Slashdot stories can be listened to in audio form via an RSS feed, as read by our own robotic overlord.

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Censorship Your Rights Online

PBS Feels FCC Chill On Censorship 1037

Posted by simoniker
from the watch-out-for-that-shark dept.
Shadow Wrought writes "The San Francisco Chronicle is reporting on PBS censoring one of its upcoming drama shows, Cop Shop, due to the chilling effect of the most recent FCC rulings on indecency. Star Richard Dreyfuss offered these choice words as part of a prepared statement, 'It is inescapably censorship under guidelines imposed after the fact by those who are in temporary political power, and so it should be treated as what it is -- a real-world moral and ethical battle with grimly wrongheaded, un-American types who play pick and choose when they define our freedoms of speech and religion as it fits their particular political needs.'"
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

PBS Feels FCC Chill On Censorship

Comments Filter:
  • Here we go .... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by YankeeInExile (577704) * on Monday July 12, 2004 @01:49PM (#9677514) Homepage Journal

    The slippery slope my homeland is heading down ...

    1. Boobs are bad, because we must protect children from sexual images. (Despite no scientific proof that such images are actually harmful.)
    2. Swearwords are bad, because we must protect children from scatological talk, lest they grow up to be Howard Stern.
    3. Pointing out flaws in national security is bad, because we must protect children from terrorist attack.
    4. Speaking ill of the Current Power Structure is ba, because we must protect children from policies we do not agree with.
    sigh... it was a nice democratic republic we had once.
    • by YankeeInExile (577704) * on Monday July 12, 2004 @01:52PM (#9677563) Homepage Journal
      let me trump myself. 5. Profit.
    • Re:Here we go .... (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Blindman (36862)
      This is just like on the Simpsons where Mrs. Lovejoy always says, "Won't anybody please think about the children?" (or its functional equivalent). It was funnier when it wasn't the basis for actual as opposed to animated public policy.
    • by Rei (128717) on Monday July 12, 2004 @01:54PM (#9677592) Homepage
      It takes a Brit [pythonline.com] to say what we feel about this sort of stuff ;)
    • Re:Here we go .... (Score:4, Insightful)

      by tcopeland (32225) * <tom@tho m a s l e e c o p e land.com> on Monday July 12, 2004 @01:54PM (#9677593) Homepage
      > Speaking ill of the Current Power Structure
      > is ba, because we must protect
      > children from policies we do not agree with.

      Apparently it's not too bad, since you just did it. For real censorship, see China or, perhaps, Syria.
      • Re:Here we go .... (Score:5, Informative)

        by Rei (128717) on Monday July 12, 2004 @02:02PM (#9677705) Homepage
        Well, to be fair, we're only#17 [www.rsf.fr] in terms of media freedom. Of course, that's out of 139. While I'd rather we be up there with Finland, I'm just glad we're not down there anywhere from Israel (#92) to North Korea (dead last at #139).
      • Re:Here we go .... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Art Tatum (6890) on Monday July 12, 2004 @02:10PM (#9677817)
        You know what I find amusing about this thing? My reply about people who screamed about free speech while exercising it was...modded down as flamebait! Kinda gives you a sense of pride...
      • Re:Here we go .... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Geno Z Heinlein (659438) on Monday July 12, 2004 @02:54PM (#9678516)
        Apparently it's not too bad, since you just did it. For real censorship, see China or, perhaps, Syria.

        There are two problems with this.

        First, countries don't go downhill overnight. If Bush and Company had a press conference where they all twirled their thick black mustaches and laughed, "MUAHahahahaha!", everyone would know they were the bad guys.

        Instead, they tell us that we need to be defend against terrorism, or that they're protecting children, or so on. They start by attacking unsympathetic people, advocates of the most radical changes, the most overtly threatening speakers. For instance, those people who worked with Iraq or Afghanistan being held at Guantanamo without access to counsel, or political radicals, or pornographers. They have the right to counsel under US law and US legal tradition. But they're working with the enemy, or anarchists, or sleaze-peddlers, so we can look the other way just a little bit on this whole due process concept, right?

        Over time censorship goes up and free speech goes down. A little at a time, a little here, a little there... they sneak it in, so it only offends the strongest free speech advocates, also known as "next on our list". Eventually you can't criticize at all without risking jail time or worse.

        And if you think that the current administration thinks of censorship as a necessary evil, something we have to endure for the crisis, remember this: when Bill Maher called US pilots "cowards", White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said, "... they're reminders to all Americans that they need to watch what they say, watch what they do. This is not a time for remarks like that; there never is." (Emphasis added.)

        Second... China or Syria? "Oh, hey, sure we're less free, but look at China and Syria! They're way worse than us!" is not the smartest way to approach this issue. The United States is dedicated to being the most open and most free society ever created. We're supposed to work for something more than "better than these other guys". We're supposed to strive to embody in concrete reality our highest abstract aspirations.

