Scratch a censor long enough, find a frustrated hedonist.
For what must be censored by someone, must first be heard, read, seen by someone!
The protector of public morality has a history of venerable antiquity, but so does warfare, and age is not a recommendation for either. Some people apparently have an inside track to truth and purity, or at least they would like others to think so. And if they underestimate the general level of intelligence on this point, they can always resort to the scoundrel’s phony exculpation of ‘the children’.
The starting point for the censor’s mentality is a high arrogance that deludes her into the unshakable belief that she, having heard, read, seen the material to be censored, knows better than all other human creatures what is proper for the rest of us to listen to on iPods, read in books or papers or iPads, and see in movies or on handhelds or television and computer screens. This attitude promotes a centralization of all decisions regarding what should be permissible in the private sphere of entertainment and quite effectively exonerates the individual from personal responsibility.
Some television programs are singled out for censorial excoriation, witty and amusing though they may be. They are periodically flayed by the self-righteously outraged who take the programs much more seriously than they surely are meant to be. But, say the censors, what an adult may understand as humorous, an undiscriminating child may take as real. Well, duh – of course! But here comes that crushing burden or responsibility: why can’t parents simply say no the tender child’s insistence that he be allowed to watch a given program? In this way, the vulnerable young will not be harmed and the decadent old can still have their thrills. Why should the tail that is the child wag the dog that is the adult, and so infantilize discourse?
The argument about violence is a red herring that stinks to high heaven: daily newspapers and news programs (remember the graphicness of the day-long and very public reports on the Clinton scandals? the horrors in Iraq and Afghanistan?) contain material much more atrocious and horrifying than any TV serial. How many parents snatched from impressionable offspring the recent morning papers with their huge headlines about murder, mayhem, rape and rapine? Yet these events are not fiction and are not played in an upbeat tempo of self-parody. These were and still are hard, brutal realities, as are dozens of other events reported in newspapers, weekly magazines and daily newscasts, all of which are fully accessible to any child.
You’ll excuse me if I am not impressed with these censors who hide behind a factitious concern for innocent children.
There are enough regulators and interferers – as official as they are officious – already securely ensconced among the acronymic agencies of that city on the Potomac and the fifty state capitols. The last thing we need are local zealots trying to go national about private pleasures and guilts.
Abdicate your responsibilities, and plenty of people will be happy to step in and assume them for you!