December 1, 2005

“Be very careful about what you say…”

Posted by Eric Jaffa
June 30, 2005 @ 4:32 pm
Filed under: Free Speech?

Free speech and fear don’t go together well.

Rose Aguilar, a San Francisco-based journalist, is travelling to red states.

Here she reports on people she met in Highland Park, Texas:

Having expected the worst, I was surprised to find so many anti-war, pro-choice Republicans who aren’t happy with Bush’s policies — but who also admit they are afraid to speak out. The day after Gov. Rick Perry flamboyantly signed anti-abortion and anti-gay legislation at the Calvary Christian Academy in Fort Worth, I asked people in the affluent Highland Park area of Dallas how they felt about the event, and whether they were concerned about breaching the separation between church and state.

The majority of the people I approached said they hadn’t even heard about Perry’s grandstanding photo-op. The few who had agreed to answer a few questions — but also asked me not to use their names, for fear it would hurt their reputations and job prospects.

“You have to be very careful about what you say here. Depending on what circle you’re in, it could come back to haunt you. Even though we’re supposed to live in a free country and a free society, the government can still make life unpleasant for certain people
,” said a Republican woman in her sixties who voted for Bush (even though she thought Kerry did a “terrific” job during the debates).

From the Austin Chronicle via Pandagon.

Video of the Governor Rick Perry church event is at Crooks and Liars.




All in the Family

Posted by Amanda Toering
June 30, 2005 @ 10:31 am
Filed under: PTC

It’s a sad and tragic story, so we’ll reserve commentary. It’s also a fascinating one — so we can’t help but pass it along.

The Boston Globe has a long piece about the life and self-inflicted death of writer Tristan Egolf — Brent Bozell’s godson.

Egolf’s brief life story reads like a fairy tale. A punk rocker turned street busker in Paris, he struck up an acquaintance with the daughter of Patrick Modiano, a prominent French author and screenwriter ('’Lacombe Lucien”). Modiano helped publish Egolf’s first novel, ‘’Lord of the Barnyard,” in France. Subsequently published in Britain and the United States, ‘’Barnyard” received gushing reviews. Le Monde likened Egolf to Mark Twain, J.P. Donleavy, and Cormac McCarthy. The French daily and the Times of London both compared Egolf — presciently, it turned out — to John Kennedy Toole, the talented New Orleans novelist who killed himself at age 32.

Outside his writing, Egolf achieved some renown as a political agitator. In July 2004, Egolf and a group of friends — the ‘’Smoketown Six” — were arrested in Lancaster, Pa., for stripping down to thong underwear and piling on top of one another during a visit by President Bush, to protest the treatment of prisoners at the Abu Ghraib prison. Also last year, he organized an anti-Columbus Day rally and burned President Bush in effigy. You can hear Egolf discuss his protests on his multimedia website, windmillsonline.us.

At Boston.com.




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.




Free Speech Hero

Posted by Amanda Toering
June 30, 2005 @ 10:12 am
Filed under: Free Speech

Former priest Bill Sulzman acts up. He figures he’s been arrested two or three dozen times for civil disobedience, and at 67, he’s not about to quit.

Sulzman and Citizens for Peace in Space are suing the city of Colorado Springs for violating citizens’ free speech rights. At issue is a 2003 Colorado Nato meeting which was off-limits to protestors.

A month before the meeting of delegates from NATO nations was to be held, city officials announced that a security zone would be enforced around the convention center. Demonstrators would not be allowed within three blocks of the meeting. Even residents whose homes were inside the perimeter had to pass armed guards to go home.

Sulzman said that before the meeting, Citizens for Peace in Space submitted a written request for a one-hour period in which they could display signs at the convention center.

“Actually, I seriously thought we were giving away too much in our letter,” he said. “It was such a short time, and we were agreeing to not actively leaflet. It would have been government-approved speech if they decided to go for it.”

They didn’t.

So Sulzman decided it was just the kind of oppression that should be challenged.

