11/17/2004

Right-wing moralists launch censor war

Right-wing moralists launch censor war - [Sunday Herald]: "America"

America’s freedom of speech is under attack. Mickey Mouse and Private Ryan had better watch out, says Ros Davidson in Los Angeles

WHAT do Tom Hanks, sex researcher Alfred Kinsey, U2’s Bono, Janet Jackson’s boobs and Mickey Mouse have in common? They’re all targets in an attack on American popular culture, which is accelerating following George Bush’s re-election.

E-mail complaints from angry right-wing viewers are flooding federal regulators this weekend following the unedited broadcast on Remembrance Day of the film Saving Private Ryan.

In fact, one third of the local TV stations affiliated with national network ABC, owned by Disney, refused to air the critically acclaimed second world war blockbuster because it contains swear words. The Oscar-winning film about D-Day, directed by Steven Spielberg, also includes graphic, realistic violence.

The 66 stations, from Boston to Detroit and Honolulu, said they feared sanctions from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for airing “profanity” during prime evening hours. That was despite the fact that ABC had promised to cover any fine by the commission, whose members are appointed by its president.

“ABC crossed the line by airing at least 20 ‘f’ words and 12 ‘s’ words during prime-time viewing hours!,” says the evangelical group American Family Association, which claims it has 2.3 million members and is one of the groups leading the revamped charge against “immorality”. “We believe ABC should have aired their salute to heroes without violating broadcast decency laws,” it said.

Each TV station could face a fine of £18,000 if found to have aired “indecent” material. Under long-standing guide lines, profanity is banned from 6am to 10pm on America’s publicly owned broadcast channels, but not on cable channels.

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