December 1, 2005

Al Gore TV Starts Tonight: Independently Owned

Posted by Eric Jaffa
July 31, 2005 @ 10:06 am
Filed under: Free Speech, Media Watch, TV

Sunday night at midnight Eastern, there will be a new cable channel, “Current.”

“Current” will let the public to interact with news stories by voting on which news videos to replay. Also, ordinary people who make their own news videos can send them to Current and have a chance they will be shown.

Al Gore is the biggest name behind the project. He’s said that Current isn’t a liberal news channel. Whether more that videos some consider liberal or videos some consider conservative get replayed will depend on the votes of the viewers.

“Current” is different from other news channels in that it’s independently owned.

By contrast, ABC News is owned by Disney, CBS News is owned by Viacom, NBC News/MSNBC/CNBC are owned by General Electric. Last and least (in terms of quality), Fox News is owned by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation.

“Current” will be available in 20 million homes.

It may be listed in your lineup as “Newsworld International,” the channel “Current” is replacing.


Bad News Bears Bugs Brent Bozell

Posted by Eric Jaffa
July 29, 2005 @ 3:02 pm
Filed under: Right Watch, PTC, Media Watch

Bozell with red hair and beard, black suit, yellow tie
Brent Bozell

The 1976 “Bad News Bears” contains expletives, and has a rating of PG.

The 2005 “Bad News Bears” contains more expletives, and has a stricter rating of PG-13.

This makes sense. It doesn’t seem to leave much room for Brent Bozell to complain. And yet

In 1976, “The Bad News Bears” was a funny movie about a team of Little League misfits, but it was also in its day raw in its language and child behavior. So how to “update” that? As the Los Angeles Times notes, the remake “has nearly as many four-letter words as it does bats and gloves.” Amazingly — and this is truly reprehensible — it’s also rated PG-13. Hollywood is not only peddling raunch to children, it is disguising the raunch in its parental advisories.

…There was one thing the MPAA drew a bright line against: “We were told in no uncertain terms that showing the kids smoking or drinking [as they did in the original] was a guaranteed R.” What foolishness will be next? Just wait until the MPAA thinks showing kids eating Twinkies is unhealthy and should earn an R.

Bozell doesn’t want to knock the original movie, which people reading his column probably saw a long time ago and have fond memories of. So he does a contortion to praise the original as “funny” and not mention its rating.

The re-make which his readers probably haven’t seen, Bozell knocks for not being rated R for expletives.

But if the director of the re-make had a kid smoking as in the original (which he didn’t) and if the MPAA gave the movie an R-rating for that reason, apparently Bozell would still be upset. Difficult man to please.

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NLRB Ruling Allows Employers to Ban Hanging Out with Friends

Posted by Amanda Toering
July 29, 2005 @ 2:53 pm
Filed under: Free Speech?

The National Labor Relations Board has upheld an employer-instituted ban on dating coworkers. The wording of the NLRB ruling, however, is sufficiently broad to outlaw after-work happy hours or Super Bowl parties at a coworker’s house.

Here’s a synopsis from American Rights at Work:

Security firm Guardsmark instituted a rule directing employees not to “fraternize on duty or off duty, date, or become overly friendly with the client’s employees or with co-employees.” In September 2003, the Service Employees International Union filed unfair labor practice charges with the NLRB against Guardsmark, claiming that the company’s work rules inhibited its employees’ Section 7 rights.

Section 7 of the National Labor Relations Act grants workers the right to “self-organization, to form, join, or assist labor organizations…and to engage in other concerted activities for the purpose of collective bargaining or other mutual aid or protection…” While the law allows employers to ban association among co-workers during work hours, Guardsmark’s rule was broader in that it applied to the off-duty association of co-workers.

On June 7, 2005, the Board ruled 2 to 1 that Guardmark’s fraternization rule was lawful. The Board majority argued that workers would likely interpret the fraternization rule as merely a ban on dating, and not a prohibition of the association among co-workers protected by Section 7. But the dissenting member of the Board pointed out that since the rule already mentions dating, workers would understand fraternization to mean something else. She noted, “the primary meaning of the term ‘fraternize…[is] to associate in a brotherly manner’…and that kind of association is the essence of workplace solidarity.”

While there are reasons for employers to ban dating among co-workers (namely to prevent sexual harassment), prohibiting off-duty fraternization is something quite different. Such a ban inevitably chills collective action of any sort — be it on a purely social basis or related to employees discussing whether to form a union or not.

