Sunday, April 17, 2005

Speechless Indecency

You could easily be forgiven for not really noting - much less caring - that noted FeministAndrea Dworkin popped her clogs last week. It was sort of ironic to learn that a womyn who had nothing but hatred for men, to judge by her writings, left a husband behind. But that she'd gotten married to anyone, much less "the Enemy," was something of a shock.

After all, we hadn't really heard that much out of her for some time. Her doughy face hadn't been seen as often in the press after her hey-day as an anti-porn crusader back in the 80's and 90's. She hadn't written anything notable in years, hadn't been rented out to speak about anything, and except for the occasional retrospective or "remember when...?" interview, she more or less disappeared. She could have become a cow mutilator for hire for all we knew. Maybe even a pole-dancer.

In other words, Dworkin suffered the fate best reserved for people of her ilk: another washed-up relic whose glory days had long since passed her by, she had not burned up, but slowly faded away in obscurity.

Unfortunately, the same cannot be said the poisonous ideas she expressed, or the Victim Culture she and fellow traveler Catherine MacKinnon helped promote. The notion that popular culture - with or without actual penetration - is a harmful substance that needs the same amount of governmental regulation as DDT has not only taken root in America's political culture since their time, but has been enjoying bipartisan watering.

And the latest flowers to grow from that poisoned soil are some frightening fuckers, indeed.

This article from Salon spells out the nasty details. Note how the already-increased fines for indecency are being proposed to go up to half a million dollars per infraction. They're also wanting to delve into the traditionally-safe realms of cable TV, and considering following Howard Stern right over to satellite radio (which is currently safe from the FCC) as well.

Also note that there is considerable support for turning such infractions into criminal matters, and having not only broadcasters, but the people who wrote the material, arrested on suspicion of having broadcast indecent material.

Saying that scares the hell out of me is putting it mildly, maybe about as mild as the shows these people would apparently prefer we watch.

I haven't been this worried about this worried about government intervention in our right to speak and be heard since the Clinton Administration. Back then, Attorney General Janet Reno (and where is she, now?) was actually threatening Hollywood with "action" over things like Beavis and Butthead, Deep Space 9 and the Adventures of Briscoe County Jr. And our Philanderer In Chief, with Tipper Gore in tow, was all too willing to pay lip-service to the loons who wanted to bowdlerize popular culture "for the sake of the kids."

That was the genesis of the television rating system still in use today, and the so-called V-Chip in our televisions. One would think that, between these two technologies, it would be a rare thing for anyone to be exposed to something they don't want to see: adlibbed whoopsies and "wardrobe malfunctions" notwithstanding, anyone who can program their VCR should be able to protect their family from smut. And if they really can't, well, maybe they should consider tossing the thing out the window and actually reading the books that sit on their shelves.

But that's too problematic for Mr. and Mrs. Smith of Anywhere, USA, it would seem. We're told that when Victoria Secrets did their flesh parade special, the FCC's complaint lines were swamped. They had more or less the same reaction when Janet Jackson's pierced hooter was "accidentally" exposed during the Super Bowl's halftime show, though that's a little more understandable (I doubt the game was rated TV-M)

On the other hand, Ms. Jackson's boob was, up to that point, the most-requested TiVO moment of all. That could indicate that while many people have a problem with such spectacles on their television, many more don't have that same problem. But the FCC ignores the preponderance of 'want' over 'don't want,' because they see their mission as keeping the airwaves both uncluttered and clean, if only to stave off yet more crashings of their complaint lines.

That they, and Congress, go after that which is unclean with an unusual vehemence can be laid at the feet of our nation's culture vultures, who have conned us into thinking that "indecency" is a very harmful thing. And while this viewpoint was once the bastion of the moldy-fig right and their theocratic hangers-on, "liberals" like Tipper Gore, Senator Joseph Lieberman, Catherine MacKinnon and the now-late Andrea Dworkin helped make it increasingly "hip" for the left to jump on the bandwagon.And we're now reaching the point of critical mass, where, as the article was kind enough to point out, voices of moderation and restraint in this matter seem as "out of it" as censorious liberals once did.

One of the articles I linked to, up above, pointed out that one of Ms. Dworkin's sadder contributions to our social and political culture is that "far too many young women today would rather be bitten by a rabid dog than be considered a feminist." Sadder still would be a total capitulation of our nation's ability to be treated like grown-ups, just for the sake of "the children" and those who are too lazy or unintelligent to figure out how to protect themselves from things like South Park.

I'm speechless. I really am. But I hope the vast majority of Americans can regain their voice and speak against this nonsense before our rights go the way of Andrea Dworkin - forgotten and then dead.


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