Why government shouldn't police TV violence and "indecency"
I often disagree with the ACLU but I applaud their stance below. Good to see that they really do believe in liberty sometimes (when it suits a Leftist agenda). They certainly don't believe in freedom of religion
When is a cuss word broadcast over television or radio indecent? At a live awards show where an award recipient uses a profanity? During a war movie? In a blues documentary where expletives fly? If you said all three were indecent, you would be wrong. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is America's indecency police, but its vague and confusing criteria for what constitutes "indecency" leave everyone in the dark.
At the 2003 Golden Globe Awards, where rock star Bono exuberantly received his award, the FCC initially said it wasn't indecent, then, under pressure from Congress, said it was. Shortly thereafter, several stations refused to air the war movie "Saving Private Ryan" because of its multiple usage of the same expletive Bono used. When a complaint was made to the FCC, it declared the drama was not indecent. At about the same time, PBS aired "The Blues: Godfathers and Sons," a documentary whose real-life blues players used some profanity. The FCC decided it was indecent.
Confused? So are the broadcasters. The government should not be making these decisions in the first place. Parents should. Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D) of West Virginia introduced legislation in late July that has already passed the Senate Energy and Commerce committee to regulate indecency on television. And there is talk of a similar bill coming soon to regulate television violence. Congress should reject any proposals that would allow the FCC to regulate what the public sees on television.
Members of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) strongly believe that the government should not replace parents as decisionmakers in America's living rooms. There are some things the government does well, but deciding what is aired on television, and when, is not one of them. Parents already have many tools to protect their children, including blocking programs and channels, changing the channel, or (my personal favorite) turning off the television.
The ACLU is not blind to the issue at hand. We can see why some parents are upset about what they see on television. But the answer lies in teaching those parents how they can limit what their children watch - not censorship. Congress may choose to play a role in educating parents on the dangers of overexposure to media. But government focus should then be on providing those educational opportunities - not on replacing parents as the primary decisionmakers in their own homes. Government should not parent the parents.
Our concern is that imposing standards for television programming would be unconstitutional and damage important values that define America: the right to a free and open media, the right to free speech, and the right of parents to decide the upbringing of their children. Parents today have unprecedented control over what comes into their homes and what media their children consume. The most basic and user-friendly tool every parent has against unwanted media content is the ability to turn the television off, or to establish rules about where and when children may watch TV. Recent technology in digital boxes permits blocking by rating, channel, title, and even, in some systems, program description. Cable subscribers who do not have set-top boxes can simply ask their cable companies to block specific channels.
Additionally, a multitude of websites rate television shows, permitting parents to choose ones that suit their taste and to determine what their children watch. Both the Parents Television Council and Common Sense Media have easy-to-use websites.
The ACLU is not opposed to solutions that parents and industry come up with. What concerns us is when Uncle Sam gets involved. There is a long history of using the media as a scapegoat for society's problems. At one time or another, books, movies, opera, jazz, blues, rock 'n' roll, heavy metal and rap music, comic books, and video games have all been accused of causing antisocial or violent behavior among minors and adults. Since not all portrayals of violence are bad, the government would have insurmountable difficulty defining what is "good" violence and "bad" violence. Even those who research this issue use inconsistent definitions of violence. If the researchers cannot concur on an objective definition, then will any regulations provide truly objective results?
Parents have the tools they need to protect their children. If the government steps in and regulates the content of television shows or relegates certain shows to a late-night or early-morning hour, it steps over the line and becomes the Federal Babysitting Agency - replacing parents as the ultimate decisionmakers. The power to control the upbringing of children, including what they watch, should remain in the most capable, effective, and constitutional hands possible: the parents.
Amazing: Neo-Nazis in Israel!
Transplanted Russian Fascists, it seems. Russia's transition from Communism to Fascism is not a large one in that most things in Nazism can be traced back to Marx (including the antisemitism) but it is rather amazing after what Russia suffered at the hands of the Nazis
Police have cracked a neo-Nazi ring composed of immigrants from the former Soviet Union operating in the Petah Tikva area, police announced Saturday night, following the arrests of alleged gang members and the lifting of a gag order on the case. The arrests followed a more than yearlong investigation by the youth crimes division of the Central District Central Investigative Unit.
