When did everyone get so goddamn
intolerant? And helpless?
Perhaps it's because I come from hearty German stock and I actively cultivate my own sense of sarcasm, but I'm generally not offended by things I consider to be part of daily life - things like nudity, profanity, brutal honesty, sexuality... or rock 'n' roll for that matter.
Not to say I'm never offended. Believe you me, I am. Especially by things I consider to be part of daily life - things like ignorance, blind adherence to religious doctrine, inability to operate a motor vehicle, incapacity for compassion or original thought, random pluralization of words and titles that are clearly meant to be singular, screaming children in public places, sub-par restaurant food....ahhh, but I digress.
On NPR today, they had an interview with Paula Kerger
, the president and CEO of PBS, about "decency" as defined by the FCC and the role of public television vis-a-vis the public. At one point, a caller asked why all the hubbub of late. He related his memories of watching PBS in his youth and witnessing all manner of "racy" programming - tits, ass, the whole shebang - and still managing to turn out alright.
Kerger said that in all actuality, the recent onslaught of conservative scrutiny was precipitated by Janet Jackson's unfortunate *wardrobe malfunction* and the public outrage that ensued.
Sad but true. I used to work for a PBS station, two at various times actually, and I have endured my share of angry callers (mostly stay-at-home moms, incidentally, who apparently use the television as a full-time babysitter while they tend to their household chores or eat bon bons or whatever).
One incident sticks out in my mind from my years in the public television trenches - one that still makes me question whether we deserve our opposable thumbs when I recall the details. We aired a children's program every day called Postcards from Buster
featuring an animated rabbit that toured the country, dropping in to say hello to real boys and girls and families and to learn about their neck of the woods.
On one of his escapades, Buster traveled to Vermont where he met some nice folks who made maple sugar for a living in a rather idyllic rural community. Well, (note: please quit reading here if you are easily offended - this subject matter may not be suitable for all readers
) one of the homes Buster visited was run by not one, but two, mommies...well, one "mom" and then "Gillian."
When word got out around the playground that millions, nay billions, of innocent children could soon be assaulted by this despicable imagery and infected with these CRAZY ideas about how to live and who parents are supposed to be, I tell you, all hell broke loose. The reasons behind the indignation of so many of our callers generally fell along these lines:
"PBS is supposed to be wholesome
programming - something I can trust - something I can just turn on and not worry
"PBS is partially funded by my
tax donors and I don't condone this sort of material on my
"PBS is a tool of the liberal left and, as such, is plotting to overtake the (public) airwaves with extreme, leftist propaganda."
"If people want to live their lives like that
, well fine, but don't broadcast it over all our televisions for all the world to see."
And on and on it went....for days. Maybe even weeks.
Beyond the obvious conclusion at which one might arrive - that this all amounts to thinly veiled bigotry - there are some questions I haven't been able to answer. Do people have no choice in what they do or what they watch on the television? Are they unable to turn programming that they find disturbing or offensive off
? Do they perchance talk
to their children about what they see, hear, read out in the big, scary, amoral world every day?
If you're so goddamn offended, shut your mouth and kill your television. Or at least pretend to exercise that little thing called judgment when you plop your infant in front of the thing all day long.