Re: Let Me Get This Straight . . .

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From: Brian Clapper (
Date: Mon May 14 2001 - 13:26:21 PDT

Jay Thomas ( writes:

> I just want my kids to grow up in a world where they're not bombarded
> with filth all day, every day. When you're watching "family" tv in the
> afternoon with your kids, and an ad comes on for an R rated movie that is
> so violent, my kid looks horrified, theres something wrong with our
> culture. I realize people have a right to advertise, but there is such a
> thing as an appropriate time/place. And if they won't police themselves,
> the gov needs to set limits for them. Not censorship, not forcing
> religion down anyones throat, just a bit of common courtesy.

It's these last two sentences, in particular, that send a chill down my

- Don't you realize how ultimately dangerous it is to give that sort of
  censorship or ratings power to the government? Haven't you read enough
  history to see how easily that kind of arrangement can be abused?

- Do you *really* believe that one set of standards or ratings will fit
  every situation?

- Whose standards would you have the government use to set these limits you
  advocate? Yours? The standards associated with "traditional American
  values?" (For extra credit, define "traditional American values.")

- And, anyway, why are you willing to permit bureaucrats and politicians to
  make decisions about what you and your children can see, read, or
  purchase? Wouldn't you rather reserve the right to set your own limits
  for your children, preserving your own control and flexibility, instead
  of relying on some third-party, over whose standards and rating systems
  you have less direct control? Or is the need to exercise such
  finely-granular *personal* control, and the amount of constant vigilance
  it requires of you, what really bothers you?

- I notice that your web site has lots of pictures of and references to
  various gatherings in which alcohol is consumed--consumed in front of
  children, I might add. I'm not saying that's wrong, but what if Congress
  decide that sort of thing is "inappropriate" and decides to modify these
  "limits" so that images of adults drinking beer are deemed inappropriate
  for viewing by children? (Perhaps Congress would do so as a result of
  several widely-publicized events where young children die after drinking
  beer at a party, because they were trying to emulate the adults they saw
  drinking. Throw in a few outraged celebrity spokespersons testifying
  before Congress, and it actually sounds a lot like any number of
  well-meaning but misguided "get the government to STOP THE MADNESS!"
  causes that are so prevalent today.)

  If that were to happen, would you blindly accept the new rules, and
  modify your web site -- or even curtail beer drinking in front of
  children? Or would you just be pissed off that some politicians had
  decided to grease the squeaky wheel, putting into place guidelines and
  limits that implicitly criticize and demonize behavior that you consider
  to be perfectly harmless -- and, more important, behavior that you
  consider to be well within your rights, as an American, to engage in?

You want to control how you introduce the world to your daughters. Fine.
That's your right and your obligation as a parent. I doubt most sane people
would argue that it's good to thrust the entire world at a child all at

But, I, too, have a daughter; I suspect that my hopes, dreams, fears, and
aspirations for her are every bit as lofty as yours are for your children.
And I cannot stomach the idea that someone else's standards of morality or
appropriateness will dictate what my wife and I can or cannot choose to
introduce into her world, as she grows up. As rational, thinking adults, we
prefer to make our own decisions. I sure as hell don't want you or the
government making them for me.

Brian Clapper,

The truth is, as everyone knows, that the great artists of the world are
never puritans, and seldom ever ordinarily respectable. No virtuous
man--that is, virtuous in the YMCA sense--has ever painted a picture worth
looking at, or written a symphony worth hearing, or a book worth reading,
and it is highly improbable that the thing has ever been done by a virtuous
        -- H.L. Mencken, Prejudices, 1919.

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