        The idea that we can get away with a barely passing grade on free expression is profoundly unpatriotic. It is an abandonment of the rights that were held sacred by the founders of this country.
      • Re:Here we go .... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 12, 2004 @03:30PM (#9679033)

        Apparently it's not too bad, since you just did it. For real censorship, see China or, perhaps, Syria.

        This all-too-common response is congenitally stupid.

        Yes, censorship is worse in China and Syria. That doesn't mean that censorship doesn't happen in the U.S., that it isn't a bad thing, and that we shouldn't do what we can to stop it. Or are your highest aspirations for the U.S., when it comes to free speech and censorship, really only to be better than China and Syria?

        Every time I read a reply like this, saying "you think X is bad here? Just look at country Y! It's really bad there!" I imagine someone shrugging off spousal abuse by saying "in Afghanistan, they cut off women's heads!!!" Yes, that's true; now can we get back to the subject, and discuss how we make things better here?

    • by RatBastard (949) on Monday July 12, 2004 @01:55PM (#9677603) Homepage
      "Boobs are proof that God exists and want's us to be happy".
    • by lothar97 (768215) * <owen AT smigelski DOT org> on Monday July 12, 2004 @01:58PM (#9677647) Homepage Journal
      It always steams me that they'll edit out breasts and other "sex" things in movies, but movies like "Predator" and "Resevoir Dogs" will be shown on TV, with lots of people getting shot up and spewing blood all over. Is that really a better image we'd like kids to see? I myself would just prefer not to edit anything out.
      • by TopShelf (92521) on Monday July 12, 2004 @02:24PM (#9678044) Homepage Journal
        More to the point, it's all about nipples, not breasts. My wife was watching a show called "Dr. 90210" about plastic surgeons, and this one lady was trying to get a boob job corrected (the first guy she went to fouled it up). They showed picture after picture (topless, full view) of her boobs as they talked about the procedure, but where the nipple should have been, they fuzzed it out.

        Beyond stupid...
    • Re:Here we go .... (Score:4, Insightful)

      by CommieLib (468883) on Monday July 12, 2004 @02:07PM (#9677770) Homepage
      I dub thee...STRAWMAN SLAYER!!!

      When, by the way, did we have an America where boobs and swear words were on TV? I don't remember it.

      Chapter 243 of my new book, Things We All Fricking Know But Like To Pretend We Don't For Some Reason covers the obvious reality that maybe children should get some scope on the universe before they engage in activities that make them parents. Of course, this inhibits pleasure, so a Slashdotter cannot conceive of it.
      • by sploo22 (748838) <dwahler@gmail. c o m> on Monday July 12, 2004 @02:16PM (#9677915)
        So a three-month-old baby has a chance of accidentally conceiving each time it breastfeeds? Wow, you learn something new every day.
    • Seems likely that most here would declare themselves to be anti-censorship ..... until their own particular threshold is crossed. And if one indeed has such a threshold (and most do, somewhere), then moral indignation at someone else's more restrictive threshold seems hard to come by.

    • And those same people often think violence is just fine for their children to watch. Having two kids myself I just can't fathom that mentality.
    • Re:Here we go .... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Not_Wiggins (686627) on Monday July 12, 2004 @02:53PM (#9678491) Journal
      Swearwords are bad, because we must protect children from scatological talk, lest they grow up to be Howard Stern.

      Well, language is important enough to give careful consideration. Language is the basis of our views on the world... it gives a direct connection between a concept and a physical item.

      Most importantly, the value of the thing is usually directly associated with the value connected to a word.

      Do you get a different sense of respect/importance from these two sentences:

      I'm going to go pick up my girlfriend.
      I'm going to go pick up my bitch.

      Hate to say it, but the latter is becoming synonymous with the former in many urban areas.

      I think it is important that we carefully use words around children so they can learn their appropriate imporance in the world.

      On a related note, this was a major point of Orwell's "1984." If you can control the language of a people, you can also control the thoughts. Mostly by making "governmentally unpopular" ideas impossible to express because the language for them would no longer exist.

      The real worry is that the powers that be are trying to implement that idea using the first point I've made as the "excuse."
    • Bullshit (Score:5, Insightful)

      by DesScorp (410532) <.DesScorp. .at. .Gmail.com.> on Monday July 12, 2004 @03:12PM (#9678769) Homepage Journal
      "# Boobs are bad, because we must protect children from sexual images. (Despite no scientific proof that such images are actually harmful.)
      # Swearwords are bad, because we must protect children from scatological talk, lest they grow up to be Howard Stern."

      When have we NOT held that public nudity and swearing in public are a bad thing? Especially on the broadcast airwaves? When have we EVER allowed it?

