Object Lessons: Rantings of a Lone Pamphleteer
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Is the government the arbiter of good taste?

A recent NY Times article details the hard line new FCC chief Kevin J. Martin is taking on indencency. Now, the FCC and Republicans in congress are trying to dictate decency standards on pay-tv channels. In a letter sent to L. Brent Bozell, president of the Parents Television Council, Martin states:

"Certainly broadcasters and cable operators have significant First Amendment rights, but these rights are not without boundaries," he wrote. "They are limited by law. They also should be limited by good taste."

Since when does the government have the right to dictate American "taste?" It's as outlandish as a government agency setting literary cannons.

Film, television shows, even commercials are more art than information. The government has no right to attempt to dictate good taste. Good taste, like capitalism, is weeded out in the marketplace. Certainly the FCC has no right to tell the viewing public what they can bring into their homes on their own dime.

Martin is right, however, in that the broadcasters have constitutional protections. Is he forgetting that individuals do too?

What worries me most is that it doesn't take long for Americans to lose a few rights, it takes years to get them back.

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