Indecency and Obscenity: In the eyes of the beholder

The "Hunt for WMD's" was a bust and the "Hunt for Osama" seems to have stalled. It's only natural then that legislators would declare war on "Indecency and Obscenity" on television programming. The latter should prove much more productive as there is no agreed upon definition of the target making it relatively easy or difficult depending on the agenda)to claim victory.

The leaders of the effort to eliminate "Indecency and Obscenity" are Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) and Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.). Stevens has suggested extending indecency regulations to cable and Sensenbrenner has proposed jailing "purveyors of obscene or indecent material". He is quoted as saying, “People who are in flagrant disregard should face a criminal process rather than a regulatory process...”

Although Stevens was shown that the cable industry is working to prevent access to certain programs which may be deemed age sensitive, he remained unconvinced. He pointed out that the blocking technology does not work for customers who are on analog systems and do not have set-top boxes. When informed that cable companies offer free blocking technology for those individuals, he dismissed the effort by pointing out that to get the blocking service, customers are required to make a phone call and a wait for the cable installer (thereby assuring himself of making inroads into the 'extremely lazy and instant gratification' constituency).

Stevens and Sensenbrenner have temporarily left their head scout, Federal Communications Commission Chairman Kevin Martin, in charge of the day-to-day hunt, corralling, and killing off of "Obscenity and Indecency" in television due to calender conflicts.

Senator Stevens, who struggled financially for years, but has run into some good fortune recently, is tending to his newfound expertise in the "business of government".

He became rich by investing with real estate developer John Rubini, who turned Stevens' $50,000 investment in 1997 into an asset worth at least $750,000. Interestingly, other investors in JL Properties, the Anchorage real estate venture Stevens invested in, were required to contribute more capital if needed and to personally guarantee the partnership's debts. Stevens, though, refused to, and didn't have to, take on that risk. He simply requested to be left off of any financial obligation for the investment because he was still suffering from a "bad experience in a crab boat venture" from the 80's in which he lost money.

It should be noted that Stevens did, in fact, personally contribute in other ways. He is reported as helping Rubini secure a $450 million Defense Department contract to build and own housing on Elmendorf Air Force Base.

Stevens' even got his family into his new "business" ventures. His wife made at least $47,000 by buying bargain shares of Alaska Communications Systems stock and then selling them a year later. Stevens, as a senior member of the Commerce Committee, has influenced communications policy that has benefited ACS.

Ted Stevens' , received more than $750,000 over the past three years from part-time consulting work. The interests that paid Ben Stevens included Cook Inlet Region Inc., the oil field services firm Veco, and Bering Sea fish processors -- all of whom have benefited from provisions the senior Stevens has added to federal legislation.

Stevens also added $9.6 million to a federal bill to pay off a Hyundai subsidiary's loans for constructing a coal-loading facility in Seward. Bill Bittner, Stevens' brother-in-law, represented Hyundai Merchant Marine, a South Korean shipping company.

Stevens is expected back on the trail of "Indecency and Obscenity" immediately after checking in on the holdings he accumulated while in pulbic service as listed above.

Sensenbrenner, on the other hand, is busy appealing to a certain voting bloc by availing himself of the Terri Schiavo matter and using her memory in self-promoting speeches wherein he proclaims, "In our deeds and public actions, we must build a culture of life that welcomes and defends all human life. The compassionate traditions and highest values of our country command us to action".

Between celebrating the culture of life, welcoming and defending all human life, and extolling compassionate traditions, Sensenbrenner also embarked on a crusade against illegal immigrants to keep them out of the country and/or at least deny them driver's licenses and managed to cast a vote decreasing the waiting period for the purchase of a gun by lowering the time for a background check from 72 hours to 24 hours.

Analysts are unclear how Sensenbrenner's efforts, when combined, will affect illegal immigrants but the best guess thus far is that they will not be able to get driver's licenses or watch "indecent or obscene" television shows if they make it across the border, but they will be able to purchase weapons.

Sensenbrenner is expected to fully concentrate on the hunt for "Indecency and Obscenity" immediately after he comes up with an explanation as to why he does not consider illegal immigrants as a part of his definition of " all human life". Also, he's working on an explanation of how the "culture of life" is promoted by a 24 hour waiting period for a background check rather than a 72 hour wait.

Indecency and Obscenity should be worried. Gluttony, Greed, and Hypocrisy are saddling up.


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