The civil lawsuit, Citizens for Peace in Space vs. the City of Colorado Springs, is scheduled to be heard in U.S. District Judge Richard Matsch’s courtroom on Tuesday. It claims the city violated the First Amendment when citizens were not allowed to communicate their views to the NATO delegates. Sulzman’s group is represented by the American Civil Liberties Union.

If people acquiesce to the limits, the rules, the ideological screening of demonstrators and the free-speech zones, they are giving up too much, he said. “That kind of thinking has to be challenged so we don’t lose our free- speech rights. We didn’t want a precedent to be set here.”

The day before the hearing, Sulzman plans to participate in the annual ACLU Liberty Run at Washington Park.

He figures he has to stay in shape.

“I would like to see some big sweeping changes in our country and our church,” he said. “Lately I don’t see much evidence we’re moving in that direction.

“But I’m not quitting.”

From the Denver Post.




Protecting the Flag from Freedom

Posted by Eric Jaffa
June 30, 2005 @ 9:59 am
Filed under: Free Speech, Government

Don’t burn an apple pie!

Slowpoke Cartoon




A World without PBS? Here’s What You’d Miss…

Posted by Amanda Toering
June 30, 2005 @ 9:56 am
Filed under: PBS

The Seattle Post-Intelligencer’s TV gal, Melanie McFarland, gives you a list of things you’d miss about PBS if it were to suddenly disappear.

(And there’s more to it than Elmo.)

Read it at the Seattle PI.

Meanwhile, Rick Kushman of the Sacramento Bee has the same idea.

The only entity thing left, the place not doing cheesy, mean-spirited, finger-pointing reality, celebrity junk and headline-of-the-week movies is the network responding solely to the public: PBS.

That doesn’t mean it responds to every member of the public with every show, but the goal is to give America series, movies, documentaries, science and art it can’t get elsewhere. Yes, we need it.

That brings up the second question: What should it be? No doubt every person has a different answer because everyone wants the shows they like. Here’s what I want.

I want it smart. Don’t dumb down the science and round off the challenging ideas. Tell me about the string theory in physics, the origins of matter or the exploration of Mars. Show me the planet’s animals, minerals and vegetables; take me to places I can’t go; tell me what is happening to this Earth that is our only home.

Take long, thorough looks at history. Tell me about our wars, our music, our games. And show me some high art: paintings, dance and theater.

Here’s what I want even more. I want it to challenge power. This is an elected democracy. People in office have an obligation to tell the rest of us what they’re doing in our name. Left wing, right wing, bat wing, I don’t care. Congress, the courts and the president should be challenged.

And I want it to challenge powerful companies, utilities and individuals. If you buy the notion we should all live moral lives, we can ask private industry and influential people to do that, too.

Public television is a civic trust. It’s the last media outpost not serving someone’s quest for money, power or ego. It is far from perfect, but it’s still a unique, profoundly valuable enterprise, and we are better off because it’s there.

Kushman’s piece is reprinted in the reg-free IndyStar.

This post was brought to you by the letter P.




Public Access TV Inaccessible in Houston

Posted by Amanda Toering
June 30, 2005 @ 9:45 am
Filed under: TV

7/12/05: Update and action alert

Funding for a Houston public access cable channel has been put on hold because one councilwoman believes the channel’s content to be “obscene.”

Houston Media Source says its mission is to provide a “media forum for a free exchange of ideas, community dialogue, and individual and artistic expression.”

That may just be the problem.

Houston City Council member Addie Wiseman cites a “profanity-laced” segment that aired in the middle of the night as a reason to question the channel’s funding.

“It’s not violating anyone’s rights to say, ‘We have standards of decency, and they’ve got to be adhered to,’ ” she said.

Well, not exactly. Saying “You have to adhere to my standards of decency” is pretty much, a violation of everyone’s rights but your own, no?

But anyway…

Wiseman’s complaints have the city’s lawyers reviewing whether imposing guidelines on the channel would violate the First Amendment.

Meanwhile, Mayor Bill White, former chair of the Texas Democratic Party, is underwhelmed.