This is a chilling curtailment of employees’ rights. Let’s hope the ruling is refined by cooler heads.

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Colorado Court Says Phallic Papal Piece Doesn’t Violate Amendment #1

Posted by Amanda Toering
July 29, 2005 @ 1:39 pm
Filed under: Right Watch

In what may well have been the Stupidest Lawsuit Ever, a judge has decided that a sculpture of a Catholic bishop, displayed on the grounds of a Kansas university campus, does not violate the First Amendment.

How could a statue violate the First Amendment, you might ask?

Well, see, it turns out that some Catholic observers were offended by the Bishop’s traditional miter (a.k.a. his “pointy hat”), which was a tad too phallic for some. Others felt that his “grotesque” facial expression was implicitly anti-Catholic. The combination of factors apparently violated someone’s right to free expression of religion.

Thomas O’Connor, a biology professor, and Andrew Strobl, a student, argued that the sculpture is anti-Catholic and represents an official expression of hostility toward their faith, violating their constitutional right to religious freedom.

“This anti-Catholic symbol mocks God the Father, and it attacks the sacrament of Penance, the ecclesiastical authority of the Roman Catholic Church and the role Christ plays in the sacrament of Penance,” the lawsuit said.

Sculptor Jerry Boyle of Longmont, Colo., said he sees the work as a “humorous piece” and that he is glad that it has sparked a discussion.

“That’s one prerequisite of a good piece of art — they’re thinking about it,” he had said in previous interview. “You look at it and you get out of it what you want to.”

The court sided against the offended parties, and the suit has been tossed. The display of the statue was always intended to be temporary, and the pointy-headed bishop no longer haunts the grounds of Washburn U.

From the Denver Channel.

Thanks, carter.


News Flash: Brent Bozell Complains about TV, Is a Hypocrite

Posted by Amanda Toering
July 29, 2005 @ 1:15 pm
Filed under: PTC

Or, specifically, about its ratings system.

This ho-hum, color-me-unsurprised diatribe wouldn’t be an interesting story — except that Bozell previously excoriated NBC for refusing to use the ratings that he now criticizes. (NBC agreed to use the ratings’ content descriptors shortly before the networks banded together to extoll the virtues of the V-Chip.)

If it’s not one thing, it’s another. It must suck to be Bozell.


We Are Family: Next Steps for Broward

Posted by Amanda Toering
July 29, 2005 @ 1:06 pm
Filed under: Right Watch

Now that some of the dust has settle in Broward County, Sun-Sentinel columnist Michael Mayo has some advice for the post-We-Are-Family school board.

Now that a harmless music video featuring Muppets and cartoon characters has become a flashpoint in the Culture Wars, the Broward County School Board needs to do a few things.

First, allow the video in conjunction with the tolerance theme already being taught as part of the schools’ character curriculum.

Second, revamp the advisory Diversity Committee, starting with the removal of inflammatory talk radio host Steve Kane. Finally, remind the homophobes out there that this is 2005, that students with gay parents exist and that the School Board’s official policy bans discrimination on the basis of “age, color, disability, gender, national origin, marital status, race, religion or sexual orientation.”

Given all the challenges facing the school system, it’s a shame so much energy gets devoted to something so silly. But the battle over SpongeBob, Barney and Big Bird singing We Are Family to elementary students has turned into something bigger. That much was clear at the School Board’s Tuesday meeting, where an overflow crowd came to protest superintendent Frank Till’s rejection of the video and recent comments made by some diversity committee members.

The video, co-sponsored by the Anti-Defamation League, has been accepted for use in Miami-Dade and Palm Beach County public schools. The video has no references to same-sex couples, but it does show interspecies mingling, like Kermit the Frog with Miss Piggy.

As much as the School Board wants this to go away, as much as Till tries to say the video is redundant, unnecessary and potentially confusing to kids because of the schools’ Stranger Danger program, the reality is something important is at stake. The video needs to be accepted.

The School Board needs to send a message that no student should feel ashamed about his family, even it doesn’t conform to the conventional mom-dad model.

The board also needs to signal that it won’t bow to the exaggerated fears of those like Kane, who think a classroom mention of gay parents is tantamount to an endorsement of homosexuality.

Mayo continues

Meanwhile, a Sun-Sentinel reader weighs in. And a Miami Herald pundit offers his own encapsulation of the SpongeBob debacle.


