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Why not? Why draw lines? Let’s not let audience get bored, lose record, ticket or advertising dollars. Lines seem to be vanishing fast. We have pay-per-view, bare-fisted, no-holds-barred bloody fighting. There is full-contact teen dancing that looks exactly like sexual act, gay and straight TV shows fully accessible to children where theme throughout is free for all sex. We’re also treated to bare breast exposure, bumping and grinding, ignited horse flatulence, erection commercials and bestiality jokes during family formatted Super Bowl. The wave of reality shows seem to have no limit in their reach for stupidity, shock and horror.
It most certainly appears that race is on to remove all standards and that conscience takes a back seat if dollars are to be made. In mayhem of shock, titillation and entertainment fanfare, we seem to have lost our moral compass. Violence is applauded, and sex, an act meant for committed adults capable of shouldering responsibilities of family, is presented as mere thrill-ride recreation for people of all ages.
I’m all for freedom of expression, but as with anything else in life, potential consequences must be measured. Vulgarity, sex and other victimless acts do not in themselves harm. So it is easy to reason that there should be no barriers to their free expression. That’s way naive, idealistic and short sighted thinking of children works. But unbridled freedom demands an ideal world where all people know how – and are willing – to use judgment to not let freedom devolve into savagery. I don’t think humans have risen to that point yet, do you? Even with all rules humans have ever devised to reign in people, crazies remain and we continually teeter on brink of social breakdown. That’s why pushing envelope can be so terrifying to anyone who has sense to see beyond “freedom of expression,” thrills and immediate gratifications.
The problem is, media wants sensational, no matter how vulgar, to be fair game in a never-ending cycle of profiteering one-upmanship. Each new provocative display raises ante and challenges competition to push envelope even further. Corporate greed without conscience is a dangerous thing particularly when it can impact world via airways that know no barriers.
So let’s put brakes on and even back up a little to clean up what is freely available, particularly for children’s eyes and ears. They need education, rules and time to develop conscience without confusing smut, vulgarity and every form of base biological and criminal urge being visually and “boom-boxed” to them as if that is what life is about, how it is celebrated and what they should aspire to.
Modern communication is such a wonderful opportunity to uplift conscience and reason. The old time, so-called corny movies were a clear attempt to do just that by promoting and advocating morality and standards. The good guys always won and everyone was decent except bad guys. How far (down) we have come! Entertainers should see their unique powers of influence as something other than a profit opportunity to promote depravity and to pander to those who evidently love to be dumbed-down. But for too many, as George Bernard Shaw observed, “Virtue is insufficient temptation.”
Schools are tightly controlled because they shape emerging buds of future society. In larger classroom of world, media is emerging as school. As leisure time increases, people feed more and more on entertainment. What a wonderful opportunity through visual and auditory impact of story to raise public’s sense of right, dignity and ethic.
So there should be laws that prohibit media from airing programs that do not have socially redeeming value. I know this smacks of censorship, and it is. Nevertheless, a lot of freedom of expression could still be permitted. How do we judge what is not socially redeemable? Use extrapolation tool described earlier. Ask question whether society would be advanced or degraded if action were universally practiced. Will open and free sex without regard for age, gender or whatever create a better society? Will celebration of crime, filthy language, disrespect for parents and authority, sexism, racism, ageism and like create a better society? The answer is not difficult and if an error is made, why not make it on side of moderation and conservatism so long as people’s basic freedom to be better people is not interfered with?
If government does not properly intercede, then thinking people should use their dollars as decency tools. Consumers are as culpable as purveyors and must interject conscience where media and govern
Dr. Wysong is author of seven books on health, nutrition, philosophy and origin of life. He is director of the non-profit Wysong Instute and author of the Wysong e-Health Newsletter (free on-line) now in its 18th year of continuous publication. http://www.wysong.net