Saturday, August 13, 2005

Sen. George Allen: Enemy of Freedom?

A brief restatement of MovieBob's position on censorship and/or federal regulations of television, print, radio, film or art: All federal ratings, controls, limits or penalties for expression are unconstitutional and a direct abridgement of the freedoms of American citizens. As the Constitution and Bill of Rights garauntee to all citizens the freedom of expression, any attempt to abridge such at the federal level is in fact an attack on freedoms and thusly it is wholly appropriate to refer to any member of the government who would openly support such abridgement as, thusly, enemies of freedom.

However, use of the term "enemy of freedom" here exclusively refers to a given government representative's status as a (percieved) enemy of a specific constitutional freedom, and is in no way meant to imply that said representative is in any way traitorous or disloyal to his or her office, nation or otherwise.


Now, with that out of the way...


Seriously, people. If we value our freedoms, especially our freedoms of expression, (and if you don't, why are you reading a movie blog?,) we need to stay on top of things like this. Remember: NEITHER of the two leading political parties in this country are "officially" standing against federal censorship. The Republicans, despite their supposed deferrence to limited government and free enterprise, are basically pro-censorship right now because attacking "indecency" plays well to the so-called "religious right." Likewise, the Democrats are generally for it as well despite their supposed defference to the artistic community because, y'know, they're Democrats and thus generally think the government should be in charge of as much as humanly possible, anyhow. (Yes, I know it's a generalization. They're political parties. Generalization is what they are about.)

In other words, you cannot count on either end of the political spectrum to do the right thing here. The only way we avoid creeping censorship is to continually remind these representatives who work FOR US that we do not want them involved in this.

Which is why, when a news story like this makes it to my radar (courtesy of the ever-reliable CATO Institute) I consider it just good civics on my part to pass it along to you:

The jist of this editorial is that Senator George Allen (R-Virginia) has introduced a Bill in the United States Senate which would require that the federal government approve any ratings system developed for television. In other words, if this Bill was to pass, the government rather than the producers of television programs, the owners of broadcast networks or the audience of consumers, would be the final arbiters of how any ratings system would work.

This is such an outright affront to our Constitution that I can scarcely describe my indignation. Fortunately, CATO's executive VP David Boaz echoes my thoughts accordingly:

"For years, Republicans argued that the Democratic majority in Congress was intruding the federal government into more and more matters best left to the states, the local communities, or the private sector. After 10 years in power, however, the Republicans have seen the Democrats' intrusiveness and raised them."

And he's only getting started...

"They believe that their every passing thought is a proper subject for federal legislation. They hold three-ring-circus hearings on steroids in baseball. They sharply increase the fines for alleged indecency on television. They hold hearings on whether college textbooks are too expensive. They threaten to punish Major League Baseball if the owners allow left-wing billionaire George Soros to be a part owner of the new team in Washington. They vote for a federal investigation of the video game "Grand Theft Auto."

And to those of you who don't think a little federal nudging here and there is the beginning of the end, or even BELIEVE the lies of the anti-freedom lobby about obscenity and violent materials "causing" real life evils and WANT Big Brother to help you tell everyone how to live, Boaz has an answer for you:

"That's why we write a Constitution -- to protect us from our own temptations to turn our exasperation into laws, and to protect us from our fellow citizens yielding to the same temptation."


Some may think it extreme to put Senator Allen's name in the title of this posting, as he's obviously only a small part of the problem, but in the end he did introduce the Bill. Introducing Bills, after all, is the right of an elected member of the Senate.

And, likewise, voicing displeasure at the introduction of a Bill is the right of YOU. So here's where you can send an email to Senator George Allen, letting him know what you think about the federal government regulating TV ratings or ANY kind of ratings, for that matter. Keep it civil, be polite, but make your voice heard: