Gratuitous violence and indecency...

Fret not America. The Federal Communications Commission and Congress are hard at work to relieve you of your community, family, and parenting responsibilities so you have more time to spend trying to find and fight over the last minimum-wage job that hasn't been outsourced.

Lawmakers and the new F.C.C. leadership are proposing to expand indecency rules yet again. Their plans include increases in fines and a brand new assault on broadcasts they don't feel are appropriate for you or your child by adopting new procedures that could jeopardize the licenses of stations that repeatedly violate the rules (as defined by Congress- naturally).

Sen. Stevens has raised the ante by proposing to regulate cable (to save you from yourself since you have a choice as to whether you receive it and validate that choice on a continuing basis by paying the monthly bill). Not to be "outmoralized", Sen Hutchinson and Sen. Rockefeller chiseled out a bi-partisan bill that would raise fines to $500,000 and allow for doubling them in certain circumstances. Dismissing concerns that a fine of this size could pose a threat to the existence of small community-oriented stations, Sen. Rockefeller voiced what, it seems, is the thinking among our legislators:

"I would welcome voluntary actions by the industry to address both indecency and gratuitous violence, but they aren't stepping up to the plate, and that's why Congress cannot wait any longer to protect our communities and our families... if the industry won't protect our children from gratuitous violence and indecency, then we must act."

Yes indeed, Congress is stepping in to prevent another Janet Jackson "mushroom cloud" from being beamed to our innocent, unsuspecting eyes. Some have suggested that individuals not wanting to experience this simply monitor the stations watched in their homes or, as America haters have suggested, take the drastic step of turning off the television. This is no solution. After all, how else are we supposed to see the latest Administation propoganda tapes on the local news or find out about the latest erectile dysfunction cure (call your doctor if the "thing" doesn't recede in four hours- titillated yet?).

Obviously, gratuitous violence and indecency seems to have struck a chord with Congress. It does give one pause, though. Since the argument rests on the conditional term "gratuitous", then if it were "paid for" violence and indecency- would it be covered by the law? It seems unlikely. One would have a hard time outlawing war.

It's much easier to outlaw indecency as defined by insulated men and women in insulated environments who have no actual connection to the world the rest of us must toil in (breasts, profanity, and the indecency of a lack of basic health care).

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