Thursday, February 26, 2004

Clearly Channeling Pat Robertson: Let's face it, going after "indecency" is just easy. It takes almost no effort to build up big headlines and it lets certain politicians pretend that they take tough positions on tough issues. It distracts people from things they really should care about because when you mention "censorship" in this country, everyone goes nuts. As Eno makes clear, "censorship" is when the government does it. When anyone else tells you to shut up it's something altogether different.

Clear Channel cares about advertisement revenue which is why it and all the other stations carry Stern - he's a cash cow. Clear Channel is only now pulling Stern for the same thing he's been doing now for two decades because Clear Channel must have some reason to fear that in our neo-neo-Puritan climate (all because of one weird looking breast in Houston), advertisers will pull their money out. Yes, the government has no doubt put intense pressure on the stations, but the government does this in a regular cycle. Note that MTV is already back to its old ways after promising to "clean" up its act. Oh, and to get meta about it, note that MTV is owned by Viacom, which in turns owns Infiniti Broadcasting which in turn owns K-ROQ where Stern is headquartered.

The fact is the government can't force Clear Channel to do anything unless it brings out the FCC Handbook and starts playing whack-a-mole. Therefore, I'd have to say this isn't real censorship, only a business caving into the government's behind-the-scenes pressure - i.e. making a business decision that it's better to play nice than stand up for something as silly as free speech. It doesn't chill me as much as it aggravates me. Plus, it doesn't mean Stern can't say what he wants, just that he can't say what he wants on certain radio frequencies in certain locales. If he's put in jail for it, then you start to worry.

I agree that the Janet Jackson stunt was stupid and inappropriate given the circumstances. It caused way too much discussion over an issue that the Europeans got over a hundred years ago if not more. Our country cares more about sex and drugs than it does poverty and violence - why again? Because they're easier to make noise about and pretend you're doing something about them, even if you fail time and time again. Our politicians take the easy way out and we let them. Yawn.

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