      "# Pointing out flaws in national security is bad, because we must protect children from terrorist attack.
      # Speaking ill of the Current Power Structure is ba, because we must protect children from policies we do not agree with."

      One, what the fuck does either of these issues have to do with this show? And two, when has the press ever been NOT free to question the adequecy of national security, except during wartime? We're in a war right now (whether some people want to admit it or not), and none one has ever been censored for questioning national security. No press freedoms have been curtailed at ALL, unlike WW II, where official censors got to look at everything the press did before it was published.

      And not allowed to speak ill of the power structure? What??? Michael Moore's movie is proof that's bullshit. And the news networks don't seem to have any problem criticizing officials, elected and otherwise.

      "sigh... it was a nice democratic republic we had once."

      You can pine for a never-existant utopia all you want, but for the most part, we have as much freedom as we've ever had. With the exceptions of some things like the DMCA, tell me what freedom's we've lost that used to be written in law? Even the Patriot Act doesn't affect the vast majority of people in this country.

      PBS took prudent steps to obey the law and accepted public standards (which are far more lax now than they've ever been). There's no chilling effect here, just the whine of some people that want to scream oppression and censorship to get publicity.
      • Re:Bullshit (Score:5, Insightful)

        by killjoe (766577) on Monday July 12, 2004 @04:10PM (#9679588)
        "And two, when has the press ever been NOT free to question the adequecy of national security, except during wartime?"

        Why is there an exception to wartime? Since the govt can declare war anytime it wants for whatever reason it wants can't it simply declare a perpetual war in order to stifle press? Has it done that already?
      • Re:Bullshit (Score:4, Informative)

        by k98sven (324383) on Monday July 12, 2004 @04:18PM (#9679710) Journal
        When have we NOT held that public nudity and swearing in public are a bad thing?

        No argument there.

        Especially on the broadcast airwaves? When have we EVER allowed it?

        Before 1978, when the Supreme Court found [firstamendmentcenter.org] that the government had the right to regulate the obscene material in broadcasting.

  • Wrong poster child (Score:3, Interesting)

    by RobertB-DC (622190) * on Monday July 12, 2004 @01:51PM (#9677540) Homepage Journal
    From the SFGate.com article's subhead:
    3 no-nos bleeped from new crime drama -- Richard Dreyfuss blasts government censorship

    And further down the article:
    The cuts prompted executive producer and writer David Black and Dreyfuss to whip out prepared statements before facing the nation's TV critics here on Friday.

    Tonight on PBS: the world's smallest violin plays "My Heart Bleeds For You".

    I'm no fan of corporate-owned media, and the whoring of the airwaves by the likes of FOX. Today's "Reality shows" remind me of the government-run pornography industry in Orwell's 1984 -- a handy way to distract the masses from reality (election? what election?).

    But I doubt that "Cop Shop" is going to be the poster boy for government interference with free speech. I suspect that the star and producer have no higher goal than propping up their show's ratings. They had a prepared statement -- the press release crying "censorship" was composed before the show was even screened. That tells me that the show needs propping up by the controversy, because it's likely to fall down under its own pompous weight.

    Of course, I could be wrong...
    • I suspect that the star and producer have no higher goal than propping up their show's ratings.

      Yeah, so they could charge more for the commercials. Greedy opportunistic PBS bastards! Money grubbing wh... ummm, commercials... PBS...?, uh, nevermind.

    • by panicboy (253687) on Monday July 12, 2004 @02:00PM (#9677685)
      So the fact that they did not choose to speak extemporaneously indicates some sort of behind-the-scenes plan? The President reads prepared statements all the time; he doesn't seem to have a plan.
    • by RobinH (124750) on Monday July 12, 2004 @02:13PM (#9677873) Homepage
      I suspect that the star and producer have no higher goal than propping up their show's ratings.

      I agree with you that they're taking advantage of the free publicity, but if you attack their argument on that basis, what you have in an "ad hominem" falacy, which means YOUR argument holds no water.

      One person might be motivated to make an argument for any given reason (it does take time and effort to think things through), but you still have to evaluate the argument based on the content, not on perceived motives. Who cares what their goal was? Is the argument consistent or not? That's all that matters.
      • Second that! (Score:4, Interesting)

        by k98sven (324383) on Monday July 12, 2004 @02:33PM (#9678163) Journal
        Far, far too much of the current US debate is all about ad hominem attacks. It never seems to matter what anyone says anymore..

        It's all about "he's just out to sell his book/movie", "get attention" or "to further his/her career". Either that or it's about who they hung around with 30 years ago. Or who they've had sex with. Or if they've ever used drugs. Or how they used to feel differently, and therefore must be hypocrites.

        From following the so-called debate, you wouldn't think anyone ever said anything just because they actually believed in it. Or that it could actually be, that someone with personal faults could actually be right, and that a person with a spotless reputation could be wrong about something?

