Considered musings and random commentary.
Tuesday, June 08, 2004
I ran across an article on Suite101.com, "Enlightening Words" (http://www.suite101.com/article.cfm/constitution_supreme_court/106877), in the Supreme Court section of History and Politics Community. The lady who wrote it is a retired judge (after 6 years... I wish I could afford to retire young).
Her article was about how the gov't has attacked the First Amendment by coming down on broadcasters in the wake of the Super Bowl "bare breast" issue. I know, hardly NEWs, but *I* just saw it, so I get to comment on it. I left the following message on the articles discussion board. What it comes down to is, if they get away with it, they get away with FORCING themselves on us -- destroying our expectations of privacy.
The article on how the gov't actions against the Super Bowl broadcasters is anti-First Amendment is poorly thought out. While gov't usually isn't best solution (to much of anything, I think), it still should serve some purpose, if we could get our "representatives" to actually DO something representative. But, WRT bare breasts on public prime-time TV, the gov't should step in (the Right to keep bear bare breasts not withstanding).
I don't take my sons and daughter into strip joints because I KNOW WHAT IS GOING TO BE IN THERE. I EXPECT bare breasts to be "flaunted" (however in-expertly). At the same time the viewer has a right (to coin a phrase) to expect that bare breast NOT be part of a FOOTBALL GAME (even a HALF TIME show during a FOOTBALL GAME). And it was not "accidental". It was on purpose. It was "IN YOUR FACE". It was in poor taste (but there's no accounting for taste). If was offensive (but we have a right to be offended). It was un-expected. It didn't belong and shouldn't have been there, and it was "forcing" an act upon the viewers.
I am not a prude. I love breasts. I support breasts (er, sort of). I think that, as a grown-up, I should see all the breasts I want. As an adult, I could visit a strip-club if I REALLY wanted "in your face" breasts. But I don't think it is appropriate to kick 'em out there for kids to view -- especially purposely. That's why we rate movies... so that the viewers (or viewers PARENTS) can tell what to expect. I expect my neighbors to copulate INSIDE their houses, or at least out of sight of the other neighbors, and certainly out of sight of kids. Still, having said that, I had my kids with me and I could go into an area and IF I KNEW THAT PEOPLE WERE COPULATING IN PUBLIC there and I COULD and would steer clear. If a couple stops in front of your house and starts "doing the dirty" in front of your kinds, I think you'd have a right to be a bit ticked off. If we're at a church picnic and a couple wanders in and starts copulating, people are going to be righteously offended (and, quite possibly, several might drop dead from shock... we have a very mature congregation). And they have a right to be upset. And folks who copulate in public (possibly HOPING to shock others) should be prosecuted. The difference between this example and in the Super Bowl is only one of degree.
I don't let my kids watch certain things because I decide, as a parent, that they should NOT see certain things (beheadings, copulation, random drugs use, random couplings of adults in public areas, etc.). To have someone "spring" a surprise like the occurrence at the half-time show infringes upon my RIGHT to expect some consistency in "decency" on TV. No, we didn't HAVE to watch it (the Super Bowl), but watching it, we should either have been warned prior to the exhibition -- so we could make other plans, etc. -- or should be able to take legal action to fight against this FORCING of someone else's (lack of) morals upon OUR family, in the privacy of our own home.
I also see little difference between this and the idiots who blast their stereos, at hundreds of watts, into surrounding cars. We "have some expectation of privacy" and these acts break that. I especially hate idiots blasting out their favorite "intellectual" music, "shit, bitch, fuck, whore, cock sucker...", etc. as they ride along and stop beside some family w/ young kids. If you want to listen to that, you have a right. You DON'T have a right to force it on others. Same reason we have noise ordinances in neighborhoods. I like that you get to party every night, but I shouldn't have to lose sleep because you're a jerk and crank the music up so we can hear it blocks away, etc.. (note, "you" refers to a fictional character in the example, not the author of this article of anyone READing this message.)
Now, about the rest:
"How does a television network or a radio station decide what political ad to air, and which to decline to air? The short answer? The bigwigs in charge, who bring their own biases to the table."
This is "freedom of speech"... it goes to the owner of the newspaper (station). If you want to put alternative messages out there, pay for time. The market works if you work it. And, no one says that any particular network or radio station HAS to take business or has to be used by businesses. Find other venues. There are literally HUNDREDS of channels out there -- something to offend everyone.. Try forcing a conservative religious broadcaster to air a commercial on the benefits of polygamist-Satanism or to run ads for abortion-on-demand... You get the example. Whose rights are being trampled?
" It's a chilling thought. And when one act -- planned or not -- during a Super Bowl half time show serves to set off a firestorm of censorship, and general foolishness, the entire intent, and spirit of the First Amendment is subverted."
The intent of the First Amendment was to safeguard religious and political discussion. I don't see that public display of nudity (especially in THIS instance) is either political or religious. And, it was forced on the us-suspecting public. WE have a right to privacy, and that include incursions into our privacy, not just stripping our privacy away. Idiots who push stupid issues like THIS are the ones who wind up WEAKENING our rights. It's THEM you should be mad at, not the "decent folks".
"The words aren't ironclad; you can't yell fire in a crowded theater, ..."
You CAN yell fire in a crowded theater, and you might be both morally obligated to do so as well as legally liable if you fail to do so -- if the crowded theater is on fire. That's a stupid, incomplete example and an old saw (rusty) at that. The WHOLE thing is, you are cannot expect to use the first amendment as a shield if people are hurt by capricious action (specifically stemming from "free speech"). You CAN yell fire in a crowded theater, but if it's not on fire, and people get hurt in the panic, you better be prepared to go to court -- and probably lose.
"And, there are other permissible restrictions as to time, place and manner."
And THAT is what this is REALLY about. Restricting time, place, and manner to the "reasonable" expectations of the audience. If ONE person is offended, to bad. If TWO people are offended, the "artist" can consider him/herself a success. If A LARGE GROUP of the audience is offended, then it probably means that the "artist" is in the wrong. And it looks actionable to me... some stupid thing about public decency. If the audience is warned ahead of time what will happen, and they think it will be objectionable, they won't BE there.
It's clear to me, and lots of other folks. All we can do it keep trying to make it clear to those w/ less common sense.
In other articles, she carroms off on un-related political tangents slurring George Bush and Condi Rice -- instead of sticking to the subject of otherwise good topics.
Maybe SHE did't retire after all... Do they elect judges in Texas? Maybe THEY retired her.