No More Grand Theft Auto in Australia

Posted by Amanda Toering
July 29, 2005 @ 12:37 pm
Filed under: Ban It!

After deliberation, Australia’s official censor has banned the sale of controverial video game “Grand Theft Auto.”

From the Sydney Morning Herald:

“The Classification Board made this decision on the basis that it contains contentious material (activated through a code or otherwise) that was not brought to the board’s attention when it was classified,” it said in a statement.

The board found the game’s content “contained material that could not be accommodated at the MA15+ classification”.

It is now illegal to sell the game, which had been rated MA 15+, the highest classification for video games in Australia. The game has already sold more than a quarter of a million copies.

Last week, Coles Myer — which owns the Myer, Target and Kmart stores — and David Jones immediately pulled the game from their shelves.


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.


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

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BBC Censors Pro-Confection Tweenies

Posted by Amanda Toering
July 29, 2005 @ 11:55 am
Filed under: Media Watch

The BBC pulled a kids’ song from its website after complaints from outraged Christians Muslims Jews dentists.



Right-Wing Comic Book, Coming Soon

Posted by Eric Jaffa
July 29, 2005 @ 7:05 am
Filed under: Right Watch, Government, Media Watch

The right-wing controls the voting machines, the judiciary, the White House, the Congress, and much of the media.

What does that leave for them to fantasize about?

The excitement of being the underdog.

At least in the case of comic book writer Mike Mackey, whose mini-series “Liberality For All” will debut in October 2005, published by ACC.

The comic book will bring us a world of 2021 with a President Chelsea Clinton and Vice President Michael Moore.

In which anti-hate speech laws, called “Coulter Laws” (after columnist Ann Coulter), passed in 2007, making “right-wing talk shows, and conservative-slanted media, illegal.”

In which Rupert Murdoch lost his media empire due to these Coulter Laws, and George Soros took over the Murdoch media empire.

And in which heroes Sean Hannity, Oliver North, and G. Gordon Liddy are cyborgs who broadcast from a pirate radio station.

Sean Hannity comic book drawing, in which he's broadcasting a radio show wearing an eye-patch over his left-eye and a cyborg left arm.
Sean Hannity’s face is wider, but other than that, this is exactly how a cyborg Sean Hannity working at a pirate radio station would look.


No Surprise: White House Aide Front-Runner for FCC Seat

Posted by Amanda Toering
July 28, 2005 @ 1:18 pm
Filed under: FCC

White House aide (and Texas native) Michael Meece is being labeled the front-runner for one of the vacant FCC seats.

From the Washington Post:

Meece is the deputy director of the White House public liaison office and previously worked as deputy chief of staff to Don Evans when he was U.S. Commerce Secretary during President Bush’s first term.

Among other names circulating as potential occupants of the other seat are Deborah Tate, a director on the Tennessee Regulatory Authority, and Suzanne Terrell, who unsuccessfully tried to unseat Louisiana Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu in 2002, the sources said.


Comcast Accused of Blocking Anti-War Emails

Posted by Amanda Toering
July 28, 2005 @ 12:59 pm
Filed under: Free Speech?

Activist David Swanson, founder of anti-war site, says that internet service provider Comcast refused to deliver emails related to his website.

“We didn’t know it, but for the past week, anyone using Comcast has been unable to receive any Email with “” in the body of the Email,” Swanson wrote on his website.

“Comcast said that … Symantec refused to lift the block, because they had supposedly received 46,000 complaints about Emails with our URL in them. Forty-six thousand! …Could we see two or three, or even one, of those 46,000 complaints? No…”

Swanson said he was trying to raise awareness about the memo and get Americans to lobby the US Congress to inquire into whether President George W. Bush had lied about the reasons for the Iraq war.

He said that once one of the activists involved in the campaign posted Symantec’s phone numbers on his site, and Symantec’s communications department received complaints, the block was removed.

More in the Sydney Morning Herald.


Iraq War, Graphic Portrayal

Posted by Eric Jaffa
July 28, 2005 @ 11:10 am
Filed under: Media Watch

The evening news in the US rarely shows footage of the dead and injured in Iraq, whether soldiers or civilians.

But a new dramatic series titled “Over There” on basic cable channel FX contains fictional graphic images.

One can see actual graphic images at the blog, “Crisis Pictures.”


