Re: Let Me Get This Straight . . .

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From: Ian Andrew Bell (
Date: Tue May 15 2001 - 13:06:02 PDT

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

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)

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?

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?

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

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.

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.

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.

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.


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