Doorstops and PaperweightsWritten by Terry Mitchell
Ted Stevens (R-Alaska), chairman of Senate Commerce Committee, has come up with what he believes is a brilliant idea. He thinks FCC should have to power to hold cable and satellite channels to same decency standards as over-the-air broadcasters. Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas), Stevens' counterpart in House, agrees. Each plans to propose bills to that end in his respective house of U.S. Congress. Many of their colleagues, eager to always be viewed as tough on indecency, are ready to sign on to their proposed legislation. Never mind fact that courts have struck down similar legislation in past. Stevens, doesn't see this as a problem. If he got his wish, Congress would just pass it and then, according to Stevens, "take [the cable and satellite industry] on and let courts decide." At core of Senator Stevens' rationale is fact that cable and satellite have become almost as ubiquitous as broadcast TV. Over 80% of all U.S. homes now subscribe to cable or satellite TV. In those homes, Stevens and his cohorts would argue, viewers make little or no distinction between subscription channels and broadcast channels, which are right along side each other on cable or satellite box. Therefore, he feels that they should all be held to same standard of decency. On surface, that sounds like a sensible argument. However, there are three major problems with his proposed legislation. First, unlike broadcast television, people choose to bring cable and satellite TV channels into their homes. This choice is a private contract between company and subscriber, delivered over that company's equipment. No one is forced to subscribe to cable or satellite TV. In fact, subscribers pay an ever-increasing subscription price for such a privilege. Most people, except those who live in mountainous and/or rural areas, can receive broadcast channels over air with a strong antenna. Even those who live in areas where over-the-air channels cannot be accessed with an antenna can subscribe to a very basic package that includes only their local channels and basic cable channels like The Weather Channel, some home-shopping channels, and one or two religious channels. Decency would never be an issue with any of aforementioned cable channels, so where is their argument? The argument against regulating premium channels like HBO, which Stevens wants to include in his legislation, should be a no-brainer. These channels do not come with any basic package and are selected and paid for individually by their subscribers. But what about basic channels that come along as part of a "classic cable" and/or "extended tier" package? So far, cable and satellite companies have refused to offer them on an a-la-carte basis and FCC has ruled in their favor on this matter. Therefore, people are paying for channels like MTV, for example, that many find objectionable. Shouldn't these channels have to abide by broadcast decency standards? No, because people choose to bring these packages of channels into their homes. Now, granted, many of them subscribe to these packages solely because they want access to channels like ESPN, CNN, and Fox News, which are generally not included with most basic tiers. They couldn't care less about any of other channels in package. In a perfect world, subscribers could select these channels individually without having to pay for a lot of channels they don't want. However, world is not perfect and life is not fair. To soften blow, cable and satellite operators have provided a way for parents to block their children's access to channels they deem inappropriate. Regulating indecency on these channels wouldn't accomplish anything that parental lockouts couldn't.
I Pity NigeriaWritten by DD Phil
Fear grips my heart when I see a crowd of people trekking home from a corner of a street. They are all moving towards my direction. I think they look very much like people migrating into our country. Maybe I should call them refugees. But, were they really what I took them to be? For I know my country is not a place where people would willingly come to reside.
Out of large crowd, I see a lady with a baby on her back smiling at me. As she comes closer, I discover she is a neighbor. I smile back at her, but with curiosity within me.
"Neighbor, where are these people coming from?" I ask. "From St. Matthew," she replies, as I look into her eyeballs with surprise. "What's happening in St. Matthew today?" I ask again. "Nothing, we just attended first mass," she answers. "You mean this is just a mass for a Sunday service?" "Yes," she says, nodding her head, still smiling.
I decide to keep a lookout for second mass. The crowd was large too. The third mass had largest crowd of all. It could be said to double first and second mass.
Mind you. These were only ones I saw that very day. I did not mention other churches in that same vicinity and other places. I live in a place where you'll find not less than five churches in a street with loud speakers mounted everywhere. And this so much affect our hearing. So we shout at top of our voices, making signs with fingers for easier communication.
My country is in a great mess. Imagine a place where milk and honey flow. Nigeria is blessed with oil and agriculture. A land blessed by God, for every Nigerian to enjoy. But, only some sets of individuals are rich. Why? When Military were in power, I thought things were bad. But as civilians came on, things became worse.
Actually, we all wanted democracy. We clamored for it. But as it is now, I no longer understand meaning of word democracy. It sounds like it means "demonstration of craziness," because we've not experienced its benefits and it never favored us. Maybe we should go back to autocratic system.
I wish our past heroes who once ruled our nation, such as Alhaji Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, The Right Honorable Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, Major General Johnson Aguiyi Ironsi, including other regional leaders like M.I. Okpara, Awolowo and Sarduana of Sokoto will come back to life. They will see that their labor for Nigeria was in vain.
Our new presidents no longer do anything right for this nation to develop. We no more serve our fatherland with love and strength; neither do we serve in faith. Even patriotic rhythm of our National Anthem has lost its value.
We do not "serve with hearts and might." Neither do we experience "peace and unity." Rather we experience tribal and religious wars. In Northern part of Nigeria, we constantly hear of Christians and Muslims killing themselves. Hatred for other religious groups has been our practice. Why?