How Successful is Keith Olbermann of Cable TV’s MSNBC?

Posted by Eric Jaffa
July 28, 2005 @ 6:36 am
Filed under: Media Watch

Keith Olbermann wearing glasses, a black suit, and an orange tie
Keith Olbermann

Keith Olbermann hosts “Countdown.” It’s a news show broadcast for one hour each weeknight on cable channel MSNBC.

Olbermann isn’t necessarily a liberal, but is to the left of most MSNBC hosts.

A recent post by Armando at the blog “Daily Kos” notes that Olbermann often gets the highest ratings of any show at MSNBC. Post below edited for spelling.

I saw this ratings synopsis and it really impressed me that it looks like Olbermann is really the biggest show on MSNBC now. Pretty impressive. Remember, “Hardball” was their signature show.

Evidence that truly “fair and balanced” news is a ratings winner? Is it not time that these cable news networks stop trying to Out-Faux Faux?

However, Fox News gets much higher ratings than MSNBC. This includes Bill O’Reilly’s “The O’Reilly Factor” which is opposite “Countdown.”

A visitor to the “Daily Kos” blog named jakechid responds. Post below edited for spelling.

Hooray for the Tallest Midget

When I first read this, I thought it had to be a joke. Especially this line:

Evidence that truly “fair and balanced” news is a ratings winner?

O’Reilley has more than 8 times as many viewers. For pete’s sake, Paula Zahn has almost twice as many viewers. Of the five shows on cable news in the 8 PM time slot, Olbermann’s is consistently fourth, and that’s only because CNBC is included at all. How is this a definition of success, quiet or not?

This is about as priceless as Ted Kennedy saying the Democrats are a majority party despite having minorities in the Senate, the House, Governorships, and State Legislatures.

But I guess it shouldn’t come as a surprise given the tripe that has been written about the success of Air America. A Tip for all of you delusional sycophants: when Rush Limbaugh is kicking Al Franken’s ass by an 3.5:1 ratio in LA, the most liberal city in the most liberal state of the union, Air America is not succeeding, it is floundering.

But I imagine the definition of success has changed for liberal ventures in the media, in order to be more esteem-based. No longer is it number of listeners, viewers, or advertising revenue, but rather keeping on air because the check didn’t bounce.

The Opinion Factor

A big difference between Bill O’Reilly’s “The O’Reilly Factor” and Keith Olbermann’s “Countdown” is the amount of opinion.

Bill O’Reilly does a nightly segment he calls “tonight’s Talking Points Memo” in which he gives his opinion.

Olbermann rarely gives his opinion.

I wonder if Olbermann added an opinion segment to “Countdown,” if his ratings would increase.

It’s nice that Olbermann often gets the highest ratings on MSNBC, but O’Reilly is creaming him.


Wal-Mart to Un-Ban Pensacola Paper

Posted by Amanda Toering
July 27, 2005 @ 1:34 pm
Filed under: Free Press

Issuing an uncharacteristic “Oops,” Wal-Mart has decided to un-ban the Pensacola News Journal. Wal-Mart threw the paper on its proverbial ear after it published an op-ed that dared to criticize the retail giant’s effect on small communities.

More at Pandagon.


Broward School Board Smooths Ruffled Feathers

Posted by Amanda Toering
July 27, 2005 @ 1:15 pm
Filed under: Schools

The Broward County School Board met yesterday to revisit the “We Are Family” diversity program.

The decision to keep Elmo and SpongeBob out of the district’s curriculum did not change. However, school board members reached out to members of the community who were offended at the implication (or — if you focus on “diversity” committee member and right-wing wag Steve Kane — explication) that teaching tolerance “messes with kids minds.”

School Board members condemned anti-gay comments made by some diversity committee members, who are appointed by the board.

‘’There were unfortunate things said at the meeting. I repudiate those,'’ said School Board member Marty Rubinstein. “Any attack on the gay community I liken to the Nazi attack on Jews during World War II.'’

School Board member Robin Bartleman said she was concerned by statements made by diversity committee members and intended to bring forward a resolution next month reaffirming the board’s commitment to diversity, tolerance and respect.

And School Board Chairwoman Stephanie Kraft said the comments did not reflect the ‘’message that the district or board has ever set forth,'’ pointing to the district’s code of conduct, anti-bullying efforts, character-education program and nondiscrimination policy.

During the diversity committee’s discussion, Steve Kane, a radio talk show host and member of the committee, said, ‘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.'’


