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FIRST-PERSON: Upholding decency

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (BP)–In this age of decadence and perversion, everything that can possibly be corrupted is becoming corrupted. Thus, the moral holding forth of artistic and creative cultural expression is essential by those who understand and enjoy what the arts provide for all people.

Recently, the Federal Communications Commission refused to prohibit the airing of the F-word on public airways if not used in the context of sex. This means that on stations around the country, this despicable term can be uttered without constraint if it does not relate to sex. This is certainly an unfortunate turn of public policy.

Public broadcasting is one of the few remaining bastions of decency in America. It is a moral outrage to think that the bureaucrats at the Federal Communications Commission in Washington, D.C., would not do everything in their power to preserve this final frontier of decent broadcasting.

Hollywood films for television and cinema, slick racy magazines and excess radio have handily redefined what is culturally acceptable on screen, in speech and in exposed private behavior. Pornography, profanity and perverse thematic features are forced on the viewing public, even though it has been made quite clear to that industry that the public prefers decent entertainment.

The proposed changes in public broadcasting will be without oversight. “No, we don’t monitor. We wait until we get a complaint,” said one official.

According to Shaunti Feldhahn’s Atlanta Journal-Constitution article on Oct. 3, the FCC’s Enforcement Bureau made a formal ruling that such language may be offensive but, because it is not said sexually, it was not within the scope of the commission’s prohibition of indecent program content. What it looks like, in this case, is that the horse is off from the gate, and who knows at what finish line it will end.

Adding to this troubling scenario of the ponderous silliness of the use of the F-word is U.S. Senator and Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry’s use of it to criticize President Bush’s Iraq policy in an interview with Rolling Stone Magazine.

As parents, citizens of the world, all who are consumers of modern-day entertainment of the airways, we are morally obligated to speak out against the decadence that now threatens to flood the public airways along with every other media outlet.

James Dobson of Focus on the Family did well to demand that that Abercrombie & Fitch not sell its sexually explicit Christmas issue of their clothing magazine. Thankfully the December issue was removed from circulation. Although A&F may never realize it, Dobson did them a favor by calling attention to the absurdity of circulating a clothing magazine in which the models wore no clothing.

Until and unless decent Americans speak out against the “soft porn” being flooded into our homes by an out-of-control media, we will continue to be bombarded by those who offer no alternative to people who are not fixated on sex, obscenity and profanity.
Terriel R. Byrd, Ph.D., is assistant professor of religion and director of urban ministries studies at Palm Beach Atlantic University in West Palm Beach, Fla.

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  • Terriel Byrd