        It just makes me sick. And anyone thinks this posting is itself partisan in any way*, they need to seriously start thinking about what democracy is supposed to be about.

        * Not counting people who truly advocate totalitarian systems, of course
    • by fermion (181285) on Monday July 12, 2004 @02:15PM (#9677895) Homepage Journal
      For those of you who are young, or perhaps never watched PBS, you have no understanding of the cultural freedoms we used to enjoy. PBS was allowed this freedom because the hicks, red necks, and vengeful religious fanatics did not watch it. Even more amazing, in the best US traditions of freedom of speech and religion, these people tended to leave PBS alone.

      Then, one day, the fanatics and freaks got control of congress. They complained about money being spent on the PBS and said it was used to promote non-US values. They insisted that the US was a Christian country, which is news to the Jews and Muslims and Buddhist and Atheists and Taoists and you get the idea, and proceeded to gut the funding for PBS and used the money to increase funding to their personal religious projects.

      Now, for many, the fact that PBS no longer has cultural freedom is a small thing. One might think it means that a word can't be said, or a breast can't be shown, or certain political conversations cannot occur. Many would cheer the day when we no longer had to hear about Mrs. Slocombe's pussy. But, as someone that was, as we say, raised on TV, and particularly on PBS, I can tell you the change is chilling. PBS is one place for a kid stuck in the inner city to attain a wider culture, a sense that the world is more than the streets. I consider this good, but clearly many think inner city kids are just another brick on the wall, and need no more culture than what is needed to die in a the street or a war, or, perhaps, to slave away on an assembly line.

      Everyone was good until the pompous assholes starting imposing their beliefs on everyone.

    • by div_2n (525075)
      Of course, I could be wrong...

      Obviously. The very fact that they felt they had to bleep out anything indicates the problem. The Constitution doesn't say, "Freedom of speech unless it is a bad word."

      I can't speak for others, but I want to be the one to decide what is and isn't right for me instead of some jerk off (oops, is that censored?) that doesn't share the same beliefs as me.
  • by strictnein (318940) * <strictfoo-slashdot&yahoo,com> on Monday July 12, 2004 @01:51PM (#9677544) Homepage Journal
    Talk about a made up controversy. PBS is slowly dieing and now they're trying to get attention.

    With the excising of three not-so-little terms -- "s -- ," "f -- " and "blow job,"
    Ok, now I'm confused. They're censoring "Fuck", "Shit" and "Blow job". Are they saying that they had to remove these words because of he evil Bush government? Those words haven't been "allowed" for many years now. Really, this whole thing is absolute crap. "Chilling censorship" my ass.

    It's also really "surprising" that PBS doesn't like conservatives (who cut their funding again?). And that there's an article in the SF Chronicle about it (strange...). And, this might surprise you, a hollywood actor is also upset about this. This is really a new low for slashdot that'd they post such a ridiculously idiotic article.
    • by Rei (128717)
      The problem is enforcement. These things used to not be enforced significantly. The degree of enforcement has been enough to literally drive Howard Stern off the airwaves due to costs... it's no trivial thing. Now producers are afraid to even come close to offending the FCC.
    • by Motherfucking Shit (636021) on Monday July 12, 2004 @02:07PM (#9677786) Journal
      They're censoring "Fuck", "Shit" and "Blow job". Are they saying that they had to remove these words because of he evil Bush government? Those words haven't been "allowed" for many years now.
      I heard the word "fuck" on PBS programming several years ago. I don't recall the name of the show, it was some sort of documentary about homelessness or poverty. IIRC, they were interviewing a homeless guy about something when "fuck" slipped through.

      A couple of months ago, definitely post-Janet-Nipple, an episode of NYPD Blue used the word "bullshit." This was the hyped up episode which was supposedly going to feature a steamy love scene at the end, where they toned down the love scene, but didn't bother to edit out "bullshit."

      Bullshit is right. One quote from the article that gave me a hearty laugh:
      "As for the word 'f -- ,' " he said, "I stand with Vice President Cheney, who recently used the word on the Senate floor and who said sometimes you have to use it unapologetically because you feel better afterward."
    • by anim8 (109631) on Monday July 12, 2004 @02:11PM (#9677837)
      Clearly, you have not watched PBS for a very long time -- if ever.

      PBS programming has never been censored until now. Profanity and nudity were not uncommon in primetime. Frontline, POV and even NOVA would not censor the audio of interviewees. Now and then a BBC drama would have a nipple-peek. No longer.

      How long before political dissent is pursued with the same zeal? If Bush-Cheney prevail in November I would guess the answer is sometime in 2005.

      But what do you care? As long as you have your cable TV you're fat, dumb and happy, right?
      • by general_re (8883)
        Profanity and nudity were not uncommon in primetime. Frontline, POV and even NOVA would not censor the audio of interviewees.