Stratton Pollitzer, South Florida director of Equality Florida, Tuesday called the School Board members’ statements “encouraging.'’

‘’We needed an acknowledgment that the ugliness of this debate does not reflect the school district,'’ Pollitzer said.

Here’s hoping that, if nothing else comes out of this, Steve Kane either learns what “tolerance” means or loses his post on the diversity committee.

From the Miami Herald.

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ABC: “Welcome to the Neighborhood” Cancelled Because of “Episodic Strucure,” Not Protests

Posted by Amanda Toering
July 27, 2005 @ 1:04 pm
Filed under: TV

In an apparent attempt to deflect criticism over its wet-noodlish cancellation of the reality series “Welcome to the Neighborhood,” ABC has designed a clever justification for canning the show:

Basically, it just wasn’t very good.

ABC Entertainment president Steve McPherson discussed the cancellation at a press conference.

McPherson said the network was actively promoting the airing of the show, while racing to get the rest of the episodes ready, and had not seen the completed series.

“As we started to see it, we realized that if you air it in the episodic nature that it was scheduled to air, you could, maybe confuse the audience as to what the message you are trying to get across and what you were trying to portray,” he said. “And it really became a question of what’s responsible, to air it or not. We didn’t want to air something just because of the controversy. And I really felt like when I looked long and hard at it in this form, it wasn’t right. The show was not ready to go, and the responsible thing was not to air it.”

McPherson did not rule out the possibility that ABC would eventually air the series. (And with all the built-in publicity the show now has, why wouldn’t they? Who wants to bet they’ll let Donald Trump test the waters?)

More at MediaWeek.

Austin’s Begging Ban Unconstitutional

Posted by Amanda Toering
July 27, 2005 @ 12:53 pm
Filed under: Free Speech

A municipal court judge has overturned an Austin, TX, ban on panhandling, saying that the local ordinance violates free speech.

The case centers on a homeless man who was arrested for displaying a sign requesting spare change. The homeless man, with the help of the Texas Civil Rights Project and Texas-RioGrande Legal Aid, appealed the arrest.

From the Austin Business Journal:

“This is a victory for free speech and for what’s right,” says Robert Doggett, a TRLA attorney. “Homeless folks often have enough problems without the police chasing them down and arresting them.”

The case was brought forth after Robert Curran was arrested when he was carrying a sign that read “Donations of any kind will help.”

The defense didn’t deny Curran violated the ordinance, instead opting to argue the way it was enforced violated free speech protections.

The ordinance says “a person who is in or next to a street, on a sidewalk, or in a private parking area commits an offense if the person solicits, or attempts to solicit, services, employment, business, or contributions from an occupant of a motor vehicle.”

“It is clear from the tickets that the police are targeting the homeless for arrests and intimidation,” says Wayne Krause, TCRP lawyer. “But even the most unfortunate have rights. The arrests must stop, and as a city and community, we need to exercise more compassion and work toward solutions that combat the problem of homelessness, not just the symptoms.”


Free Speech: Rights vs. Reason

Posted by Amanda Toering
July 27, 2005 @ 12:38 pm
Filed under: Free Speech

Great Britain has recently considered a law that would criminalize hatred-inciting speech.

Activists in Australia have begun to talk about tightening that country’s existing anti-villification laws as tensions with muslims increase and as neo-nazis step up verbal and physical violence against aboriginal people.

The Sydney Morning Herald, however, wonders where to draw the line between free speech and forbidden speech. It’s a difficult and delicate question.

Banning the expression of… grubby ideas is going to lead us into absurd and embarrassing tangles. While we’re stripping bookshops of repugnant texts that urge the destruction of Israel, perpetual jihad against the US, and tell how to turn yourself into a human bomb, what should we do with Leviticus and its call for homosexuals to be put to death? And what should we do with the new edition of Mein Kampf that sells steadily in Australia?

Staying clear of this mess has traditionally depended on one key issue: the danger of violence. Incitement to violence is an ancient crime, against the law in every corner of Australia. Anyone who incites others to acts of violence is guilty of a criminal offence. That’s also the law in Britain. Even in the US, constitutionally guaranteed freedom of speech ends at the point where speech might lead to “imminent lawless action”.

This is the power we’ve always had to combat fanatics trying to whip secular and religious terrorists into action. At the core of the crime — for centuries — has been the provision that the threatened violence must be direct, intended and close to hand. That’s how freedom of speech is protected.