“Until we solve crime and traffic problems and redevelop every neighborhood, I certainly don’t intend to be watching at 3 in the morning and making calls telling them what to put on TV,” he said.

Council members Mark Ellis and Shelley Sekula-Gibbs have jumped on the squeamishness bandwagon.

Ellis told the Houston Chronicle that ‘though he’s concerned about censorship, he doesn’t think the public would support the city financing material that is degrading to women.’

And Sekula-Gibbs says that ‘vulgarity’ has no place in a publicly funded forum.

“Free speech is important, but free speech has a limit when it starts to hurt society.”

(By the way, Houston Media Source airs potentially offensive content only between 2 a.m. and 6 a.m.)

From the Houston Chronicle.




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.




NJ Tries to Weaken Open Records Law

Posted by Amanda Toering
June 29, 2005 @ 11:21 am
Filed under: Government

New Jersey officials are attempting to hobble the state’s open records law.

The state wants to limit public access to documents whose release could be demonstrated to “compromise the state’s ability to defend against acts of sabotage and terrorism.” Attorney General Peter Harvey also thinks that freedom of information requests ought to demonstrate “bona fide need” to know — which would be determined by “the head of a cabinet-level agency.”

Bad, bad mojo.

From the Courier-Post, via Behind the Homefront.




Free Speech Next Right

Posted by Amanda Toering
June 29, 2005 @ 11:02 am
Filed under: Free Speech?

Highland Park, IL, a suburb of Chicago, is allowing its citizens to exercise their constitutional right to free speech.

But only if they stand in the right place.

The HP city council has designated a “free speech area” in a local park. The “free speech,” however, isn’t exactly free.

Only two “free speech” displays will be allowed at any given time, and the two spaces are allotted on a first-come, first served basis. The “free speech” displays cannot remain for more than 30 days. In addition, those wishing to exercise “free speech” must obtain a $60 permit.

“Free speech” indeed.

Rest of the story. And from the Student Press Law Center, read this story on the fight to prevent college administrators from creating campus “free speech zones.”




Gay TV Debuts This Week

Posted by Amanda Toering
June 29, 2005 @ 10:49 am
Filed under: Obscene!

Logo, the first ad-supported network for the gay community, will have its coming out party tomorrow.

Will it be a rough road ahead? The Right has already flapped its gums about the prospect of gay TV. They’re sure to do more of it. Question is, will advertisers see dollar signs or pitchforks?

From the LA Times:

Still, Logo faces one stumbling block most start-ups never have to contend with: To some, its very existence might prove offensive.

“Logo needs to become synonymous with the gay lifestyle, just as MTV has become synonymous with the music lifestyle,” said Jack Myers, a TV industry forecaster and editor of www.mediavillage.com. But “they’re launching the network in the face of a governmental and regulatory environment which is anti-gay.”

In fact, since Viacom announced plans for the network, which was originally scheduled to launch in February, conservative politicians have intensified their focus on measures vehemently opposed by many gay rights groups, most notably a constitutional amendment, supported by President Bush and others, that would ban gay marriage.

Earlier this month, syndicated columnist and Parents Television Council founder L. Brent Bozell strongly criticized Viacom for launching Logo and celebrating “tolerance and diversity” while airing a program on its Showtime pay-cable network that featured magicians Penn & Teller using scatological terms to make fun of Mother Teresa. (A council spokesman did not return a call seeking comment.)

Some TV veterans said that Viacom may face an uphill battle in wooing mainstream advertisers. Paul Colichman, who makes gay-oriented fare through his Regent Entertainment and runs the Here! video-on-demand service for gay viewers, said he had disconcerting experiences with advertisers who insisted on “ghettoizing” gays and lesbians by, for example, assuming that each member of the community thinks and makes purchases in the same way.

But, he added, “if the advertisers can evolve in their thinking, it can be done.”

Stay tuned.




Teapot Readied, But Tempest Stays Home

Posted by Amanda Toering
June 29, 2005 @ 10:33 am
Filed under: Schools

What if you held a war over sex ed curriculum and no one showed up?

