Concerned Parents and the FCC

Grey's argument (see previous entry) is exactly the kind of argument that ought to be used, I think, against those "concerned" parents who keep sending complaints to the FCC in an attempt to decrease the amount of "indecent" or "offensive" material broadcasted.

Which is not to say that the material is not, or cannot be, offensive.

The deeper point, however, is that censoring such material is, in effect, the imposition of one group's values on everybody else, since it would then not be accessible to anyone who may wish to view it or listen to it. It is an outright violation of the principle of free speech.

Suppose that I find that Christianity and its teaching are indecent and offensive, and that I have very strong moral objections to it (which is not difficult at all, see here for instance). Does that mean that I have the right to preclude Christian people from having access to Christian television? Or that I have the right to preclude Christian producers from broadcasting whatever it is they want to broadcast to whoever wants to watch what they produce?

The answer is no. And the answer to 'why not' is that one simply cannot consistently advocate morality while imposing one's moral views on everyone else. This presents a logical contradiction, unless your idea of morality is that of shoving your views on everybody else. Morality is a matter of personal choice; it is a matter in which individuals must make choices for themselves. It is not a matter in which we make choices for others, however repugnant we may think their behavior/beliefs may be.

"Oh, but such broadcasting corrupts the minds of our children," some might object, since children are usually the last refuge of moral bigots. However, there is a great degree of truth in this point, and the minds of children do face an undeniable potential risk of corruption.

But, of course, this distracts us from the real question: whose responsibility is it to look after the children? It is certainly not mine, for I have not decided to have children and assume that awesome burden of responsibility. I am just responsible enough to prolong my irresponsibility. Who has made that decision, however? Who has decided to assume such responsibility?

Parents, that's who! And so, precisely because they are responsible for the fact that they have their children, it is incumbent on them to protect and look after them, not by attempting to force everyone else to conform to their arbitrary standards (and let's admit it, they are arbitrary), but by being active parents and actually monitoring, at home, what their children are exposed to.

Parents who are actually involved in their kids' lives know what the little rascals watch and what they don't because such parents are watching the stuff right there with them, and because they educate their children about what they do watch, even if they find it objectionable on occasion. It is only parents who neglect their children, or who are too busy to spend time with them, who try to convert public broadcasting into their own personal and free of charge day/night care center, who must find solace in the fact that their fascist dictatorial cronies are attempting to shove their "moral" objections to questionable broadcasting on the rest of us.
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