The Howard Stern radio show has been taken off half a dozen channels for obscenity. The hosts of the similar Don and Mike radio show in Washington D.C. were placed on administrative leave for two weeks because a technical glitch allowed an obscenity to be heard on the air. "Bubba the Love Sponge" in Florida was fired outright. A cold wind indeed seems to be blowing through broadcasting, and you can't turn on a radio show today without hearing about it.
The thing is, for the most part I agree with what's happening right now. I reserve the right to change my mind or protest if I think it's goes too far, but at the moment to be honest I'm ever-so-slightly pleased at what's going on.
Nobody is as shocked as I am at that admission. For the longest time I was at the absolute tip of the anti-censorship crusade. "If you don't like it, change the damned channel" was the "phrase that pays" as far as I was concerned. Just a bunch of damned busy-bodies poking their noses into my entertainment, trying to tell me what I could and could not watch.
But you know what? As I've grown older, and more importantly had my own child, I'm beginning to realize just how much of this is crap for crap's sake. Shocking images, shocking sounds, shocking words that illuminate absolutely nothing, reveal only that we can be shocked, are simply a waste of everyone's time. Yes, I can (will) change the channel, but I'm growing increasingly tired of being required to every time I turn around.
So pardon me if I'm not particularly concerned that Howard won't be able to smear a woman's butt with cream cheese and throw bagels at it. Excuse me if I'm just a little relieved I won't hear even a bit of what Don or Mike saw in their toilet bowl this morning. And please forgive me if I think it's a good thing Arty Lang will have to be clever to get laughs instead of simply being good at "anal ring toss".
I've lived through all this before, and so have they. Reagan's Meese commission was far more effective at "suppressing smut" than the current FCC will ever dream of being. The country survived that, it'll survive this too. Slippery slopes? Please. I find irony deeper than an ocean trench every time some mindless twenty-something holds a "Bush = Censorship" sign up to a camera, or yet another drippy hippy writes a screed on their website proclaiming the police state has arrived. Got news for you sparky... people who have really lost their freedom of speech don't get the chance to complain about it.
I think everything, even pornography, has its place. I still believe changing the channel is the first, best choice for someone who doesn't like what they’re hearing or seeing. But I also believe people have an obligation to be decent to each other, that shocking people just to shock them is artistic masturbation, and that it's better to do good work than indulge in bad behavior. I don't think preventing Howard from broadcasting the description of a man's toe being inserted into a woman's vagina will result in the destruction of our free society.