That’s what happened yesterday in Battle Creek, MI, birthplace of Tony the Tiger.

A committee of health educators prepared a presentation for parents on proposed curriculum for teaching the birds and/or bees.

But no parents showed up. (No word yet on whether professional protesters in Montgomery County, MD, are planning a Freedom Ride.)

In other news, Battle Creek’s Calhoun County has the highest teen pregnancy rate in the state.

From the Battle Creek Enquirer.




FCC’s Adelstein Again Urges Activists to Act

Posted by Amanda Toering
June 29, 2005 @ 10:22 am
Filed under: FCC

In an interview with the muckraking Buzzflash (and we mean that in the best possible way), FCC commissioner Jonathan Adelstein again stresses the importance of activist involvement in media issues.

BuzzFlash: Both you and Commissioner Copps participated in the National Conference for Media Reform presented by freepress.net in St. Louis in May. There was an outpouring of support for media reform as more than 2200 people gathered in the tradition of Tom Paine. What kind of role do people like those who attended the Conference for Media Reform have in ensuring that there’s not further media consolidation?

Jonathan S. Adelstein: I think activists play a really critical role in helping to mobilize communities that are concerned about this. It turns out that a vast public is worried about this, and it takes a handful of advocate leaders to make sure to channel that energy and let them know how to get involved, and how to impact the FCC and Congress. That’s a critical role for them to take.

After all, the law requires that we do what’s in the “public interest.” That’s what Congress asked. If we don’t have input from the public, it’s kind of arrogant to say that we somehow know better than the public what’s good for them. We need to involve the public and involve Congress — listen to what the public thinks is best for them. And it really takes the help from an organized and savvy group like those Americans who were represented out in St. Louis to make sure that all of the different viewpoints are well represented.

Read the entire interview at Buzzflash.




One Community’s Libraries, Bookstores Vow Not to Censor

Posted by Amanda Toering
June 29, 2005 @ 10:03 am
Filed under: Ban It!

These days, you’ve got to seize upon good news anywhere you can find it — even if it’s buried in a brief, online report from a small market TV news channel.

A book called The Rainbow Party has made some waves over the past couple months. Parents are outraged at the prospect of having to address the subject matter with their kids. Right-wing pundits are frothing at the mouth. Overall, seems like a widespread book ban is on the horizon.

But dig through this report from Iowa’s KWWL, and you’ll find that some libraries and bookstores are standing firm.

It’s not on the shelves at the Cedar Rapids Public Library, but it could be. Cedar Rapids library assistant director Bryan Davis says, “we base our decisions based on demand and anticipated need. If a book is potentially controversial , that isn’t part of our equation. If the community wants the book, then we are willing to get it.”

A spokesperson for Barnes and Noble says the book store will not censor controversial books. The same goes for the public library. Davis says, “we depend on the parents to monitor what their children read. And it’s for the reason that there is a wide range of taste and parenting styles within the community and it’s impossible for the library to satisfy each and every one of those.”

Benesh says her parents don’t censor what she reads. She says they don’t have to. Benesh says, “they know that I’ll read the appropriate stuff. They’re not worried about me reading anything I shouldn’t be reading.”

Refreshing, no?




Tongue Thai’d

Posted by Amanda Toering
June 29, 2005 @ 9:54 am
Filed under: CensorWorld

The Committee to Protect Journalists, an international NGO dedicated to worldwide freedom of the press, is shaking its finger at the government of Thailand for censoring politically unpopular websites. The CPJ also says the government is harassing outspoken radio host Anchalee Paireerak.

The Ministry of Information and Communications Technology (MICT) issued an order on June 18 to shut down www.thai-insider.com and www.fm9225.com for allegedly threatening national security and disturbing public order, and for allegedly failing to register the owners’ names properly, according to local and international news reports.

FM 92.25 began streaming programming on its Web site after authorities warned the station in April that its broadcast tower was too high and interfered with aviation communications. After complying with government orders to lower its transmission tower, the station had only limited range on the airwaves.

