Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Censorship vs. Morals

In the past week, we have seen Ray Romano, Sally Field, Katherine Heigl and now Andrew Meyer all being cut off and censored in some form or another.

It all started at the Emmy's show on Sunday night. We were watching as we usually do, and we noticed that on several occasions the camera panned to an obscure picture above the stage. We couldn't quite figure out why Fox kept doing this, until I came into work on Monday a.m. It turns out that instead of bleeping the comments out, Fox went ahead and just totally cut off the speaker. Since when has Fox cared about values and morals? Since when has Fox decided that bleeping is unacceptable?? It seems on most of their shows that the bleeping is in full force. I just couldn't understand it.

Most notably during the Emmy's program, Sally Field stood up and spouted off some anti-war comments. Now, I am all for the idea that there is a time and a place for everything, that perhaps this was not her forum to voice her opinion, however, totally cutting them out?? Come on. Where do we draw the line?

A couple of days ago, a young 21 year-old University of Florida student was tasered after he "incited a riot" while asking Sen. Kerry a few tough questions. Now, I have no idea what this kid may have said to the cops (other than what I have seen from the video), what really may have led to these events, but one thing remains clear. Sen. Kerry wanted to answer those questions. He felt he could have handled the situation, he was not offended (at least not from the sound of this) by Mr. Meyer's comments and he was prepared to give an answer. The mic was turned off, the kid was brought to the ground and before you know it, a taser gun is in his back.

I have a real problem with all of this. I am not one for approving of the profanity and vulgarity that is sweeping through our television sets. In fact, I despise it. I don't think a lot of what we see is appropriate, but to censor, completely!!! anyone's right to free speech upsets me. This is what our country is all about. Being able to speak your mind, in any peaceful forum. TV stations are so quick to allow profanity during early hours in the evening, but they won't let Sally Field comment on the war?? Bleep her bad word, not her entire monologue. There are plenty of things that I think the network television stations could do without. Hearing Ray Romano say some nasty things, or Sally Field commenting on the war, is no worse than watching Family Guy, or any of the other 5 tasteless programs that Fox airs. Reality television is even worse and Fox (along with their competition) will go to great lengths to get the ratings.

Now, onto Mr. Meyer. This situation upset me for so many reasons. The censorship, the abrupt cut-off of his mic, the taser. The taser. Why the need for the taser? Again, not knowing the full situation, it's hard to comment beyond what the news has fed us. It upsets me because of what I felt was excessive force used by the police. It upsets me because Sen. Kerry wanted to answer this poor kid's questions. It upsets me because the younger generation, the future of this country, has some tough questions. And we don't want to answer them. Or we do, I don't know. Sen. Kerry wanted to. It upsets me because I don't know where this country is going. Are we about freedom? Or are we about something else. Something much scarier. I am leaning towards the latter.


Scott and Rach said...

Good post, Em. I can see both sides, but I think I'm leaning to one that isn't the same as you!

I cringe at what stations are putting on the television airways. There's the addage, if you don't like it, then turn the channel. Unfortunately, there's no channels left to turn to. How can that be?

This is what I find difficult to swallow: "This is what our country is all about. Being able to speak your mind, in any peaceful forum."

For most people, being able to "speak your mind" ends up turning into a me-fest. All about me. My opinion, my view, my choice of profanity, my choice of obscene language, me, me, me. This country and the people who live here have lost respect for others, have lost their manners and lost their common courtesy. And unfortunately for someone like me, that sucks.

Why? Because I find my morals being stung every day by people who feel entitled as American's to so-called free speech. People who toss around words and opinions without considering who might be in earshot.

With GOD as their witness, our forefathers founded this country on some very great morals. I don't think they envisioned our country the way it is today, where God is NO ONE's witness, where no one has morals (Christian or not).

To play devil's advocate and in Fox's defense, making an on-the-spot decision to bleep someone's choice of expression for fear of penalty by the FCC is a difficult challenge. As the show's producer, you have one moment in time to make the choice to block or not. And without knowing what words might tumble out of someone's mouth, it's a risk you have to take.

Okay, just had to get all that out there. Thanks for letting me share, Em. Keep up the great posts! :)

apt said...

I think Sally should have been allowed to say what she wanted to. She worked hard professionally to get the award, and her speech time was hers to use. Also, I don't watch the show, but I think that one of her sons on the show is in the Army, so I can see a relation. If Sally Field was about to strip naked or let some profanities fly, I can see why the producers would cut her off, but taking a very public stand on a very public issue? Poor choice, I think.

The guy who was tassered... from my understanding, it wasn't a censorship issue. He had gone over his time, and when he wasn't stopping the police tried to remove him. He resisted. Did they take a huge step over a line? I think so. Also, it seems this guy is a clown. I don't think he deserved to have a huge shock applied to his body, but I don't think he was innocent either.

Amanda said...

Honestly, I am happy about the censorship of the Emmys (I don't know if it was done by Fox or "the Emmys" but it is their right, a lot of people don't want to hear it, and I think cutting it out discourages it in the future.

I heard about the Kerry kid, didn't see the video, but my husband did, and this upsets me, but for other reasons... I don't know why they stopped the kid, but it WAS NOT excessive force, the kid was RESISTING, THAT is why he got the tasor. He should have just stopped and let the police do their job, and not resist, he deserved it, they risk their lives every day and shouldn't have to deal with how that kid acted.

Em said...

Thank you for all of your comments so far!

Rach, I agree and disagree with you. I think that speaking your mind is in some way, inevitably about you. They are your thoughts and feelings, molded by your experiences. I do think that there is too much 'spewing' going on, but it is our right to do so, intelligent or not. I do agree that we have lost respect and our manners in a lot of cases. Unfortunately, I don't see any end in sight.

Amy-I think it was censorship only because the kid did not hear the response that Sen. Kerry was trying to give him. Yes, he is most definitely a clown. Whether time was up or not, he should have been able to finish his thought and dialogue with the senator.

Amanda-I know you have a husband that is a police officer, but I do think you need to view the video for yourself. Whether he was resisting them or not, does not necessarily mean he needed to be tasered, in front of his fellow classmates. From what I could tell on that video, they did not tell him what he had done wrong. They just threw him down and tasered the heck out of him. He really did not know that he had done anything wrong and I feel that the review of their actions will prove in his favor.

Christina said...

I was reading Time yesterday morning and they had a little graphic that indicated that the US when compared to other countries their ease of free speech had dropped 20 places from the last time the analysis was done! I think the best free speech environments were in Australia, Netherlands/Sweden, and Canada.

apt said...

That should read "poor editing choice" in my comment.

Amanda said...

I viewed the video after my reply, and tried to comment again, but it wouldn't work, grrr! Anyways, the police tried to stop him from talking, tried to take the mic away and he wouldn't let them, so they tried to escort him out, and he gave a problem, if he would have just walked out with them, non of it would have happened. I think he deserved what he got, and he had the power to stop what was happening