But from the Blair Government after the London bombings has come the idea of a new law that will make “indirect incitement to commit terrorism” a crime. John Howard, his Attorney-General, Philip Ruddock, and Bob Carr have all said they’re keen on the idea. The trouble is no one quite knows how it would operate. Blair’s police minister, Hazel Blears, has given only very sketchy details. She says it would apply to people who “seek to glorify terrorist activity”, perhaps by praising suicide bombers as martyrs.

So far, it’s all incredibly vague. Blears admits it is very difficult to give examples. “It would depend on what words were used. Were they an endorsement, were they a glorification? In some cases, the tone of your endorsement might take it into glorification.”

The debate on this — in Britain and Australia — has yet to begin.


Confederate Flag Redux: Is Racism and Accusatory “-ism,” Or Is It Symbolized by the Stars and Bars?

Posted by Amanda Toering
July 27, 2005 @ 12:15 pm
Filed under: Free Speech?

Another day, another Confederate flag story.

The director of the Southern Legal Resource Center in Asheville, NC, decries the renewed attacks on the Confederate battle flag. The flag, says Roger McCredie, is simply a symbol of southern heritage, not a representation of racism.

Further, says McCredie, “Racism is to this generation what communism was to the last generation. It’s the accusatory ‘ism’ of choice.”

McCredie is working with a group of Maryville (TN) residents who are seeking to retain the Confederate battle flag as a spirit symbol at Maryville High School, home of the Rebels.

The city’s board of education met Tuesday night to consider a policy change that would bar the Confederate battle flag — effectively all flags except those approved by the school administration — from school-sponsored events.

The Confederate flag has long been a tradition at Maryville High School sports events.

In a phone interview from his Asheville office, McCredie said he would meet with supporters of the flag in the next couple of weeks to “explore legal options.”

McCredie, who has written a pair of Internet articles that take critical looks at the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and the Southern Poverty Law Center, says the Constitution “does not guarantee the right not to be offended.”

“Our position is that flags should not be removed if they are removed simply in order to appease somebody or not offend somebody, ” he said.

McCredie acknowledged that the policy change before the Maryville board is titled “Event Safety,” but he said, “We can all snicker up our sleeves at that.”

“Nobody has had an eye put out, and there have been no incidents arising out of it.”

Moreover, he said, the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati, which handles cases for Tennessee, has ruled in a flag-related case that “the apprehension of trouble is not sufficient to deny the civil rights” of someone who chooses to display the Confederate flag or a representation of it on their clothes.

“All we are trying to do in our humble way,” he said, “is to see to it that” people are allowed to “express pride in who they are.”

More about McCredie in the Knoxville News Sentinel. More about Maryville’s battle with the battle flag at WATE 6, Knoxville.


Armed Forces Radio: They Play Rush Limbaugh, So Why Not Al Franken?

Posted by Eric Jaffa
July 27, 2005 @ 10:15 am
Filed under: Government, Media Watch

Senator Tom Harkin’s office says that Armed Forces Radio has over 62 hours of conservative talk per week.

And zero minutes of progressive talk (link to pdf.)

Harkin (D-IA) has proposed an “amendment to the Defense authorization bill to provide political balance in talk radio programming,” writes Media Matters for America.

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Independent World Television: Monthly Milestone

Posted by Eric Jaffa
July 27, 2005 @ 9:46 am
Filed under: Media Watch

Imagine a cable news channel with no ads; no corporate sponsorship; no government sponsorship. Funded directly by the masses.

That is the concept of Independent World Television, whose programs should air on “Link TV” in 2007.

Their website has been online for about a month, and they are asking people to sign-up to receive email from them.

I signed up.

My only objection to their model is that in addition to banning corporate donations, they should also limit the size of individual donations:

How is a million dollars from a corporation any more-or-less corrupting than a million dollar personal donation from the CEO of that corporation?

I’ve suggested a maximum donation per person per year.

I emailed them and posted that in their blog-comments section. However, I’ve received no reply.


Howard Stern: Will Fans Have to Pay to See or Hear Him?

Posted by Eric Jaffa
July 27, 2005 @ 6:35 am
Filed under: FCC, Free Speech, Government, Media Watch

Howard Stern wearing sunglasses, with long black hair
Howard Stern

Howard Stern hosts a controversial radio show. It is broadcast on FM and includes interviews with strippers.