        The difference is that those are news and documentary-type shows, whereas this is fiction, drama, acting, whatever. The FCC has always been easier on news and informational-type programming than in drama, but in any case "fuck" has never been permitted, your memory notwithstanding. This is not new, nor is it news - PBS and Dreyfuss are simply, cynically spinning this into it someh

    • In the article, they mention other shows, aired in the past on PBS, that did not feel the need to bleep colorful language. The implication is that the new & improved FCC policies can only be fought by large, well-financed corporations. PBS, a non-profit funded partially by the federal government, but primarily by private donors & corporate sponsors, does not have the spare cash to spend on FCC fines.

      Of course, the easy criticism is that the SF Gate leans a little left (true), PBS leans left (no

    • by Beardo the Bearded (321478) on Monday July 12, 2004 @02:14PM (#9677883)
      Not on PBS, they're not prohibited.

      That's the great thing about PBS. They don't censor themselves; they don't have to watch their fucking mouth. The reason you haven't seen swearing and nudity on private channels is because folks sue when they find nudity or profanity. No lawyer, no matter how slimy he is, is going to take the case of suing PBS. It's like suing Habitat for Humanity or the Salvation Army.

      On TV, we can show somebody having their fucking brains blown out and show the grey goop dripping off the wall. That's fine for kids to see. Yet somehow, it's not okay to say "blow job" and a naked person. I don't know about you, but I'd rather my daughter be more comfortable with nudity and be willing to talk about sex than have her be comfortable with ultra-violence. If you honestly think that violence is better than nudity, you have a serious flaw in your brain.

      As for the leftwards slant, I've got good karma and I'll not burn it on the likes of you.
  • by vingilot (218702) on Monday July 12, 2004 @01:54PM (#9677584)
    They wanted to say "Fuck"

    Hope that helps.

  • by idontgno (624372) on Monday July 12, 2004 @01:55PM (#9677608) Journal
    The upcoming Seasame Street episode brought to you by the letters "F" and "U", and the number "69".

    And you should hear Elmo go when you piss him off!

  • Temporary Power? (Score:3, Informative)

    by fermion (181285) on Monday July 12, 2004 @01:55PM (#9677610) Homepage Journal
    It is inescapably censorship under guidelines imposed after the fact by those who are in temporary political power

    Not if they can help it! The US presidential election, evidently, is optional [bbc.co.uk]

    • by furball (2853) on Monday July 12, 2004 @02:05PM (#9677742) Journal
      The problem is that if they don't plan then we'll just have a comission looking into why they don't plan it. These are emergency plans.

      As the article states, elections have been postponed in the past due to terrorist attacks. It's just never done at the federal level because there are no agencies that can do such a thing.

      We're talking about laws that'd have to be passed and such.
  • by nysus (162232) on Monday July 12, 2004 @01:55PM (#9677613)
    Yes, and everyone should read this eye-opening article, as well. Sorry, New York Times reg req'd: Antiwar Group Says Its Ad Is Rejected [nytimes.com]
    • Pay attention... (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Chibi Merrow (226057)
      See, here's the problem, Clear Channel can't censor anyone because they're NOT THE GOVERNMENT. Clear Channel can decide whoever the hell they want to do business with and under whatever terms they wish. The only thing this group has any valid argument on is breach of contract, not censorship, and even that's sketchy.

      If Clear Channel doesn't want to display an advertisement because they believe it will negatively affect their business, that's their decision. If they have a choice between listening to a few
      • by FreeUser (11483) on Monday July 12, 2004 @02:47PM (#9678403)
        See, here's the problem, Clear Channel can't censor anyone because they're NOT THE GOVERNMENT.

        Bullshit.

        You are defining censorship as a subset of itself: government censorship. There are numerous kinds of censorship, including a few that are appropriate (parental censorship being one) and many, many which are not, including political censorship (by anyone in a public role), corporate censorship of the public airways, and government censorship.

        Clear channel's actions certainly fall in the category of political censorship, which to virtuall all Americans of the non-neoconservative and a fair number of even that ever-more radical group, is considered unamerican. It also falls into the category of corporate censorship, which may be appropriate within the walls of a corporate office, but certainly is not appropriate when applied to the public airwaves.

        In this case we are dealing with politically motivated censorship of the public airwaves by a corporation in an effort to silence political dissent. This is an aggregious violation of American values and political tradition (kind of like the last stolen election, and like the quite possibly soon-to-be "postponed" ... probably into perpetuity ... next election), and offensive to anyone, of any political stripe, who holds any value for our constitutional rights above any one party's ideology of the moment. Indeed, it is no more appropriate to censor public political speech for "economic" reasons than it is to censor expression on PBS, or any other party, for right-wing religiously defined "moral" reasons.

