Monday, May 23, 2005

Pilate the media mogul

National Review Online has this piece about an inappropriate topic of conversation on a morning talk show in DC. Seems the host decided to run an informal contest to find the listener who'd had the most abortions (half the callers were men... I guess for some it counts as "having an abortion" if you knocked someone up and made her go through it). The host then laughed and joked his way through the segment. I mean, shucks, I sure find it hilarious to poke fun at broken lives and dead babies. What a hoot.

NRO takes issue with the FCC's skewed definition of obscenity -- and rightly so. Far too much valueless speech is protected under the First Amendment. It seems like a lot of morning shows set out to be offensive. Like, if you're not offensive enough, people won't listen to you. And unfortunately, they're probably right. This morning I was listening to a local DJ/morning show host who proclaimed that he didn't care if everyone hated him, as long as they tuned in to his show. And while it makes sense for radio stations to be concerned about the bottom line (i.e., high listenership to attract high advertising revenues), there's something horrifically mercenary and amoral about standing back, hands up, and saying "hey, I'm just giving the people what they want." As though they can somehow avoid moral culpability by refusing to intervene where they have the power to intervene. I don't believe that's ultimately true. I certainly hope it isn't. And I wish the government would recognize that it isn't.

We're fortunate to live in a society where we have the luxury of worrying about the all-important decisions that make the difference between being rich and being richer. But that's the short-sighted view. Freedom can't be supported without a baseline of fundamental human dignity, decency, and respect. Hopefully we'll remember that before we're left with a huge mess to clean up.

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2 Comments:

At May 24, 2005 at 9:51 AM, Blogger Gus said...

Ahh, good old Elliot in the Morning. I read ``inappropriate topic" and ``morning talk show in DC" and knew immediately it was him. This used to be one of the DJs that necessarily kept me through my morning commute when I worked at the Naval Research Lab. (It's garbage radio, no question, but one of the few stations I could hear all the way along the drive.) He's DC101's (the radio statio he's on) attempt to create a new Howard Stern (recall, Stern started at DC101, too).

I'll never forget the morning that he decided to run a contest -- the firts person to put one of the radio station's t-shirts on a statue at the Korean War Memorial, and get a picture of it, would get free concert tickets. Within seconds veterans were calling in with death threats. Or the time that the station's GM called him, said ``you'd better not be playing this on the air", and proceeded to explain that he would be fired if he ever did whatever last stunt he pulled again. Of course, this was put on the air; and the GM was made to look like an ass and to make concessions that he probably meant to be made in confidence.

It's good to know that some things never change; even if you know that one day the earth will rupture and swallow DC up whole as a result of such things.

--Gus

 
At May 24, 2005 at 10:52 AM, Blogger The Law Fairy said...

Ha! And people think California will be the first to go. LA has DC beat, any day (and not JUST because I'm moving there) :)

 

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