Video of Stern doing the show is re-broadcast on cable television, basic cable’s “The E! Channel.”

Stern is moving his radio show from FM to satellite in 2006 to avoid FCC fines.

Indecency fines will greatly increase if the “Broadcast Decency Enforcement Act of 2005” becomes law.

Cable television isn’t currently subject to FCC fine for indecency, nor does the “Broadcast Decency Enforcement Act of 2005″ change that.

However, there are other bills in Congress which would apply FCC fines to basic cable, and Howard Stern may be preparing for this possibility, by going to Video on Demand, in which customers pay for an individual show.

From the Internet Movie Database:

Howard Stern’s move to Sirius satellite radio may be accompanied by a simultaneous move of the TV version of his show to Comcast Cable, where it would be available by subscription “on demand,” TV Week reported today (Monday).

The trade publication said that an uncensored version of Stern’s radio show could attract about a million video-on-demand subscribers. It quoted Cathy Rasenberger, a cable distribution consultant, as saying, “Having Howard Stern on subscription VOD is a killer application for the [video on demand] platform. … It would draw a lot of viewership. It would be as big a coup for Comcast as it was for Sirius.”

While the above passage implies the move to Video-on-Demand move is intended to cash-in on the greater ratings of showing naked strippers over pixilated strippers (who are pixilated on basic cable like the E! channel as a matter of tradition and not law), steering clear of possible legislation that may include fines for even pixilated strippers may be a motive.

1 Comment

Telus Update

Posted by Amanda Toering
July 26, 2005 @ 11:59 am
Filed under: Free Speech?

Yesterday we told you about Canadian telecom company Telus’ juvenile decision to block the website of its striking employees’ union.

A blogger at Tasteful Future contacted Telus about their decision and has posted the response from the company.


TELUS has prevented access to from or IP addresses.

This independent web site, which is hosted by a service provider outside of TELUS, was blocked because it publishes confidential TELUS documents, photos of TELUS team members who have chosen to continue to work, and instructions on how to carry out harmful actions that impede TELUS? [sic] ability to serve our customers.

While the web site remains operational, TELUS has blocked access to the site to protect our employees, our assets, and reduce activities that are clearly designed to limit our ability to provide the highest level of customer service possible.

Access to the Telecommunications Works Union website ( is not impacted by the above.

We apologize for the inconvenience.

The blogger goes on to hunt for the offending “confidential” documents (as I did yesterday), but couldn’t find them.

Read more at Tasteful Future.


Appeals Court Will Review Sale/No Sale of SoCal PBS Station

Posted by Amanda Toering
July 26, 2005 @ 11:54 am
Filed under: Right Watch, PBS

Southern California PBS station KOCE has successfully convinced an appeals court to review its decision overturning the sale of the station.

The Coast Community College District put KOCE up for sale in 2003. Although religious broadcasting company Daystar bid on the affiliate, station officials chose to sell the station to a group of local interests that promised to maintain the station’s educational purpose. Daystar sued for religious discrimination and a court overturned the sale. (For more, see “Religious Broadcaster, Community, Battle for Ownership of PBS Station.”)

KOCE asked the court to review the decision. Yesterday, it agreed.

From the LA Times:

The 4th District Appellate Court’s action might include another hearing, but the justices are more likely to reexamine materials already filed. The judges could come to almost any decision, from allowing the original sale to go though to deciding the station should be sold to the Daystar Television Network.

There is no deadline for the court to make a decision.


The college district and Daystar both asked the appeals court to review its decision after it canceled the sale and said the district could either keep the station or hold another round of bidding. Daystar, which the court said made the highest bid, wants the court to order the district to sell the station to the televangelism firm.

The district argues that the judges’ original decision was wrong and the station should remain in the foundation’s hands.

Richard Lloyd Sherman, a lawyer for Texas-based Daystar, said it was unlikely the court would completely change its mind. “Based on the language of their original ruling, they’re not going to change the basic opinion,” he said.

Milford Dahl, the district’s attorney, said, “It’s not necessarily a positive sign, but at least we don’t have an adverse opinion right now.”

KOCE President Mel Rogers was more confident. “We believe that once all the facts in the case are clarified, we’ll get a good result,” he said.

Daystar also has sued the district and the foundation in federal court, accusing them of violating the law to keep a Christian broadcaster from buying the station.


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