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April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review March 11, 2005 / 30 Adar I, 5765

Don't These People Have Better Things to Do?

By James Lileks


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http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Short version of this column: If the Republicans wish to lose their majority, they can expend great amounts of energy to outlaw soft-core skin flicks on cable TV.

Long version: Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Ted Stevens, R-Alaska, has announced his intention to regulate decency on cable, much like the Federal Communications Commission levies multigazillion fines on infantile potty-talk shock jocks. "Cable is a much greater violator in the indecency area," Stevens recently told the National Association of Broadcasters. "I think we have the same power to deal with cable as over-the-air" broadcasters.

Do tell. One can argue that the government has the right to regulate decency over the public airwaves because they are, well, public. The Native Americans sold them to Marconi in 1684 for $24 or something like that. In any case, we lend them to gigantic congealed media conglomerates so they can broadcast drivel and dross in exchange for a few billion dollars in revenue. All we ask is that they don't drop the effenheimer too often, or unfurl a starlet's naughty bits during the family hour.

Voluntary constraint isn't working very well, alas. As you've probably noticed, standards for nearly everything seem to have degraded.

Consider a recent cover story in the alternative weekly New York Press that had fun finding "The 52 Funniest Things About the Upcoming Death of the Pope." None were particularly amusing if you have a few residual atoms of human compassion left. To some, it was a clever, nasty response to the oppression the pope has visited on the denizens of Manhattan. Why, remember the day he waded into a leather bar and smote the sinners with his miter? He had that New York Press story coming, man.

Was the story indecent? Yes. So apparently the government has the right to regulate it: Light passed through the public air, reflected off the page and struck the photoreceptors of individual citizens. The newspapers were distributed in racks that sat on public sidewalks. Ergo, the government can, nay, MUST do something about this puerile article and the snarkier-than-thou fools who wrote it.

Right? Of course not. But such a reaction isn't unthinkable anymore.

If the new censors were concerned only with the public airwaves, they might get an amen from those tired of the banal and adolescent crudity of modern media. If their crusade means fines for radio shows that run contests rewarding people for having sex in churches, as happened with the infamous Sam Adams beer promotion a few years ago, well, this does not mean the First Amendment has been run through the shredder. We can all agree that a certain amount of decorum is desirable in the public sphere, so we will be spared from explaining to our children what those people are doing up on that Calvin Klein billboard. ("It's a special dance people do when they've, ah, lost their underwear, dear.")

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But the more the anti-indecency crusade rolls on, the more it seems obvious that some are motivated by a bluenosed fear that somewhere in Omaha, an insomniac bachelor is watching "Erotic Claymation Festival" on Skinemax.

Anyone with premium cable channels knows that some programs feature content that would not be appropriate for children. But these programs — often called "movies," in the modern slang — have already been revealed to the public in large gathering places called "multiplexes" where adults collect under cover of darkness to observe the alluring shadows projected on the wall. In short, if they can regulate cable simply because they think they should, then they can regulate anything.

Will they arrest Howard Stern for broadcasting from a satellite parked over U.S. waters? No. But it would be nice if Congress spent less time worrying about dirty cable TV and more time worrying about who might be coming over the border with dirty nukes. You might also wonder why a guy from Alaska is trying to clean up cable TV. It's cold and dark up there.

"Alaskan senator demands slightly naughtier late-night claymation until days lengthen." That headline makes sense. Providing we've won the war and solved the problems of Social Security and Medicare, and have more time for the really important issues.

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JWR contributor James Lileks is a columnist for the Minneapolis Star Tribune. Comment by clicking here.

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© 2005, James Lileks