Blogs > Liberty and Power > WHEN "TROUBLE" STRIKES...

Feb 6, 2004 8:16 pm


Americans now seem automatically to turn to the government, and say:"Help us, please!" I think it is fair to say that this is not a development that would bring delight to the founding fathers, or to the other rebels of the Revolutionary Era, who distrusted government more than any other human institution.

Yet, today this is the common response:

Upset television viewers have filed more than 200,000 complaints about Janet Jackson's breast-baring performance at the Super Bowl, a record for the Federal Communication Commission, officials said on Friday.

Gripes over the flash of Jackson's breast last Sunday easily eclipsed the FCC's previous record -- 80,000 complaints that came after television actress Nicole Richie used a curse word on the 2003 Billboard Music Awards, the agency said.

"The vast majority express outrage that this occurred during a family program, when many children were in the viewing audience," FCC consumer and information chief K. Dane Snowden said in a statement.

The furor was touched off when pop star Justin Timberlake tore off part of Jackson's black leather bustier while the two were singing a duet, exposing her right breast.

The halftime show was carried by Viacom unit CBS and staged by sister network MTV. It has intensified calls for the government to take a tougher stance on indecency.

FCC Chairman Michael Powell has vowed a thorough investigation of the incident, calling it a" classless, crass and deplorable stunt."

The Parents Television Council, a non-profit watchdog group, said it also has been receiving complaints at a record pace, more than 24,000 so far."We are getting them like crazy," said spokeswoman Katie Wright.

One might have thought that adults, including parents, had more than enough weapons at their disposal already: changing the channel, complaining to the network that carried the program, complaining to advertisers that sponsored the program, and even -- just imagine! -- simply talking with their children, and discussing what it might all mean. And in that way, parents could certainly communicate whatever they felt needed to be said about nudity, sex, and any other subject under the sun.

Once again, I have to point out (as I just did here) that this insanity is the direct result of the dangerous fiction of"public ownership" of the airwaves, the history and meaning of which I discussed at some length here. In that same post, I talked about how even certain people widely regarded as"libertarians" also now turn to the government for solutions to problems such as these. Business, and especially"big business," is not to be trusted -- but somehow Washington bureaucrats are supposed to be paragons of virtue. (I must point out that"big business" today is one of the greatest beneficiaries of the New Fascism, the domestic component of which I discussed in detail here. But if one had to choose which represents the greater evil, I don't think there is much question that government does -- simply because government maintains a monopoly on the legal use of force, by means of which it can make everyone else do its bidding, while wielding a panoply of fearsome weapons.)

If it demonstrates anything at all, surely history proves conclusively that it is politicians and government bureaucrats who, above all others, are subject to political pressures, cronyism, and corruption. But one would hardly know it from the eagerness with which even alleged proponents of limited government today appear to regard the government as the court of final appeal, and the place from which ultimate wisdom will flow.

One wonders exactly what world people are living in, or have been living in, for lo these many years.

(Cross-posted at The Light of Reason.)

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