Monday, February 16, 2004

"The shows they censored suggest a perspective that is Talibanesque"

The Bush administration has decided that people with bad hearing have bad judgment, too, and need special guidance from the federal government.

So the U.S. Department of Education is declaring about 200 television programs inappropriate for closed-captioning and denying federal grant requests to make them accessible to the hearing-impaired.


The government is refusing to caption Bewitched and I Dream of Jeannie, apparently fearing that the deaf would fall prey to witchcraft if they viewed the classic sitcoms.

Banning Scoobie-Doo doesn't sound like anything too bad but these are the same folks who started an investigation over a tit shown on TV while those who outed a CIA Agent get a shrug of the shoulders and half a column on page D12. I'd hardly be the first to point out that there is an extreme and disturbing disconnect between those in power and the people they govern. But this is getting to the point where it seriously may jepordize not just what we watch on Television, but how we conduct public discourse.

The Government has no business policing what citizens see and hear (or don't hear, as the case may be). We take this as axiomatic but then just sigh and say, "Oh, that George!" and go on to watch Charmed (assuming you aren't hard of hearing. Then it's reruns of Davy and Goliath for you). And this is the sort of attitude that the people who make such laws are counting on, good old fashioned, homegrown American Apathy. Because after all its just a few deaf kids and the elderly. Who cares, right? Well you should. Because after John Ashcroft gets through reading confidential records of Doctors who perform abortions he might decide that anyone who watches Alias might get some terrorist activity related program ideas into their heads and then it'll be no more James Bond movies. Better nix the Austin Powers marathon, too. Just to be safe.

And that's really what it all boils down to, an overreaching desire for safety in a world that never promised us fields of lilies and happy kittens 24/7. It's ironic that this hyperactive desire for Safety Above all else spreads only fear and insecurity. People who are afraid that what they watch and listen too might be used against them won't watch or hear anything. Just to be safe. Which is mighty convenient as docility and fear of one's neighbors is a mighty convenient trait to have when running a police state. Just ask Uncle Joe.

Just when you think that BushCo. can't surprise you any further, they make watching TV an act of rebellion.

~Link via Neil Gaiman

Update 2/17/04: Fellow LC member Scott at The Gamer's Nook has more information on this matter.


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