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Updates From The American Taliban

Michael Powell's authoritarian hardline on "decency" in the media, launched on the springboard of Janet Jackson's nipple, brought to the public's attention a rightwing movement of repression that does not yet seem to have crested. And the media's craven kowtowing to these fascistic diktats should equally have raised the public alarm.

"Famously, ER was forced to cut a shot of an accident victim's naked breast; The O.C. was instructed not to show a female character having an orgasm (though a male character's orgasm was allowed); an episode of That 70s Show featuring a scene in which a male character is caught masturbating (off-camera) was broadcast with a parental warning; and so, endlessly, on." [Guardian]
It is safe to say, that ad-hoc groupings of powerful rightwing bigots, many of them professing to be evangelical Christians, with enormous clout among Bush-appointed regulators and sleazy Congressmen, have become an American Taliban, deciding what you can see, what you can hear, even what you can do in your own home, based entirely on their own beliefs and motives, and without regard to your wants and needs. You don't get to have much say, if they get their way.

The following is from Lloyd Grove's Lowdown in the New York Daily News:

chorus_4"The Federal Communications Commission apparently has broadcasters so scared that radio stations that air "Broadway's Biggest Hits," a nationally syndicated weekly show, refused to air a satirical song from the 1975 Pulitzer Prize- and Tony Award-winning musical "A Chorus Line."

WFAS-AM in Hartsdale, along with a station in San Francisco, substituted a G-rated tune from "Bye Bye Birdie" for "A Chorus Line's" "Dance: Ten, Looks: Three," which contains a comical reference to surgical enhancements and the showbiz-hiring advantages of "T & A."

"Biggest Hits" producer Bud Wilkinson, whose show is carried on three dozen stations, told me yesterday he won't include such racy material in the future. "As a producer, I would love to, but as a businessperson, I'm caving, because my customers are concerned about being fined," he said. "And it just makes me want to vomit."

Fined or worse for playing a song from "A Chorus Line"? Are you serious? If that isn't just like an order the Taliban would give, then my name's not Jak. And then there's the case of the T-shirt:
"A couple returning home from a Costa Rican vacation was ejected from an American Airlines flight because the man was wearing a T-shirt depicting a bare breast. Oscar Arela and his girlfriend, Tala Tow, were removed from Flight 952 on Saturday after he refused to change the shirt or turn it inside out at Miami International Airport. The flight left 90 minutes late without them. The couple, making a connecting flight from Costa Rica, said nobody on the earlier flight objected to the shirt."
Don't Americans have any rights any more?

OK, so the media and airlines are public space, maybe that makes a difference. But what about stuff you do at home, that's private, yes? Not in Alabama it isn't. Not if you want to use a vibrator or any other sexual aid or toy. It doesn't matter that you are a consenting adult with or without other consenting adults. In Alabama the Taliban tell you what you can and can't do in bed.

By now you should have noticed that the American Taliban mimic their Islamic brothers in how they try to use public policy to solve their own sexual hangups. Neither have any problems with violence. By the time an American kid finishes school he will have seen scores of thousands of violent acts on TV and in the movies, along with 10,000 or so murders. But if the American Taliban have their way, he will never have seen a woman's breast and wojuld have no idea what to do if he did see one. This reversal of the concept of "family values" can perhaps be laughed at when we hear the screams over "wardrobe malfunctions"; but it can be deadly when such ill-informed "values" take over the education and health of our children.

In Texas, the state Board of Education is deciding on books for its sex-education curriculum. There are four books being considered,

"all of which extol the virtues of abstinence. Three make no mention of contraceptives at all while one makes passing reference to condoms ... [O]ne textbook under review advises that a good way a teen-ager can prevent a sexually transmitted disease is to get plenty of rest so he or she can have a clear head about sex."
This kind of arrogant stupidity will cost lives, for sure.
"The key thing here is that the textbooks do not contain a trace of information about family planning and prevention of sexually transmitted diseases other than through abstinence," said Dan Quinn, a spokesman for the Texas Freedom Network ... "There are other contraceptive methods in addition to abstinence and you are just not going to find it in these textbooks," Quinn said. He charged the textbook publishers have engaged in self-censorship to appease social conservatives in the state at the expense of the health of Texas teenagers."
In America, most important freedoms have disappeared over the last three years. Sure, you have the freedom to spend as much as you want on any one of fifty-three similar tubes of toothpaste, but don't you dare say anything out of line, or potentially odd. Especially in a public place, like an airplane. Sure you have the freedom to shoot anyone who comes near your private property, but don't even think of singing a racy show tune, or trying to make consensual sex more exciting with your spouse. Sure you have the right to write anything you want to anyone, but they have the right to read it too, and to lock you up without trial if they don't like what you wrote. And we haven't even touched upon the repression of homosexuals, the noose tightening around womens' rights to choose their own medical care, and the elimination of auditable election results.

Life will certainly be softer under the American Taliban than it was under the Afghani original. But it will be no less intimidating.

August 5, 2004 in Bush Administration, Government Intrusion, Right wing | Permalink


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