Social Puritans On Parade

I don't think that Bush's presidency is a sign of the end-times, but it's hard to deny that it has empowered social conservatives to actions they never would have considered before, or at least not been so open about being involved with. Witness the Parents Television Council, which is responsible for almost every single complaint filed to the FCC. Their motto is "Because Our Children Are Watching"—as if the goal of our media should be to provide everyone with the same extremely low level of entertainment. I'd be content if their goal were simply to provide a guide to concerned parents, but their real goal is to use the heavy hand of the FCC to dumb down entertainment so that it doesn't offend Fundamentalist Christian sensibilities. Well hey guys, Sesame Street doesn't really cut it for me anymore. I'm a fucking adult. I like shows and movies with adult themes because my days aren't brought to me by the number 7 anymore. (I would love if it someone faithfully adapted Genesis 34 for the big screen, by the way.)

This is but one example. The one that caught my eye and got me incensed (today anyway) was this one via Reason. The story is that two complaints were filed about statues on the property of a yard art company. These statues were copies of famous works such as the Venus de Milo and Michelangelo's David.

Not too long ago, during the Clinton years I find myself longing for a little more every day, these complaints would have been laughed at. After all, the history of Western art is full of nudes, and these nudes are some of our best examples of good art; the two pieces in question are the classic pieces of sculpture. Now, the climate supported by the theoconservatives in power leads to action really being taken by local officials: the company has been ordered to move the statues out of view.

The cry about protecting the children (used and abused by authoritarians of all factions) really needs to be called out when it happens. Moving the Venus de Milo out of view protects nobody. Hey guys, we all have bodies, there's no getting around it. There's no need to be ashamed of them. As skilful (and non-sexual) a rendering in stone as David is ought to be appreciated, not feared.

The Greeks and Romans weren't so ashamed of nudity. These were the foundations of Western civilization, and it was overambitious militarism that brought them down, not indecency. There is a case to be made about moral decay in our culture today, but I'd argue it's more related to the desire to control everything than a lack of disgust at classic art.

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Life imitates art I'm sure

Life imitates art
I'm sure I'm not alone in being reminded of an old episode of The Simpsons called Itchy and Scratchy and Marge, in which Marge is horrified when Maggie imitates the violence she sees on television.

When I was growing up out in

When I was growing up out in the Midwest, I remember a replica of Michelangelo’s David in a park. It had been turned so that it didn't face the nearby street. I think the excuse was that it would distract drivers. Signs cluttering up the view in every direction weren't a problem, but a replica of a famous statue, a few dozen feet from the road in a park would. :wall:

Look, I know the answer to

Look, I know the answer to the argument perfectly well. It's not difficult for me at all. The problem is that it doesn't sink in with most people. I myself think that what you said is quite obvious: that there is no way to shield your kids from everything, that they will encounter ideas, viewpoints, and material you don't like, and that it's not everyone else's responsibility to arrange everything in society to your liking so that your kids never run into anything you don't want them exposed to. And yet, people call on the government over and over and over again to help them accomplish just that. We need the FCC to regulate TV to make sure it's decent. We need the FCC to regulate radio to make sure it's decent. We need to expand the FCC's jurisdiction to cable because there's so much smut on it that nobody's regulating. We need obscenity laws. We need laws censoring and controlling the internet because there's porn on it. We need warning labels on movies and video games, and laws to control kids buying them. And on and on and on. The "pathetic excuse for an argument" keeps government agencies going supported by millions of dollars in taxes to enforce "decency" because parents believe they can't do it. I know the argument. It just seems to get us exactly nowhere. That's the thing I was trying to say, which apparently came across just sounding idiot. Sorry.

Anyone else notice the

Anyone else notice the National Review analogizing the growth of atheism as a precursor of Nazi-like times? :dizzy:

Lisa, That argument is


That argument is easily answerable; I'm puzzled as to why this is so difficult for you. How about: your desire to shield your little angels from that which you find offensive does not trump my freedom to show my kids whatever I want. If you want to shield your kids from what my kids see and may repeat, then it is your responsibility to keep your kids away from mine. Does that work? Taken to its logical extreme, that argument is pure idiocy. Let's say a certain parent found the color red offensive, and wished to shield their children from all instances of red in society. So, what, are they justified in petitioning the government to outlaw red? Should the TV networks cave into their complaints and take the red color band out of the signal? As I said, complete idiocy. I find it pretty sad that you haven't found an answer to that pathetic excuse for an argument.

Joe Miller also brings up an interesting point in the last paragraph of his post above. Shielding kids from everything is a surefire way to fuck them up royally. Yet, somehow, this argument is unanswerable? Pffft. There's a vast difference between accounting for externalities, and bending the entire world to conform to your own precious sensibilities. Seriously, if you want to totally control what your kids see and hear, then lock 'em in the closet for their entire life and only feed them the information you approve of. See how great they turn out!

I know it's preaching to the

I know it's preaching to the choir here (religious pun notwithstanding), but this is why I never take the "conservatives" at their word when they claim to be the small-government and state's rights party.

One of the left-leaning blogs I read, B after the fact, brings up the point that States' Rights are a tool of the losing party. I think it doesn't necessarily apply to libertarians, but then again, it's not like we've won any elections that I know of.

Leave Sesame Street out of

Leave Sesame Street out of this. At least it's somewhat intelligent and entertaining. No: what these people want is everyone watching crap like Barney.

Don't you love it when

Don't you love it when _Simpson's_ parodies actually come true?

Lisa, My job as a parent


My job as a parent isn't to protect my son from everything that I think might be bad. My job is to prepare him to make his own decisions in a responsible way. In other words, I'm to help him to become a fully rational, autonomous adult. Part of doing that is exposing him to different points of view. Some of those are things that I don't particularly like.

But nothing that I can do will actually make those things that I don't like go away entirely. I can shelter him from guns and boobs, but they will still exist. It's much better if he knows that while he's still young enough for me to have some inflence on him than if he discovers such things when he's 18 and finally goes off to college.

Show me some evidence that highly sheltered children are better able to cope with the world than are children who are exposed to all sorts of "moral decay" and I'll take the social conservative argument more seriously. But I think that there's a reason that preacher's kids have a reputation for being the biggest hellions around.

I read an article in Time

I read an article in Time magazine about the whole FCC and indecency thing. There was a quote from a parent who was in favor of censorship that I thought was pretty enlightening. He said something to the effect that, yes, you can control what your kids watch. The problem is that other kids watch this stuff and then go to school or other places and tell your kid about it. He said it was "like dumping toxic waste on the playground." I think a lot of conservatives know that they do have a cretain amount of control over what their kids watch. But to them, that's just not enough. That's why the PTC won't be happy just being a guide for concerned parents, like you said. In their view, that doesn't cut it. You can't protect your kids unless you can control how everyone else is raising theirs. That's an argument I have yet to come up with a good answer to.

Apparently the priest in

Apparently the priest in charge of caring for Polish pilgrims to the Vatican under JPII's reign was a communist spy:

Hejmo is very popular among Polish pilgrims...

Not anymore! :twisted:

"There is a case to be made

"There is a case to be made about moral decay in our culture today, but I’d argue it’s more related to the desire to control everything than a lack of disgust at classic art."

Yeah, I get into the same discussion. I rant about this "moral decay" and then all the social conservatives agree with me. Then I tell them I consider it "moral decay" to not allow the things they think are "moral decay." I don't get invited to their parties after that.

"And Thea wondered why I lumped the religious in with communists"

Precisely. :)

And Thea wondered why I

And Thea wondered why I lumped the religious in with communists. :furious: