old, involves getting a girl drunk – on-air – until she reaches “state of inebriation that is entertaining.”

The university has squashed the show (after two years) because of concerns for student alcohol abuse.

The campus newspaper believes the show’s cancellation is yet another example of the erosion of the First Amendment:

This is just another example of the growing censorship that is threatening the First Amendment rights of the media. The more accepting our society is toward questionable content in the media, it seems, the more often the FCC and a few angry parents are able to shut down speech that should be protected.

They also argue with the idea that the show is pro-alcohol:

It doesn’t even actually promote drinking. Anyone who listens to the incoherent ramblings of these “drunk bitches” and thinks the show glorifies drinking has a strange idea of what is glamorous.

And the producer of the show has his own (somewhat incoherent) opinion:

The problem is deciding what the greater good of the public is. I believe getting a few good laughs on your way to work or school is something that serves the greater good. People in better moods are more productive. The flip side is that what makes some people laugh gets others quite angry, and angry people usually aren’t as productive as possible. That’s what makes censorship such a controversial issue.

FL Censor Steps Down

Filed under  by Amanda Toering — 04/11/2005 @ 9:10 am

The Lake County (FL) official responsible for the banning and subsequent unbanning of an artistic piece of mammary expressionism has stepped down.

The now former county manager, Bill Neron, said he was uneasy with his own decision, but felt compelled to protect his constituents. “I don’t like being put in the position of the community arbiter of taste and art. But I made a decision that is not what people want to see.”

The Orlando Sentinel excoriates Neron for his censorious prudery with the following simple and infallible argument: “If somebody doesn’t want to see it, they don’t have to look.”

They follow up with what is possibly the best quid pro quo indecency comeback ever uttered: “If having ‘obvious’ breasts is deemed unsuitable for viewing, then a good portion of the overweight men in Lake County who shed their shirts in the summertime will have to cover up.”

Ramsey Campbell: Censor’s role should leave with Neron.

Surgeon/Cop Seeks Cure for ‘Obscenity Virus’

Filed under  by Amanda Toering — 04/11/2005 @ 8:56 am

Mr. Mumbai is at it again.

The Mumbai (India) police commissioner Sanjay Aparanti is ramping up his attempts to cleanse his city of obscenity, including racy ads and movie posters. “I am determined to stop any further spread of the obscenity virus in the city,” said Dr. Aparanti, a trained surgeon at the J.J. Hospital before he joined the police service.

From Cybernoon.com.

Is Annoying Someone ‘Free Speech’ – Or Harassment?

Filed under
  • Free Speech
 by Amanda Toering — 04/11/2005 @ 8:47 am

Kenneth Tennant, an army vet suffering from fibromyalgia, has been battling with the VA over disability payments. Frustrated and stonewalled, he resorted to a shock and awe campaign of letters and phone calls to VA officials (sometimes at their home addresses).

He’s now been arrested by a branch of the Department of Homeland Security for “annoying and harassing” the VA folks.

The case hinges on one question: When does free speech cross the line?

At IndyMedia.org.

LA Times to Martin: “Wha – ?”

Filed under  by Amanda Toering — 04/11/2005 @ 8:40 am

Here’s a belated nod to the LA Times, whose editors recently penned an editorial aimed at Kevin Martin.

What’s next? Some vote-hungry politician embracing the death penalty for offending programmers? It doesn’t help that the new chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, Kevin J. Martin, ingratiated his way into the job by playing to social conservatives. His job is not that of censor in chief.

Martin tried to sound a conciliatory note at a cable industry confab in San Francisco on Tuesday, mainly by stating the obvious point that he has no jurisdiction to crack down on cable smut. But given his track record, there was something ominous about his exhortations that cable executives clean up their act. There was an implicit “or else.”

Instead of addressing cable executives, Martin should be busy clarifying what constitutes indecency for broadcasters and end the confusion that is causing them to unnecessarily censor themselves to the detriment of viewers — as happened last year when some ABC affiliates refused to air the Steven Spielberg film “Saving Private Ryan” for fear that its profanity would trigger FCC fines.

And there’s more….

Corporate Boobs Good, Anatomical Boobs Bad

Filed under  by Amanda Toering — 04/11/2005 @ 8:36 am

According to some observers, the FCC is veritably racing toward absolute deregulation of media corporations. (Read: All Rupert Murdoch, all the time.) Where’s the criticism of that obscenity?

But breasts, boy, breasts ought to mean jail!

Read Ari Berman’s rant in The Nation.

Damned If They Do, Damned If They Don’t

Filed under  by Chris Zammarelli — 04/11/2005 @ 6:45 am

If broadcast networks shy away from programming that could be targets of FCC fines, their parent corporations could take a financial hit anyway. In this this New York Post article found at I Want Media, media analyst Gary Arlen said:

If there’s any sense that they will have to cut back on popular programming, Wall Street is going to start walking away. But if Congress doesn’t act, Wall Street will come back. I can foresee a real roller coaster on value.

Judy Blume Banned Again

Filed under  by Chris Zammarelli — 04/11/2005 @ 6:23 am

Superintendent Rick Schneider has banned Judy Blume’s Forever from the Pasadena, TX, Independent School District because of “sexually explicit” passages in the book that were “not appropriate for any students of the school district,” according to district spokesperson Kirk Lewis. After the parent of a middle school student filed a complaint, Forever was reviewed by two committees before arriving on Schneider’s desk. Although the initial recommendation was to remove Blume’s coming-of-age novel from just the intermediate school libraries, the school district decided it would be best to take it off all school library shelves.

(Found at LISNews.com… Happy National Library Week!)

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