On June 20, the site’s Internet Service Provider (ISP) refused to carry the Web site, citing the MICT order. One day later, the site found another ISP, which also received the order to discontinue the FM92.25 site. Anchalee, program director and former host of some of its most critical shows, told CPJ today that FM92.25 was streaming its programs through a third ISP.

The government said its attempts to restrict this and other community radio stations were not politically motivated, according to news reports.

More at the Committee to Protect Journalists.




Take Care Not to Offend — It’s Offensive!

Posted by Amanda Toering
June 29, 2005 @ 9:42 am
Filed under: CensorWorld

Australian columnist (and Australian columnist) Janet Albrechsten has brilliantly called for an end to prudery in all its forms.

A current hot topic down under is the reality show Big Brother, which has raised the ire of some primmer Aussies by featuring nudity, hot tub scenes, and some very heavy petting. Albrechsten concurs that the vapid show is stupidly offensive, but says that the censorious, metaphorical Big Brother is much, much worse.

We live in a pusillanimous age where we lack the courage to be censorious over things that matter. Instead, we overdose on censoring things that don’t. For those who haven’t caught up with news in sin city, while the New South Wales Government hands out needles so drug addicts can continue an illegal activity that kills, the same Government is planning to ban a legal beer because of its name.

The beer is called Shag. And NSW Gaming and Racing Minister Grant McBride, says the Government doesn’t want to stop people having a good time, but “to name the product Shag links it directly with sexual intercourse — and that’s not on”.

Sound familiar?

Albrechsten argues that the most effective way to prevent sensitive sensibilities from being offended is for the owners of those sensibilities to simply walk away.

Better to let society impose its own form of condemnation by simply turning away (Big Brother viewers have been doing that in droves) or choosing not to buy the beer. If we want to be offended, let us. Governments who presume to be offended on our behalf will invariably get it wrong….

At every turn, there are those who would put the metaphorical Bromide in our tea. They need reminding that offence is a good thing. Society needs to make judgments on a daily basis about everything from distasteful TV shows to tacky slogans. Disapproval should not lead straight to censorship….

It hardly needs saying that just because you fall outside the authoritarian camp, that does not make you a libertine. The trick is to let individuals manoeuvre the middle ground and limit government interference to the extremes, where there is obvious and genuine harm to others, such as snuff movies and child pornography. Being offended by words is not enough to warrant the strong arm of Big Brother.

Brilliant.

From the Australian.




Action Alerts!

Posted by Eric Jaffa
June 28, 2005 @ 12:41 pm
Filed under: Action

The Electronic Frontier Foundation believes in “defending freedom in the digital world.”

Their website has six action alerts.

Some of these involve freedom of speech, the topic of this blog, more than others, but I decided to pass them all along.

Urge Congress to Reform not Expand PATRIOT

Best E-voting Bill Reintroduced — Lend Your Support!

Stop Congress from Raising the Broadcast Flag

Support DMCA Reform — Help Pass HR 1201!

Protect Public Weather Data

Stop the Trademark Act from Diluting Free Speech!




A Brief History of Book Bans

Posted by Amanda Toering
June 28, 2005 @ 10:18 am
Filed under: Book Bans

Ian Fraser provides his readers with hyperlinked a “crash course” in censorship, detailing book bans and obscenity trials all the way from the Marquis de Sade to the Turner Diaries.

From South Africa’s Mail and Guardian.




She’s Baaaaaaack!

Posted by Amanda Toering
June 28, 2005 @ 10:12 am
Filed under: Obscene!

Another month, another fast food chain.

The Paris Hilton ad hits the East coast this week, this time for Carl’s Jr. sister company Hardee’s.

Bill Boddie, the president of 330 some Hardee’s franchises in the southeast — including all of those in Virginia — has decided that the ad was a bit too racy for the locals.

Boddie won’t say what he thinks about the ad, he said he’s got a pretty good idea what many others think, and he doesn’t want to risk offending some customers - even if it might sell more burgers.

“Even though most people have already seen it, either on the Web site or through other media, we just found it best not to do it,” he said.

