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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 4/29/09

Still focused on the trees...

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Norman Lear, writing about yesterday's Supreme Court decision to uphold the FCC ban of the use of "fleeting" expletives on broadcast TV, ruefully notes:
Maybe now those pesky kids in schoolyards across the country will cease their fleeting use of those appalling words. Or, since the kid likely never lived who used a filthy word just "fleetingly," perhaps the Supreme Court will consider issuing a second ban on the wall-to-wall use of s- and f-words in the schoolyard.

It could happen. I'd put nothing past the cultural wisdom of Justice Scalia whose prevailing brief included these stunning insights: "We doubt that small town broadcasters run a heightened risk of liability for indecent utterances... their down-home local guests probably employ vulgarity less than big city folks, and small town stations generally cannot afford or cannot attract foul-mouthed glitterati from Hollywood."

Look how he nails us all -- kids; small-town folk; big city creeps; trashy Hollywood types -- does this man know his Americans, or what?! Certainly better than silly Justice Stevens, who in his dissenting opinion, finds it ironic that "while the FCC patrols the airwaves for words that have a tenuous relationship with sex or excrement, commercials broadcast during prime time frequently ask viewers whether they are battling erectile dysfunction or having trouble going to the bathroom."
I'm so glad that the highest court in our land has taken the time to settle one of the genuinely pressing issues that confront us today - and to issue a majority opinion that reinforces just how depraved we urbanites are compared to real Americans. Sheesh!

As Mr. Lear does note correctly, one need only visit a typical schoolyard to get an earful of America's favorite expletives. So I sincerely doubt that a majority of our kids will be scarred by the randomly broadcast obscenity any more than they're damaged by years of watching iCarly! That doesn't mean, however, that I disagree with Scalia in principle - I do feel we should step up efforts to regain a semblance of class in this nation, and educate our children to speak elegantly, accurately, and always with respect.

Believe me, my teenage sons don't need any further encouragement to drop an F-bomb in casual conversation!

And yet, while (in a broad sense) I bemoan the coarsening of our "culture" - and therefore, surprisingly, oppose the encroachment of random "s&$t"s and "f#%k"s into our primetime viewing schedules - yesterday's decision is yet another example of our collective inability to discern the forest from the trees. There is something far more insidious that permeates the American airwaves than the occasional swear word or ED commercial.

The intentional dissemination of lies.

While Scalia and his prudish compatriots fret over essentially harmless outbursts of bad language, we are pummeled daily with a barrage of obfuscation, misdirection, and half-truths from our television "news" divisions, organizations that are more concerned with profits and ratings than factual, dispassionate reporting; more obsessed with Lindsay Lohan's latest relationship woes than the fact that Taliban forces are now just 60 miles outside of Islamabad; more focused on driving a particular political ideology than a patriotic and constructive commitment to simple truth.

Over three years ago, addressing the FCC's similar "oversight" of obscene radio content, I wrote:
Now it's one thing if the fabricated facts being fed to an empty-headed public by such influential radio figures have to do with Brad and Jen and Angelina. Those tall tales are regrettable, even repulsive, yet in the scheme of things they don't amount to much. But it's another thing entirely when those falsehoods concern matters of grave importance, and are being used to sway a significant percentage of the population toward unwarranted support of issues with real consequence.

Things like Iraq's "connection" to 9/11. The Social Security "crisis". The torture and indefinite detainment of suspected "enemy combatants". The tenor of the Alito confirmation hearings and the big "crying" scandal. The "imminent threat" of a nuclear Iran - or a non-military San Francisco. The "necessary" wiretapping of American citizens.

Unlike some fraudulent gossip about silly Hollywood celebrities, misinformation on these topics affects the nation in demonstrably harmful ways. Bad legislation is written into law. Civil rights are violated and/or eliminated. Potentially violent divisions in our citizenry are fostered and exacerbated.

Young men and women are needlessly sent to die.

Yet despite the seriousness of the consequences that result from this ongoing litany of misdirection, there seems to be no regulatory body charged with guaranteeing that the information dispersed to the American public is actually based on proven fact, or ensuring that misinformation presented as truth (because of the potential harm that can arise based on said deception) is subject to swift rebuke, prosecution, and punishment.
As long as "the sun sets in the East" is given the same prominence as "the sun sets in the West" (under the guise of "balanced reporting"), as long as politicians are empowered to rewrite history without being challenged, as long as obvious untruths are allowed to be sold as fact without any common-sense restrictions, it is our flailing Fourth Estate that poses the greatest danger on TV. It ensures a confused, divided, and cynical electorate, unable to discern fact from fiction.

You'll never hear me say it on TV, but THAT s&$t is truly f#%ked up!
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After 25 years as a Post-Production Specialist in the greater New York/New Jersey area, Bob recently relocated to Orlando to continue his editorial business and begin Art Directing high-end commemorative magazines. He's been extensively involved (more...)
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