Re: Let Me Get This Straight . . .

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From: Jay Thomas (
Date: Tue May 15 2001 - 18:29:19 PDT

Ian Andrew Bell wrote:
> On 5/14/01 7:07 PM, "Jay Thomas" <> wrote:
> > Nicely done. And you avoided answering my questions, too. Okay, let me
> > try this again...
> OK.. Since you still haven't given me anything to contest, let me make your
> arguments for you and then refute them:
> Jay: "The State has a responsibility to legislate proper modes of conduct
> and practise in the media in order to safeguard the innocence of our
> children."

I didn't say the state had a responsibility, in this case. I said "I
would like it if...", my premise was that, even when watching, what I
consider age-apropriate material with my daughter, in the afternoon, ads
for non age-apropriate material come on, exposing her to things I would
not choose, before I have time to change the channel. And when I say
"age-apropriate, it is IMO.

> OK. Your assumptions here are that:
> A) You as a parent are in full alignment with The State's view of what is
> morally reprehensible or culturally apropos


> B) The State's policies regarding censorship (sorry, I couldn't find a
> sugar-coated word with the same meaning) are clear, consistent, and
> inflexible (ie. Not subject to human subjectivity)


> C) You are just like everyone else in the United States (270M+ people)

Goodlord, no.

> A question (also known as your escape path): Would you rely on the state
> solely as the arbiter of good taste in your family's consumption of media or
> would you merely use it as a guideline/augmentation to your own? How would
> you balance that?

Thank you for the escape path :-) No, I would not rely on it. I would
use something they set up, such as ratings, as a guideline. I try to
always monitor what my children see, as they are still to young to
handle a lot of what is on. There are things my wife and I watch that
they are not ready for, we just wait till after their bed time.

> Bear in mind that State Education boards have banned Thomas Hardy's "Jude
> The Obscure" because it features the murder/suicide of a small child and his
> siblings and Shakespeare's "Taming of the Shrew" because of its bawdiness
> and lewness. Is the world better without these works or worse?

Which I totally disagree with. That is not what I was suggesting.

> My problems are fourfold:
> 1) I don't trust bureaucrats and elected officials to determine what
> information flows to my children. They've had the benefit of my
> patience on gun laws, tobacco laws, drug laws, telecommunications,
> etc. and have shown themselves to me eminently corruptible and
> morally bankrupt. At the very least TV networks must conform to the
> somewhat self-governing inhibitions imposed by the quest for the
> almighty dollar.

Nor do I. On this point you and I are in agreement, except for the fact
that I am not as patient or tolerant of their handling of the above
mentioned laws.

> 2) If I was able to trust some overarching policy that existed at a given
> point in time, I have no doubt that it would change in both its scope
> and the nature of its enforcement.

Possibly true, they usually do change. Bureaucracies always grow.

> 3) I have to recognize that I am fairly unique among the residents of the
> United States. My views on what's good and bad will definitively not
> be the same as those of an impoverished urban black family or a new
> immigrant family from Bangladesh.

That I'm not so sure about. I don't know you or what your ideas of
"good" and "bad" are, but aren't there some safe assumptions? Namely,
even the poor urban family and the Bangladeshi would agree stealing is
wrong (especially if they are the victim), or or murder is wrong? Some
ideas of right and wrong exist across most cultures.

> 4) The dangers of attempting to baseline the entire population's moral
> composition is simply impracticable.

I wouldn't say "dangers", but yes, very difficult. As I said before
(many times) these are my ideas of improvements on society. As I do not
make the rules, and it takes a whole lot of folks who believe like me,
to get anything changed, it's not like it's even possible, let alone
practical. I was just spouting.

> If, as you identify, the problem is influences corrupting our youth and
> turning them into Marilyn Manson-loving trenchcoat-wearing gay-bashing
> BMW-driving psychopathic WWF fans then there is an inherent inefficiency to
> your solution.

That plays a part in it. To hear media types say that media doesn't
influence children, is laughable, when they turn around and spend
billions marketing shows and products to them every day. If there is no
effect and they know it, thats a huge waste of money. However, outside
influences like TV/movies/games/music are just a part of it. I've
watched/played/listened to all the same stuff and never shot up my

> You're polishing the brass on the Titanic but the ship is still sinking.
> You're attacking the symptom rather than the problem, and it's not even
> clear that you can do so effectively.
> The clear root of the problem is that the art of parenthood is dying.

Very good point.

> One cause:
> More women are developing careers than ever before. However, these
> women still do not receive equitable pay for the same work, and their
> careers are limited (statistically proven) by their gender. In order
> to preserve the same standard of living, men therefore do not have
> the option to stay at home to raise children since they remain the
> primary bread winners. The result is that many children spend a vast
> amount of time in the hands of minimum-wage-earning daycare workers,
> and that these people effectively become the primary care givers for
> that child.
> Just one example.

And a very good one.

> While my licensing of parenthood notion is largely satire, at least if you
> were to license parenting you could baseline common assets for parenthood,
> such as family income, household stability, spousal relationship solidity,
> etc. Other countries have done this successfully in various forms.
> -Ian.

Talk about a difficult proposition, and then you have government
involved again. I don't want them deciding whether or not I can own a
gun, I sure don't want them telling me whether or not I can procreate.


"You see, in this world there's two kinds of people, my friend: Those 
with loaded guns and those who dig. You dig"
-Clint Eastwood, "The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly" 1967

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