May 27, 2000
SUPREME COURT APPROVES ALL DAY CABLE PORN
The Supreme Court issued an incredible opinion
this week, that it OK for Cable TV to broadcast hard core pornography
depicting intercourse with the signal only partially scrambled, at any
time, so that soon it can be seen by children when they come home from
Up till now, this smut was available only
after 10 p.m. The Playboy Channel said this imposed a hardship that
reduced its income by $2.5 million a year.
The Supreme Court, in a 5-4 decision, showed
more compassion for Playboy than for children who will soon get access
How did America get to the point that raw sex
is defended on grounds of free speech?
America has become corrupted by pornography.
Too many of us watch it and tell ourselves that it is harmless. But it a
silent factor in perhaps half of America's divorces, according to Dr.
Richard Land, director of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious
Liberty Commission. It has melted away criticism of open adulterers or
even those in public office who practice kinky sex. Bill Clinton's poll
numbers rose as details of his affair became known.
However, this decision is a watershed event
that will spread the corruption rapidly to our children unless decisive
action is taken by millions of parents and voters.
First, they must understand the issue, which
is a bit technical.
More than half of homes get TV via cable which
offers premium channels at an extra cost, such as HBO, Showtime, Disney
and Playboy or Spice, another sex channel recently bought by Playboy.
Cable companies ''scramble'' the signal of those channels to those who
don't pay for them. However, most cable companies allow the full sound
and much of the regular signal to be seen by non-subscribers, followed
by seconds of twisted signals. Why? They hope you will see enough to
make you want to pay $10 a month more to see uninterrupted movies or
Congress was concerned enough about it that it
passed the Telecommunications Act of 1996 that ordered Cable TV to
''fully scramble'' its signals, or to show such programming only past 10
p.m. when few children are watching. It was a reasonable law to protect
Another section of the law requires cable
operators to block any cable channel at the request of a subscriber. The
Supreme Court said this loophole gave parents a ''less restrictive''
means for parents to protect their children. In First Amendment matters,
''if a less restrictive means is available for the government to achieve
its goals, the government must use it,'' wrote Justice Anthony Kennedy
for the majority.
Playboy challenged the restrictions, and a
lower court ruled that the rules violated the First Amendment by
targeting a certain kind of speech sexually explicit material...and
banned it for most of the day. Kennedy said that silenced ''protected
speech for two-thirds of the day in every home...regardless of the
presence...of children or of the wishes of the viewers....To prohibit
this much speech is a significant restriction of communication between
speakers and willing adult listeners.''
Thus, in effect, the court equated the moans
and groans of copulating couples to the free speech of newspapers or
candidates running for public office.
Justice Thomas conceded that ''at least some
of the cable programming'' is obscene, but noted the Clinton
Administration, in defending the law, provided ''no factual finding that
any of the materials are, in fact, obscene.'' But if Thomas thought it
obscene, why did he vote to allow it to be seen 24 hours a day?
One sad small answer is that the Senate
confirmed Clarence Thomas as a Justice in 1991 when it knew that he
regularly watched porn and had made sexually offensive comments to a
colleague. Thomas normally votes with the conservatives. But on this, he
sided with the liberals.
Parents, here is a three-step plan of action.
First, you must take a look at what will soon be available to your
children when they come home from school. Tune into your Playboy or
Spice channel after 10 p.m. and ask yourselves if you want your children
to see this smut.
Second, write a letter to your cable company
asking it to install a blocking device on your sets, and urge others in
your PTA to do so too. Pat Trueman of the American Family Association
thinks that if 10,000 subscribers made such a demand, the cost to the
cable operator would be so high that it might continue to block access
to porn to all homes until 10 p.m.
Finally, raise the issue with Gore, Bush and
others running for public office.
''What the court has done is to say to
parents, `You are now on your own to protect your children from
pornography on Cable TV and the Internet. We will not allow the
government to help you,'' says Bob Peters, President of Morality in
Media, a Catholic watchdog group.
Copyright 2000 Michael J. McManus.
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