        The fact that it is a private company violating and actively suppressing our freedom of speech (whether as a proxy for those currently in the government, or as a misguided private policy dictated by simple greed, or a toxic political agenda), rather than the government directly, is immaterial to the fact that our rights as a people have been suppressed, and political dialog silenced as a result.

        This is unamerican in the truest sense of the word, and should absolutely not be tolerated, much less touted as appropriate because one assumes the motiviation to be nothing more than banal greed.
  • by bhsx (458600) on Monday July 12, 2004 @01:56PM (#9677623)
    "The FCC chairman is going to ignore this particular problem until it swims up and bites you on the ass!"
    Thank you, thank you.
  • Since when is (Score:5, Insightful)

    by 3rdParty (719962) on Monday July 12, 2004 @01:56PM (#9677625)
    saying fuck and shit a moral imperitive? Didn't these people know the show was being made for TELEVISION, not movie theaters? Whining that you cannot swear on television in 2004 is kind of behind the game, isn't it? Since when has it been acceptable to say those words on broadcast television?

    I have no love for the current administration, but I also am aware that Mr Dreyfuss could probably pay these fines and call it the cost of doing business if he so chose. Since we have the freedom to bitch about our gov't in the US, he has every right to complain, but I don't think he is "in the right."
    • Re:Since when is (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Tenareth (17013)
      A couple points:

      1). That's the point... the rules have gotten so harsh now that people are going to start fighting it by going to the other end of the spectrum, it's the way you make a point...

      2). Richard wouldn't have to pay... as the law is right now, each seperate PBS station would have to pay if it aired it un-edited.

      3). PBS generally had a sort of "pass" when it came to the FCC, hence the reason they were able to air unedited version of Monty Python back in the 80's and 90's, including nudity and sw
    • Re:Since when is (Score:5, Insightful)

      by happyclam (564118) on Monday July 12, 2004 @02:39PM (#9678289)
      Since when has it been acceptable to say those words on broadcast television?

      Gotta agree with you there, but there is another phrase that was bleeped: blow job.

      Neither "blow" (which admittedly has four letters) nor "job" is inherently offensive in the same manner that the other two words are. Why, then, the bleep? Because the FCC determined that the IDEA of "blow job" is offensive. This is what is so "chilling" about this action.

      When a movie hits TV, usually "offensive" words are dubbed--"a--hole" becomes "jerk," etc. But what do you do with a phrase like "blow job"? You can't really find a euphamism for it because it's not the words that are offensive but rather the subject matter, the idea, the action it represents. You could dub it over and change it so the cops aren't talking about blow jobs but about something else... but that's censorship at its essence. Stop people from talking about something and force them to talk about something else.

      There's GOT to be a better way to "protect children". Maybe... don't let them watch the show? Or maybe this isn't really about protecting the children but rather about saving Americans' souls, or protecting the sensitive ears of fundamentalist Christians who never watch PBS anyway because it's a hotbed of liberalism?

  • "un-American" (Score:5, Insightful)

    by GillBates0 (664202) on Monday July 12, 2004 @01:57PM (#9677627) Homepage Journal
    Is it just me, or are the terms "all-American" and "un-American" beginning to sound hypocritical and hollow, mostly due to overuse by the beloved administration and media schills?

    That seems to be the trend nowadays - label anybody or anything who/which is anti-war, anti-administration or anti-corporation as "unAmerican" and get done with it. It's right up there with the "Axis of Evil" and "Freedom".

  • by krem81 (578167) <krem81@@@yahoo...com> on Monday July 12, 2004 @01:57PM (#9677630)
    A show that's broadcast over the air is being censored by its corporate distributor (in this case PBS) in order to avoid the imminent fines by the FCC (either that or to maintain its wholesome image), and somehow it's the fault of the big bad Bush administration? This has "publicity stunt" written all over it.
    • by happyclam (564118) on Monday July 12, 2004 @02:24PM (#9678040)
      A show that's broadcast over the air is being censored by its corporate distributor (in this case PBS) in order to avoid the imminent fines by the FCC (either that or to maintain its wholesome image), and somehow it's the fault of the big bad Bush administration? This has "publicity stunt" written all over it.

      This is a serious issue: The FCC is essentially defining moral standards for the country. While the FCC reports to Congress, the commissioners are appointed by the President, and the chair is also selected by the President. Thus, the FCC is largely an implementor of the President's policies while being subject to Congressional oversight.

      Either way, the five members of the FCC should not define moral codes for the entire country, deciding which words and ideas are fit for consumers and which are not.

      Yes, ideas: The words "blow" and "job" are not inherently offensive in the way that "f---" and "sh--" are. Why bleep them when combined, then? Because the idea is inherently offensive and immoral, according to the commission.

      This is a scary thought, that five people appointed by the President can essentially kill free speech through certain mass media for the five years they are in office.

