Opinion: Watching the boob tube

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Online Poster

By Eric Naing

This is a true story, I swear. A couple weeks ago I sat down to watch Monday Night Football when tragedy struck. Before the game, ABC showed a short promo for their new show Desperate Housewives. In the promo, one of those very housewives jumped naked into the arms of Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Terrell Owens. And when I saw that, my head exploded – literally. There were brain chunks and skull fragments everywhere. I’d never seen anything more vulgar in my life.

Well, maybe I lied about my moral outrage, about the explosion and about me actually watching Monday Night Football. But I did watch the promo, and I found that what wasn’t shown was more surprising than what was. It contained no nudity, no sex, no violence and no curse words. I’ve seen episodes of The Golden Girls more offensive than this (specifically the episode where Bea Arthur goes full frontal). And yet, the Federal Communications Commission found it necessary to spend time reviewing the clip.

You might remember the FCC from the smack it laid down over Janet Jackson’s wardrobe malfunction at this year’s Super Bowl. Ms. Jackson’s right boob ended up costing CBS $550,000 in FCC fines.

Something is very wrong here. Does the FCC and its chairman Michael Powell, son of that other famous Powell, have anything better to do than scan the airwaves for nipple shots? After all, this is a government agency, not a teenage boy. In a world of terrorism, perpetual war and beheadings, why does it take boobs to drive the government into action?

Speaking of war, many ABC affiliates recently refused to air the movie Saving Private Ryan, citing a fear of being fined by the FCC because of the graphic violence. If this keeps up, TV stations might one day refuse to show Sesame Street for fear of being fined for showing Muppet-on-child indecency.

Of course, television is not the only entertainment medium being terrorized by the FCC. Radio is feeling the merciless wrath of Michael Powell as well. Howard Stern was recently driven to satellite radio after being fined multiple times for indecency. Thank god the FCC was there to protect us from those mud-wrestling, albino lesbian midgets.

Newspapers, cable TV and bookstores are free to put out anything they want without the fear of being threatened with fines or regulations by the FCC. But if PBS shows one little boob in a National Geographic special, the FCC could be all over it like the Jewish community on Matt Vroom (How’s that for local humor?).

The airwaves used to broadcast the Howard Stern show and Desperate Housewives alike are owned by the public, not the government. And the transmission networks that make those airwaves useful are privately owned by various people and companies. But any station wishing to broadcast anything over our airwaves – and with their own equipment – still must beg the FCC for permission. This is more than a little unfair.

The First Amendment states that Congress shall make no law abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press. It seems to me that this is pretty much all the FCC does and therefore must be abolished.

The FCC has become irrelevant, especially with cable, Internet and satellite technology all doing just fine without regulation. Abolishing the FCC would not only save U.S. citizens millions in taxes, it also would eliminate a useless government agency, thus reducing the size of the government (Are you listening, conservatives?). Seems like a win-win scenario to me.

Michael Powell needs retirement. Let’s send him to Florida along with John Ashcroft where they can black out all the naughty bits in Playboy to their heart’s content. Free speech must be protected, and I refuse to stand idle while some government agency decides what I’m allowed to see and hear. As an American, I deserve to see partial nudity with my football and I’ll defend that right to the end.

Eric Naing is a junior in LAS. His column runs Wednesdays. He can be reached at [email protected]