Police described the affair as "complex and sensitive," revealing that a group of youths acted on the basis of Nazi ideology. Police emphasized that all of the youths - except for one - were Israeli citizens who had made aliya under the Law of Return. The majority, police said, were immigrants who lived in the center of the country and identified religiously as Christians. Police have thus far arrested nine members of the group, who, according to suspicions, worked to propagate Hitler's ideology in the streets of Israel, while establishing relations with neo-Nazi groups overseas and attempting to imitate their activities.
Eli Boanitov, a 19-year-old Petah Tikva resident, allegedly headed the group, which police said displayed "cult-like characteristics." As the group's leader, Boanitov allegedly selected people for membership and served as the group's instructor and main propagator of Nazi ideology both on an ideological and operational level. Police said Boanitov "led them to attack, in a cruel and brutal manner, citizens and innocent people belonging to various groups including Asians, drug addicts, gays, punks and kippa-wearing Jews." In the police report, Boanitov was quoted as saying, "I'll never give up. I was a Nazi and I'll stay a Nazi. Until we kill all of them, I won't relax."
The group was uncovered during the investigation into two 2006 incidents in Petah Tikva in which synagogues were desecrated by swastikas and other graffiti. Police spokesmen said Saturday night that "because of the severity of the incidents, the great public interest and the importance of apprehending these suspects, then-Central District Commander (now police chief) Insp.-Gen. David Cohen assigned the investigation to the elite CIU's youth crimes team, led by Ch.-Supt. Revital Almog."
Police said that their big break came in June 2007. Information received by police directed them to the group of suspects. Initial checks on two of the youths - Boanitov (nicknamed Eli the Nazi), and 20-year-old Ilya Bondranenko - detectives said, increased their suspicions, and the two were taken in for questioning. Under questioning, Boanitov and Bondranenko denied all of the allegations against them, but following searches of their houses, police recovered Nazi materials including journals with sketches of swastikas, Web sites with Nazi content and neo-Nazi movies, including a German-language film about Nazism in America. On the suspects' cell phones, police discovered pictures in which the suspects were engaging in Nazi salutes and, in one picture, one of the suspects was seen holding a torn Israeli flag. The suspects were also sporting numerous Nazi-associated tattoos including "White Power" accompanied by Celtic crosses and a barbed-wire fence. The number 88 were tattooed on members' fingers, with police explaining that "8" represents the ordinal place of the letter "H," thus standing for "HH" or Heil Hitler.
The suspects were first arrested on July 23, and were released to house arrest on July 31. Police said that the more advanced stages of the investigation were largely successful due to the "professional and determined work" of the Central District Fraud Squad's Computer Crimes Unit, which labored to reconstruct deleted files that the suspects allegedly concealed and deleted from their computers. "The evidence spoke for itself and strengthened the need for investigation because of suspicions of racism," said police, describing the computer material as pictures and movies that were "difficult to view." The evidence documents members of the gang attacking what police describe as "helpless people" belonging to minority groups. "In the movies, one can see gang members punching and kicking, using broken bottles and everything at hand, attacking innocent victims without any prior contact or instigation," said police spokesmen.
In the movies, the faces of the suspects are frequently hidden by superimposed swastikas and at times, the suspects are seen wearing Nazi-style uniforms and delivering Nazi salutes, as well as delivering statements calling for the burning and destruction of the Jewish people. Police documented computer conversations allegedly carried out between Boanitov and others in which he both confirms and takes pride in his participation in neo-Nazi activity, as well as inspiring others to join though explaining racial-purity theory and justifying assaults on Jews and minorities.
In the course of the conversations, Boanitov allegedly goes so far as to express his desire to continue to attack, injure and even murder. In an unusual move, police called for immediate legislation to "prevent individuals and groups from adopting or acting according to Nazi ideology in the State of Israel."