      The next step of course is for the FCC to declare certain unpatriotic words as inappropriate and offensive, or non-Christian ideas as offensive. Honest broadcasters like PBS would be unable to air things that were out of favor with the current administration (yes, the Big Bad Bush administration) because they would not be able to pay the fines.

      Publicity stunt, or another battle in the war on free speech terrorists (oh, did I say that out loud)?

  • by riptide_dot (759229) on Monday July 12, 2004 @01:57PM (#9677644)
    I can't help but think of two very good quotes I've used in the past when arguing against censorship:

    Censorship, like charity, should begin at home: but unlike charity, it should end there. - Claire Booth Luce

    To limit the press is to insult a nation; to prohibit reading of certain books is to declare the inhabitants to be either fools or slaves. - Claude Adrien Helvetius

  • by Giant Ape Skeleton (638834) on Monday July 12, 2004 @01:59PM (#9677665) Homepage
    The Great Network TV Profanity Drought of 2004.

    Thank goodness for cable!

  • This is all Janet Jackson's fault. Thanks Miss Jackson, Janet cuz you not nasty, for ruining the show for all of us with the gratuitous display of your breast that no one really wanted to see in the first place. You, madam, touched off this mess, and it was so necessary. You provided fuel to the Christian right's fire, and for that, I'll....well.....I guess I'll never listen to Rhythm Nation again, so TAKE THAT you hussy!!!
  • Fictive Learning (Score:4, Insightful)

    by buckhead_buddy (186384) on Monday July 12, 2004 @02:00PM (#9677686)
    So Dick Cheyney's half-thought, irrational, emotional outburts are fine for public coverage yet the use of the same expletives for a well-considered, precisely-scripted, time-consumingly produced fictional presentation are NOT acceptable is absurd.

    Fiction is the ideal place to expose new ideas that aren't taught in school (profanity, sex, violence). Simply declaring that all bad words are "bleeped" and all nudity is blocked is doing a severe disservice to the (yes, real) humans watching television.
    • by DesScorp (410532) <.DesScorp. .at. .Gmail.com.> on Monday July 12, 2004 @02:08PM (#9677791) Homepage Journal
      Cheney's outburst was neither half-thought or irrational; Patrick Leahy has deserved that "fuck you" for a long time now. He's a dick, and I'm glad the veep did it.

      Emotional, yeah, sure.

      But it was NOT broadcast on television. As much as I admire Richard Dryfuss, he's full of shit. This isn't censorship. Thankfully, most people seem to be recognizing that, and are calling him on it.
  • Comedic (Score:3, Insightful)

    by mratitude (782540) on Monday July 12, 2004 @02:01PM (#9677688) Journal
    It isn't an accident that Richard Dreyfuss sounds so knowledgable on efforts to censor so-called free speech; Hollywood has had years of practise in generating social/political spin all the while most Hollywood types have the blood-spitting fits when confronted with views on which they disagree.

    Otherwise, this reads like a publicity stunt. No one watches PBS all that much.
  • by tetranz (446973) on Monday July 12, 2004 @02:04PM (#9677723)
    Why is that the BBC [bbc.co.uk] can get away with accurately reporting what the Vice President said on the Senate floor while american news sources had to keep us guessing with abbreviations?
  • by Deacon Jones (572246) on Monday July 12, 2004 @02:11PM (#9677843)
    Slightly off-topic, as I am saddened more by PBS seeking to go with modern trends than PBS not being able to use the F-word.

    Like many here, I spent my time with Sesame Street and Electric Company, and then of course Monty Python, Nova, Sagan's Cosmos, Dr. Who, and many more.

    These days Nova is like "Science For Dummies", and PBS has its own versions of Reality Shows. Thank god for Red Green reruns combined with British Comedy reruns. The occaisional Nature show is still allright, but its getting more and more where I can't tell where the music video stops and the science is supposed to begin. Even that miniseries on String Theory started out good and then petered out.

    Now we top it off with the need for "gritty" cop shows that use realistically foul language.

    To me the decline of PBS is a much more sad affair then whether or not the FCC will let them curse.

  • Who pays for this? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by sonsonete (473442) on Monday July 12, 2004 @02:11PM (#9677844) Homepage

    Let me get this straight:

    A government-funded station is currenctly experienceing a chilling effect because government regulations that have been in place for years prevent said government-funded station from broadcasting certain words over airwaves allocated to it by the government.

    Egads!

  • by Call Me Black Cloud (616282) on Monday July 12, 2004 @02:12PM (#9677855)

    No one is being oppressed, suppressed, whatever. The standards that dictate the bleeps have been in place for years. Dreyfuss knew this going into the project. What changed is the cost of breaking the standards, so he's complaining it's now too expensive for PBS to allow him to violate the standards. Perhaps he should have chosen a more appropriate venue for his work.

