Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Going to Jail for Indecency

Christ. We've got Texas senators threatening judges, and now we've got Representative Sensenbrenner (R-Wi) saying that indecency standards on television should be enforced with criminal prosecutions.

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Violators of federal broadcast decency standards should face criminal prosecution, U.S. House Judiciary Committee Chairman James Sensenbrenner said on Monday.

``People who are in flagrant disregard should face a criminal process rather than a regulatory process,'' the Wisconsin Republican said at the National Cable & Telecommunications Association annual convention.

The problem I'm having is I can't quite figure out what the fuck he's talking about.

From another report:

"I'd prefer using the criminal process rather than the regulatory process," Sensenbrenner told the executives.

The current process -- in which the FCC fines a licensee for violating the regulations -- casts too wide a net, he said, trapping those who are attempting to reign in smut on TV and those who aren't.
note: 'reign in' is sic. and journalists wonder why we think they're idiots.

"People who are in flagrant disregard should face a criminal process rather than a regulator process," Sensenbrenner said. "That is the way to go. Aim the cannon specifically at the people committing the offenses, rather than the blunderbuss approach that gets the good actors.

"The people who are trying to do the right thing end up being penalized the same way as the people who are doing the wrong thing."

It's the last paragraph that's got me totally confused and for which I'm seeking help from those more familiar with Sensenbrenner's idiolect.

There's good swearing and bad swearing? There's good violence and bad violence? There's good nudity and bad nudity? Who gets to decide the rules? And why, when there is a shitload of really important things going on in the world, is Sensenbrenner deciding to criminalize the censorship process? Isn't that a hair scary to anyone?

Of course, I have my theory of what he's talking about in terms of the "right" people and the "wrong" people. See, when they show Mel Gibson's The Passion, which is absolutely full of indecent violence, on tv next Easter, that will be okay to show on t.v. because those will be the people doing the right thing. Those people trying to show Saving Private Ryan, which is also full of indecent violence but which suspiciously  looks like a criticism of the Iraq war, will be doing it for the wrong reason and should go to jail.

In the words of Humpty Dumpty, Chapter 6, Through the Looking Glass
`When I use a word,' Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, `it means just what I choose it to mean -- neither more nor less.'

`The question is,' said Alice, `whether you can make words mean so many different things.'

`The question is,' said Humpty Dumpty, `which is to be master -- that's all.'


FunkyB said...

I am more convinced as each day passes, that we are in the days of a modern day reformation. What gives me hope is the historical promise of enlightenment. I truly believe the Terri Shiavo incident will serve to usher in the later. For the time being, good intent/bad intent will be defined by the extremist wing of the republican party.

Snave said...

Re. Sensenbrenner, I saw a great bumper sticker a while back: "First they burn books, then they burn people."

1138 said...

Would it apply to Cheney for the F word, or to Bush for his finger incident?
Perhaps we shouldn't be too resistive to giving the Cons what they want - and giving it to them good.