Poland Demands EU Make Day for "Right to Life" Not Just Day Against Death Penalty
In the person of Jan Sobieski, Poland once before rode to the rescue of Europe. Increasingly, they are doing it again today -- but this time in the field of moral consciousness-raising rather than in the field of military force
The European Commission's proposal to establish a European Day Against the Death Penalty has come under sharp criticism from Poland, which says the European Union (EU) instead needs to promote a day dedicated to the protection of all human life. In the proposed declaration, the EU and the Council of Europe "stress the importance of persevering in the pursuit of actions aimed at abolishing the death penalty in the world" and "invite European citizens to support the abolition of the death penalty in the world and thereby contribute to the development of fundamental rights and human dignity."
However Poland has objected to the notion that "development of fundamental rights and human dignity" can take place without being placed in the context of the "right to life." "We think that when anybody wants to discuss a problem of death in the context of the law it is also worth to discuss on euthanasia and abortion in this context," declared a spokesman for the Polish delegation. The spokesman added, "We are not sure whether it is worth establishing a special day" for only the death penalty, especially since all EU nations had already abolished the death penalty.
The Polish maneuver anticipates the September 18 meeting of EU justice ministers, which would formally give the go-ahead for the death penalty day. The day would coincide with the October 10 "World Day Against the Death Penalty" held since 2003.
Ambassadors of EU member states are expected to discuss the declaration further today. Since the declaration is subject to unanimous agreement in the EU Council, Poland's continuing rejection of the death penalty day would effectively make the proposal dead on arrival.
Legal Tips for US Parents to Protect Family Values from School Tampering
With the school year getting underway, the law firm of Mauck & Baker has prepared a list of opportunities and rights to inform parents how to help reinforce the values taught in their homes in the public schools.
The news has reported irresponsible behavior by public school educators such as the Montana school district which required fifth and sixth grade students to participate in a psychological study where they were shown drawings of male and female genitalia and asked to circle the ones which most closely resembled their own genitalia. In Illinois, children were stopped from celebrating their particular religious holiday during the month of December."
According to John Mauck, a partner at Mauck & Baker, these ten simple preventative measures can prevent legal clashes between parents and administrators:
- Participate in school committees. Parents have strategic opportunities to serve as "gatekeepers" to reform or enrich curricula in family supportive ways.
- Find out what will be taught to your child before it is taught. Be vigilant about movies in class, since some districts allow vulgar, even R-rated films to be shown in class without parental notification.
- Insist that faith expression be respected in homework assignments. Students can use many types of assignments to discuss their faith, for example, writing a book report from the Bible, Torah, or Koran.
- Work with -not against- educators. Developing a relationship with your child's teacher will make it easier for your concerns to be heard.
- Encourage involvement in extra-curricular clubs. Student groups centered on faith, race, or other particular interests can make a tremendous difference in a student's maturation and school experience and can be more openly expressed in that context.
- Teach about sex at home. Ask for copies of all sex- education materials and assignments. Object if you feel they are offensive or undermine values taught at home. Help your child understand how differing views of sexuality derive from the divergent social and spiritual ideas about the value of a human being.
- Examine teachings on homosexuality carefully. Make sure students at age appropriate levels are allowed to fully and fairly consider all view points and explain your views to your child particularly if the public school presentation is unbalanced.
- Review textbooks and Assignments. For example, if you feel they omit or distort important aspects of American history or give an unbalanced view of life through assigned reading, raise questions.
- Never tolerate Discrimination. Ask your child what occurs in class. Not only racial discrimination but discrimination based upon faith, disability, gender, obesity or income should not be permitted in the classroom or curriculum.
- Know where to get help. Talk to the principal if you think your child's teacher is distorting values you wish your child to have. If the principal is unresponsive contact members of the school board with your concerns. If you need further help contact the Illinois Family Institute, the Family Research Council or a private Attorney.
"Both parents and teachers are often confused about the boundaries between home values and school curriculum. In order to help our children achieve their potential, parents and teachers must first understand that parents have the primary privilege and ultimate responsibility for the moral and spiritual instruction of the child," said John Mauck, a partner at Mauck & Baker.
Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.
American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.
For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when blogger.com is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.