December 3, 2005

Rightwing Group Embraces Jimmy Stewart Movies

Posted by Eric Jaffa
August 19, 2005 @ 1:44 pm
Filed under: Media Watch

Jimmy Stewart handles a batch of telegraphs on the Senate floor in a scene from 'Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.'
Jimmy Stewart filibusters as Senator Jefferson Smith in the 1939 film “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.”

American Film Renaissance” is a rightwing non-profit which holds film festivals across the US.

According to their FAQ:

We here at AFR love movies, but we’re tired of films that wallow in victimhood and self-pity or portray America, big business and religion as the roots of all evil. Our goal is to promote movies and screenplays that positively portray traditional virtues of freedom, family, faith and love of country — what we refer to as ‘heartland’ values.

However, under their sidebar of “Movies We Like, two of the movies are “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington” and “It’s a Wonderful Life.”

Both movies star Jimmy Stewart and are directed by Frank Capra. Both movies have negative portrayals of Big Business.

“Mr. Smith Goes to Washington” involves a Congress corrupted by Big Business. It’s about a Senator (Jimmy Stewart) whose bill for a summer camp is sabotaged, because a greedy industrialist has bribed Congress to put a dam on the planned location, where he owns land.

In “It’s a Wonderful Life” the bad guy is a rich realtor. That realtor would take over a town if not for the owner of a small savings-and-loan (Jimmy Stewart) lending people money to buy homes.

If I had been asked to name two movies which portary Big Business negatively, I might have said “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington” and “It’s a Wonderful Life”


Apparently the rightwingers who run AFR like these Frank Capra movies, which is fine.

But I wonder if “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington” had been released this year, if these rightwingers would be condemning it as a movie which portrays “big business… as the root(s) of all evil.”


Here’s Your Chance To Be a Literary Hero

Posted by Amanda Toering
August 19, 2005 @ 9:41 am
Filed under: Free Speech

Prominent authors are auctioning a chance for you to be in one of their books.

Though gimmicky, the auction will benefit the First Amendment Project.

Participants include Stephen King, Michael Chabon, Dave Eggers, Amy Tan, John Grisham, and Dorothy Allison.

Check it out.


Meet Penny Nance

Posted by Amanda Toering
August 19, 2005 @ 9:32 am
Filed under: FCC

While this observer was relaxing by the ocean last week, word spread that anti-everything activist Penny Nance had been hired by the FCC. Nance takes the nebulous role as “advisor” to the FCC’s Office of Strategic Planning and Policy Analysis, where she will “advise” on cable and broadcast indecency.

Todd Shields of MediaWeek discussed Penny Nance’s hire with Bob Garfield on NPR’s “On the Media.”

BOB GARFIELD: Is it unusual for a federal regulatory agency to be hiring people who are clearly advocates for a certain political ideology?

TODD SHIELDS: The FCC says it hires people with this title, special advisors, people with certain expertise, quite often. But there’s a difference between possessing some technical expertise that the agency would seek, be it in law or in how gizmos work, and the kind of focus that Penny Nance has had, which is more or less broad-based advocacy…

The Republican Party runs all three branches of government in Washington right now, and a big part of their support is the conservative, Christian, family-oriented right wing. So if you lean that way in your politics, you’re not concerned, you’re encourage that people like Penny Nance are working and helping the FCC devise its policy. If you’re a First Amendment lawyer, you’re probably a little concerned about this, thinking that producers are going to be trimming their sails for fear of potential FCC finds. So it depends on how you think about those issues.

And First Amendment guru Paul McMasters (of the First Amendment Center) explores the history of censorship in our culture, tying the past to the more dire predictions of an indecency-fine-laden future.

The idea of setting more boundaries for speech and fewer boundaries for censorship should always give pause.

Decency advocates are so intent on their objective, so convinced of their rightness and so submerged in their own time that they always should be aware of the possibility of mistake. Otherwise, they fall victim to the sort of hubris that led Comstock to dismiss the redoubtable George Bernard Shaw as “this Irish smut-dealer.”

Good and smart people differ over what indecency means. But there are two ways we can respond when dealing with whatever it is that we determine indecency to be. The easy way is to get a government official or agency to ban it or regulate it. The hard way is to engage it, decry it, discourage it, present a better alternative.

That is the hard way, but it should be the American way.

So let’s recap:

No indecency fines yet this year. Complaints are down. Penny Nance is hired. Howard Stern hears rumors. Brent Bozell shifts his focus to cable/satellite (and so do legislators).

Don’t get too comfortable.

1 Comment

Ruling Protecting Kid from Parents’ Religion Overturned

Posted by Amanda Toering
August 19, 2005 @ 9:08 am
Filed under: Religion

In one of the more jaw-dropping rulings we’ve seen around here, an Indiana judge ruled in May that two divorced parents were not to expose their child to their religious beliefs. (In this case, Wicca.)

The ruling, part of a divorce decree, was overturned by an appeals court panel this week.

Judge Patricia A. Riley, writing on behalf of the three-judge appeals court panel in a decision released Wednesday, said trial courts can limit parents’ authority if it’s necessary to prevent endangerment to a child’s physical health or significant impairment of the child’s emotional health.

However, there was no evidence of endangerment in this case, the judges ruled. They struck part of paragraph 10 from the decree but let the rest of the divorce stand, signaling the end of the legal battle.

Marion Superior Court Judge Cale J. Bradford, who approved the divorce decree after a court commissioner made the initial decision, agreed with the appeals court decision.

“This case was never about freedom of religion,” Bradford said. “I support freedom of religion, and not just mine, either. That includes the Wiccans.”

From the IndyStar.

1 Comment