Amy Werbel on America's most influential censor: Searching for Smut: Hot on the trail of Anthony Comstock (1844-1915). Comstock wielded the 1873 Comstock Act (named for him) like a cudgel to improve the morals of the nation, protect children, and stamp out indecency. [more inside]
The best of the worst of the week on television. The Parents Television Council, a U.S.-based watchdog organization trying to stamp out indecency on the airwaves, is doing their part in the war against moral turpitude. How? By creating a website where they host videos of the most offensive scenes on television... inadvertently creating some of the most amusing content on the internet!
The mice that roar. "According to a new FCC estimate obtained by Mediaweek, nearly all indecency complaints in 2003—99.8 percent—were filed by the Parents Television Council, an activist group." We already know what a few people can do to your television viewing... is this man effectively in charge of the FCC's indecency monitoring?
The Chilling Effect. Some ABC affiliates have opted not to broadcast a scheduled airing of Saving Private Ryan, due to concerns over new FCC indecency regulations. They don't want to get fined. The FCC won't say in advance whether the film is indecent ("that would be censorship"). But don't worry, the Parents Televsion Council says the "context" makes it OK. Which is fine, but who utlimately gets to judge the context?
Crap - now they FCC Thought Police are going after Pink Floyd. Is nothing sacred?! WNCX, a local Cleveland "Classic rock" station (who just happens to be the same station that airs The Howard Stern Show in the area) is unable to play Pink Floyd's "Money" because of the use of the word "bullshit" within the song. To be honest, until this was brought to my attention, I had completely overlooked that lyric in the song. But thanks to the FCC War Against Indency, I'm now fully aware of it! What other cases of 'indecency' would you have overlooked had the authorities not brought it to your attention?
A New Milestone for Video Games? "Three of the nation's top retailers, including Wal Mart, on Monday said they had refused to carry a new video game billed as the first major release to feature full-action nudity and with prostitutes and pimps as major characters." I enjoyed their "banned ads" myself.
The Morality Police. "Our hysterical attempts to shield kids from images of sex and violence are stunting young lives -- and trapping us all in a Big Lie." A well-argued piece, more of an op-ed than a straight-up book review. As a scientist I only quibble with the author's musing that "if there really were a cause-and-effect link between real violence and media violence, then it would have been proven by now."
Scotland Yard raids Saatchi Gallery over complaints of child pornography in Tierney Gearon show - Why? Gearon, a former fashion model turned art photographer, has included in the show a couple of pictures of her children naked. "In one the two children are wearing theatrical masks while in the other her son is urinating in the snow." Gearon sees nothing wrong with her pictures, but apparently they make some people a little nervous.