Executives at Hardee’s and CKE Restaurants’ headquarters in California won’t intervene with Boddie’s decision, said Brad Haley, executive vice president of marketing for Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr. Chances are, you’ve already seen the ad, he said.

“We respect Boddie-Noell’s right to make their own decision about what makes sense in their markets,” Haley said. “But in a sense, they get to have their cake and eat it too because the ad’s been seen more than 200 million times on national networks’ news programming. People in Hardee’s Land have basically already seen the ad quite a bit. It’s already had an opportunity to air in all of Boddie-Noell’s markets.”

From Roanoke.com.




Almost 220 Years Later, First Amendment “Gains Support”

Posted by Amanda Toering
June 28, 2005 @ 9:57 am
Filed under: Bizarre

It took a while, but we’ve come around.

USA Today reports that the First Amendment is gaining popularity among US citizens.

Maybe we’re finally getting somewhere.




Insert “Thou Shalt Not” Joke

Posted by Amanda Toering
June 28, 2005 @ 9:48 am
Filed under: Government

The schizophrenic Supreme Court ruled yesterday that public display of the Ten Commandments is unconstitutional.

In other news, the schizophrenic Supreme Court ruled yesterday that public display of the Ten Commandments is constitutional.

Here are the basic guidelines: If the Ten Commandments display is presented in a historical context, then you’re safe.

Unless the room is small.

Which you can maybe mitigate by hanging copies of other historical documents — say, the Declaration of Independence, the Emancipation Proclamation, and assorted speeches by Ronald Reagan.

Unless you’re in Kentucky.

If that doesn’t work, try putting the Commandments in an airy outdoor location.

If you’re desperate, or are in Kentucky, you can hire an artist to paint the scene where those tablets were delivered to Moses — but you might be better off if you leave the tablets blank and let the viewer fill in the details.

Unless you already have a painting that’s been around for, oh, say, 60 years — then you’re in the clear.

Oh, and if you’re in Texas — don’t worry. There will be some loophole through which your Commandments monument will fit.

Clear?

Up next: The Bible as a historical textbook for school kids.




Montgomery County School District Reaches Sex Deal

Posted by Amanda Toering
June 28, 2005 @ 9:21 am
Filed under: Schools, Montgomery County

You remember good ol’ Montgomery County, don’t you? They tried to teach their kids about the birds and the bees, but two groups called Citizens for a Responsible Curriculum and Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays sued? And then a judge struck down the curriculum for being insensitive to certain religious groups? Coming back to you?

After the judge nixed the lesson plan, the district and the plaintiffs settled out of court. Negotiations have been ongoing. This week, the school board reached a compromise on next year’s sex ed curriculum, and it’s not all good news for the Right.

Teachers will not be prevented from discussing homosexuality with kids. However, references in teachers’ manuals to homo-hatred among certain religious groups (we’re looking at you, Baptists) will be removed. The school district will not be required to include the stories of “ex-gays” in the curriculum.

“We’re very happy that the board pulled the other curriculum that we challenged, but we wished we could have gotten more,” said Rena Lindevaldsen, senior litigator with the Liberty Counsel, a Florida-based legal and education nonprofit group that argued on behalf of the two groups. Lindevaldsen said they had hoped to get assurances from the school system that the ex-gay viewpoint would be reflected in the curriculum and that the program would do more to address the health risks associated with homosexuality. But she said the school system would not agree. Still, she said, she felt the agreement included important procedural commitments that would ensure that parents are given adequate notice about the revised curriculum’s content and are able to see all teacher resource materials that will be used.

On the other hand, the settlement stipulates that two representatives from the plaintiffs’ groups will maintain positions on the district’s curriculum review board. (If that isn’t politically hinky, what is?)

Also as part of the settlement, the school district is required to pay the plaintiffs’ legal fees.

From the Washington Post.