    Also, the article linked to was a columnist's take on it. I don't know if I'd consider it "reporting" as columnists tend to skew things according to their opinions.
  • by dancingmad (128588) on Monday July 12, 2004 @02:12PM (#9677856)
    I'm surprised at the caliber of comment on this article. Who watches PBS anymore? Why watch that old channel? I'm in college, I watch Dave Chappelle and Cartoon Network. But I also watch PBS: they show delightful British comedies (unfortunately our affliate has pulled Red Dwarf, Fawlty Towers, and Flying Circus now). Lehr's show is one of the best news programs on television.

    Not to mention that you slashdot people should enjoy PBS's science programs (as a child I lived and breathed their animal documentaries, and I still find the birds series a joy to watch) and perhaps their history (their documentaries on the Prophet Muhammed and Islam the last few years were great).

    If PBS is mad at conservatives, it should be. America had a chance to have something as brilliant and deep as the BBC. That NPR and PBS aren't is the fault of the conservatives who seem hell bent on funding idiots like Rupert Murdoch and their "news."
    • "If PBS is mad at conservatives, it should be"

      No they shouldn't. The reason conservatives are mad at PBS is because they've always treated the conservative part of the country and the values they hold with contempt. And lets face it; look who holds all three branches of goverment. Look at the Red areas vs. the Blue areas. Can you seriously tell me that conservatives are a minority of the population? I would argue that there are more people right of center in America than left. So why does it make sense to ignore and/or marginalize that population? That's what PBS has been doing with a liberal tinged, elitist view. And those conservative politicians, representing ALL THOSE CONSERVATIVE VOTERS, were supposed to do nothing about it? That PBS was suprised at all that this happened shows just how out of touch they are. That they've largely cried "oppresion" and "censorship" further shows they still don't get it.

      PBS has never had the support of Red america because of these attitudes. A PUBLIC network should be respresentative of the public as a whole. PBS is not.

      "America had a chance to have something as brilliant and deep as the BBC"

      God forbid.
      The Beeb is neither brilliant nor deep. They have a long history coddling tyrants (it was hard to find any criticism of Stalin on the BBC. They never fired much criticism at Saddam either), and have always been openly supportive of the Labor Party, but never waste an opportunity to stick it to the Tories. Again, with a publicly funded network, this is a recipe for hostility from a very large chunk of your hoped-for audience.

      During the Iraq war, Royal Navy ships more or less banned the BBC from their decks, because British sailors were tired of the unrelenting left-slanted news.

      "That NPR and PBS aren't is the fault of the conservatives who seem hell bent on funding idiots like Rupert Murdoch and their "news.""

      Again, you don't seem to understand. The reason why Fox News has become such a success (and Rush Limbaugh as well) is that Red states felt they didn't have an alternative to left-slanted news (and even Peter Jennings now admits most journalists are liberals). So when Fox came along, it took off like gangbusters. No conspiracy here, just pent up demand exploding on newly available supply.

      Look, PBS does have some quality, non-partisan shows. The science stuff is a good example. And those shows will now suffer from lack of audience because of competition from cable. But PBS has no one to blame but themselves for driving potential viewers to their cable competitors. Had they tried to be, ahem, fair and balanced, they might have a bigger audience and more public support. Instead, they've made dedicated enemies that want to wipe them out.

  • by Exmet Paff Daxx (535601) on Monday July 12, 2004 @02:26PM (#9678075) Homepage Journal
    That this entire story feels off-topic to me. I'm not trying to "troll" here, so hear me out.

    Slashdot is a technology site for nerds (upper left, "News for Nerds"). We've got this subsection "Your Rights Online". Ok. This story is not about technology, nerds, my rights online... it's about what Hollywood can do on television.

    You know what I have to say to Hollywood about censorship? Regime change begins at home. These are the same people who rallied in support of the movie industry to help pass the DMCA to limit the speech of computer programmers. Now they're upset that Christians have rallied in support of Bush to limit the speech of Hollywood. As ye sow, so shall ye reap.

    I read that Richard Drewfus quote and I can't help but think "political grandstanding", from the lips of a man whose screen guild dues ingarguably went to promoting a law which makes my encryption research banned speech.

    It's not right when anyone does it. Bah, humbug.
  • by wayward_son (146338) on Monday July 12, 2004 @02:37PM (#9678234)
    In 1994, Janet Reno went after violence in Cop Shows.

    Michael Moriarity told her what he thought about that in so many words, and was promptly fired from Law & Order.

    Democrats won't protect your freedoms. If you think the Bush Adminstration is bad, do you really think Gore/Lieberman (two major advocates of censorship) would have been any better?

"Probably the best operating system in the world is the [operating system] made for the PDP-11 by Bell Laboratories." - Ted Nelson, October 1977

Working...