Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Have we all lost our minds?

A guy who was named the best sports broadcaster in North Carolina a few years ago lost his job after a technical snafu resulted in the airing of an outtake during which he uttered the dreaded s-word. Eleven years as the station's sports director, and that's it for him, getting caught saying a word probably 99 percent of people over age 10 have used at least once in their lives.

This comes amid news that PBS stations have taken to pixellating the mouths of certain documentary subjects who use words that might offend the ears of FCC regulators who are threatening fines in the hundreds of thousands of dollars for a single slip -- fines that could bankrupt small PBS stations.

With all the obscene things going on in the world right now -- and do I really have to go into detail about Iraq, Afghanistan, the Middle East, Guantanamo, domestic and global poverty, etc., to make the point? -- and with the widespread availablility of any kind of offensive words and images you might crave, this witch-hunt against every instance of a banal scatalogical reference hitting the airwaves strikes me as insane. It's endemic of our utter failure as a people to prioritize our moral outrages.

Meanwhile, bloody images of murder, rape, incest -- all the worst things you can imagine -- pour out over the major networks during prime time police shows each night, without so much as an apparent second look from the government, as long as nobody says the word "shit." This imagery is rampant and apparently widely accepted as less harmful than a glimpse of a woman's breast, as long as it's fictional and not, say, bloody images from the actual killings and maimings that are taking place in our real, live wars.

Somebody needs to push the reset button on our national sense of right and wrong, so we can get a grip on reality and focus our energies on the most significant, most dangerous challenges we face instead of destroying careers over a single slip of a syllable.

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