All Politics Is Local, Even When ‘Local’ Means ‘National’

Posted by Amanda Toering
June 28, 2005 @ 9:02 am
Filed under: Cable/Satellite

We told you yesterday about the efforts of land-based radio broadcasters to maintain control over localized content; blossoming satellite programmers Sirius and XM are elbowing their way into the your-backyard market.

Well, folks up in Canada are fighting the same battle — albeit on a much larger scale.

The Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) has approved broadcasting licenses for Sirius Canada and Canadian Satellite Radio, a quasi-subsidiary of XM. Savvy Canadian media watchers fear that this is just one more example of American cultural imperialism, and they wonder why the CRTC didn’t give the nod to an all-Canadian bidder.

Quoth the Toronto Star:

The consequences for those who want to view or listen to Canadian programs, and for Canadian artists and creators, are stunning.

If the American deal is allowed to stand, it will be only a matter of time before conditions that have spawned tremendous Canadian talent, such as the requirement to play 35 per cent homegrown music, are a thing of the past.

Funding for development of Canadian programming and talent will suffer as Canadian broadcasters seek to reduce the levels of investment that are several times greater than those required of the new American entrants.

In giving American broadcasters the right to pump into Canada a huge menu of programs made up of nine foreign channels for every Canadian channel, the CRTC has abdicated its legal obligation to ensure the Canadian broadcasting system presents a predominance of homegrown programs. It has surrendered an impressive Canadian heritage of innovation and leadership.

All of our economic and cultural successes have resulted from people making conscious decisions to support and strengthen Canadian options. When faced with a choice between taking the path of least resistance or creating something distinctly Canadian, our visionary leaders from the past have chosen “the Canadian way.”

Representatives of a handful of labor unions and media and arts groups are appealing the CRTC’s decision.

Officials from the US satellite corps insist that five percent of their revenues will go toward “Canadian artist development.”

Additional info from Canada.com, The Globe and Mail, and various wire reports.




Cable TV: A La Carte = Higher Prices?

Posted by Eric Jaffa
June 27, 2005 @ 3:11 pm
Filed under: Cable/Satellite

An article on Brent Bozell, president of the Parents Television Council, brings up the possibility of letting cable customers only pay for the channels they want (a la carte):

The FCC has never had authority to regulate cable programming, but Bozell wants Congress to either extend the agency’s authority, or force cable systems to let customers pick and choose channels one by one rather than in large packages.

Bozell prefers the pick-and-choose method (or a la carte, as it’s known in the cable industry), which he says would give viewers control over what channels come into their homes. Parents wouldn’t have to worry about their kids sneaking a peek at The Shield or MTV Spring Break when nobody was around.

But both Hollywood and the cable industry have resisted a la carte so far, claiming it would drive up prices…

It seems to me that if cable customers typically pay $50/month for dozens of channels they don’t watch, and if instead they were given the option of a general fee of $15/month plus $2-per-channel/month, someone who chose 3 channels would then pay $21/month, a big savings.

The above prices are speculation on my part. Any law requiring cable companies to offer a la carte would have to limit the price-per-channel for channels with TV commercials.

A cable industry opposed to a la carte, forced to offer it by law but with no limit on how much they could charge for channels with TV commercials, might charge $50-per-channel/month, to effectively nullify the law and force almost all their customers to continue buying groups of channels.




Missouri School Backs Off of T-Shirt Ban

Posted by Amanda Toering
June 27, 2005 @ 1:10 pm
Filed under: Schools

The threat of a lawsuit by the ACLU has convinced a Missouri school district to end a ban on T-shirts supporting gay rights.

The ACLU filed a lawsuit in federal court in April against Webb City High School for violating LaStaysha Myers’ First Amendment right to free speech.

School officials sent her home twice in November for wearing a homemade T-shirt they branded “disruptive.”

One shirt sported handwritten slogans, such as “I support the gay rights!” and “Who are we to judge?”

Another shirt featured a rainbow and the Webster’s Dictionary definition of “gay” as being “m[e]rry, happy.”

While school officials claimed the shirts were disruptive, Myers claims she had just arrived at school before being sent home, meaning there was no time for students to react to her shirt.

From Gay.com.