Speaking of things I'm not optimistic about, there's a huge danger to free speech percolating in the federal courts: The feds are trying Buttman. (Thanks to Jacob for the link.) Buttman is an extraordinarily successful pornographer whose oeuvre apparently includes milk enemas. (I'll take Amanda Hess' word for that one.) Now while I do think Buttman - real name John Stagliano - should face a lifetime in prison for improper wasting of delicious, delicious chocolate milk, the decision to put him - or anyone, for that matter - on trial for obscenity is extremely worrisome.
Let's pause for a second while we read Martin Sheen making my argument for me because I can't find the damn video:
John Van Dyke: If our children can buy pornography on any street corner for five dollars, isn't that too high a price to pay for free speech?Folks, when the First Amendment says "no law," it damn well means it. No "oh but maybe it'll offend my delicate sensibilities" exceptions allowed. And no "think of the children!" exceptions either. FCC chair Julius Genachowski opines in that first link:
President Josiah Bartlet: No.
John Van Dyke: Really?
President Josiah Bartlet: On the other hand, I think that five dollars is too high a price to pay for pornography.
We’re reviewing the court’s decision in light of our commitment to protect children, empower parents, and uphold the First Amendment.First thing. If you think kids are going to be sheltered from expletives by the FCC, you're a fucking idiot. My two-year-old doesn't watch TV outside of the Backyardigans and some sporting events, and she'll still learn to cuss. You know why? Because she's around me half the time, and occasionally, Daddy has to put something together while she watches, and that leads to some expletives that are frequently more than fleeting. You think giving Bono a fine for dropping an F-bomb is gonna stop your kids from swearing? Fuck no. Guess what? Even if you're Mr./Ms. Perfect Daddy or Mommy who never swears, your kid's gonna have friends and they're gonna be able to swear. Chances are your kid will know four cuss words before they even know who Bono is.
Second, it's not a big deal. What do you think happens when a kid learns a cuss word? An angel's wings shrivel up? Part of her soul dies? Fuck that. I fail to see what the big deal around cuss words is. A kid who yells "fuck" because he stubbed his toe isn't hurting anyone. And a kid can be plenty hurtful while speaking the Queen's perfect English - just ask anyone who went through elementary and middle school. You want to protect kids? Teach them not to be bullying assholes.
Third, if obscenity in porn is "damaging" to kids, I have to ask... exactly how are kids getting a hold of explicit pornography anyway? Do you just leave your Buttman videos on the goddamn coffee table? Oh, sorry honey, I thought I was showing you "Thomas and the Really Brave Engine" but instead you're watching "Anal Angels 18: Junk in the Trunk." My bad. It really doesn't seem like it's that hard to keep from showing your kids porn, and by the time they're old enough to take the initiative to find porn themselves it's probably not so "damaging" or whatever, now is it? It's not the government's fucking job to raise your kids. It's yours. Hide your porn stash, turn the TV off anything you find objectionable, and buy one of those channel blockers if you must. For example, I don't let my kid watch "The 700 Club," because fuck that shit. That's obscenity right there. But you can choose your own path. If you don't want your kid exposed to awards shows where THERE MIGHT BE CUSSING, don't let your kid watch them. Don't try to take it away from those of us mature adults who are perfectly capable of enjoying (or not enjoying) porn and cussing for what it is.
And finally, which would you rather have your kid learn?
1) Adults say some funny sounding words and do some really freaky disgusting stuff naked.
2) Words written on a page 220 years ago are utterly meaningless.
Think about your priorities, people. I'm okay with my daughter accidentally learning 1) as long as she never, ever, thinks 2) is okay.
Yeah, I said it. A kid learning about weird sex isn't a big deal. Proper parenting can put that into context for kids. Chances are if you talk openly and honestly about what they've seen accidentally then they'll be okay - just don't overreact. A kid learning that the right to free speech can be violated at will, however, is a tragedy. And by prosecuting pornographers and punishing swearers on TV, that's exactly what we're teaching them. Munroe's Law applies here - consenting adults selling videos of their weird sex to other consenting adults isn't a danger to society. Kids accidentally seeing those videos isn't a danger to our society. Rendering the Constitution meaningless because we find the actions of other consenting adults "icky" and because we need to Protect Our Children? That's fuckin' danger.