John E Gunter | December 17, 2004
My wife was telling me about this story last night and I wanted to look it up due to an earlier discussion that touched on this very subject. Since the earlier discussion wasn't really about this subject, I thought I'd start a new discussion.

This is what happens when a corporation doesn't police what it sells, the public sues them. Now, it's been said that by not selling certain products that corporation is censuring things and it's unfair. By that line of thinking, if the corporation censures nothing and sells products no matter what the content, isn't it equally unfair to do this?

(link)

This is why corporations do not sell products, which might be considered obscene, because if they do, they get sued.

John

Anna Gregoline | December 17, 2004
There's a morality war going on in our country right now. Censorship of everything is going to be on the rise.

And now the article loads....it's all over the F WORD! Oh my goodness. I also believe that Wal-Mart probably didn't know about the word - they sell "clean" versions of CDS when they are labeled as objectionable, but this CD wasn't labeled as such. They used a song in a promo that was clean, but they could have been supplied the song without knowing there were other versions.

I think this and most other kinds of censorship are ridiculous.

Erik Bates | December 17, 2004
[hidden by request]

Jackie Mason | December 17, 2004
[hidden by request]

Jackie Mason | December 17, 2004
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Anna Gregoline | December 17, 2004
A lot of parents might not give a shit, but it's still their responsibilty. I don't like the government ever deciding for me what I should see, hear, or consume.

Denise Sawicki | December 17, 2004
Children are already not allowed to attend R-rated movies by themselves, how is enforcing video game ratings any different? It looks like this would just prevent children from buying or renting the games themselves. Parents could still go out and buy the game for their children if they felt it was appropriate.

Anna Gregoline | December 17, 2004
But don't we already have a rating system for video games? I thought that kids were already stopped from buying things over their heads violence-wise. Perhaps I'm wrong, I don't know, as I don't buy video games.

Denise Sawicki | December 17, 2004
We have a rating system but apparently the ratings are just "guidelines" and it is not illegal to sell any kind of game to minors. It says here however that "many retailers have signed up for ESRB's Commitment to Parents program in which they pledge to use their best efforts not to rent or sell M-rated games to children under 17 without parental consent."
(link)

And over here you can listen to an NPR story on the particular idea that Jackie was mentioning: (link)

Can you tell I am bored today?

edit: OK it is not actually illegal for kids to watch R-rated movies either but my guess is that rule is more consistently enforced. (But I don't know since I didn't watch movies as a kid. :P )

Kris Weberg | December 19, 2004
Has anyon here ever met a 13-year-old who didn't already know the word "fuck" anyway?

Scott Hardie | December 19, 2004
Jackie said what was my first thought upon reading this news story: Wal*Mart brought it upon themselves by only selling clean albums. That is something that is seriously fucked up (oops!) about our country right now: People who go out of their way to provide an unnecessary service are made to be financially liable upon the rare but statistically inevitable occasions when that service fails. Instead of thanking Wal*Mart for voluntarily keeping their music shelves 99.9% profanity-free for all these years when other retailers haven't had the balls (oops!) to do the same, these parents are suing Wal*Mart for selling one swear word instead of suing the other retailers for selling many, many swear words. That this lawsuit has any merit is a fucking (oops!) joke.

Not only that, but Wal*Mart's smart business move at this point would be to phase out their policy of selling clean albums. These litigious parents would be killing the golden goose for all the other parents who like to keep their kids' entertainment clean. The old saying used to be "it's all fun and games until somebody loses an eye," but I think it should be changed to "until somebody files a lawsuit."

On movies: The ratings system exists precisely because the film industry wants to avoid government censorship. The MPAA was created for this very purpose, to assign every major release a content rating that exhibitors, who are also fearful of governmental control, will voluntarily enforce. There was a recent controversy over an "R card" being offered by a theater in southern Illinois: Parents who didn't have the time or desire to take their kids to every R-rated movie could sign their teenagers up for a laminated photo ID giving the theater permission to admit the kids. It sounds like a good idea (I'd probably get one for my kids), but the MPAA reasonably opposed it on the grounds that it takes control away from the exhibitor, who must then admit the kids to any film except NC-17 releases or face an egregious lawsuit. In other words, greater control for parents means less control for the movie industry, and less control for the movie industry means a greater chance of government censorship. I can imagine some fuckers (oops!) out there like the parents in the Wal*Mart case suing the exhibitor for admitting their kid to an R-rated film that gave the child emotional trauma, even after they'd signed the ID card; after that happens, watch the lawsuit compel the government to legislate enforcement of the MPAA's ratings system and the movie industry stop bankrolling most R-rated movies because they won't be profitable. When a lawsuit can be filed for frivolous reasons, service providers are damned (oops!) if they do and damned (oops!) if they don't, and either way we're eventually screwed (oops!) out of the service.

Amy Austin | December 28, 2004
Hahaha... I'm going to start using the expression that way, Scott -- ..."until someone files a lawsuit." That's funny. Perfect.

Well, Scott, you also have to admit -- it's easy enough to get a fake ID... how much simpler to forge an "R card" (not that I don't like the idea...)?

This whole topic reminds me of my own family and the peculiar/absolutely foreign (to me) ways in which my brother and sister are raised. In case I haven't mentioned it (or you've forgotten), I have a significantly younger brother (16) and sister (13) who have never attended public school and are raised by my father and step-mother (their mother) in the home school/home church community where they live. Completely different from my own dysfunctional upbringing... but I respect it. Except, sometimes, I find myself blown away/frustrated by the (very few) things I happen to witness. Having visited these last two weekends, I have a couple of observations that fit right in here...

First, let me say that one thing I see that is pretty cool for them is that there appears to be no "set" bedtime for them -- we went to bed at 0130/0200 on more than one night that I was there (holidays/weekends, of course!) -- but it appears that they are considered grown enough to follow the same common sense that the rest of us do about bedtime, with regards to the following day's activities. They are only "forced" to bed when they are in violate of that. Wish I had as much choice when I was their age!

Okay, so one of the things keeping us up at such an unreasonable (to some) hour was a family viewing of the movie "Bourne Identity" -- cool... I'd seen it, family hadn't, and I was really quite surprised (given their general attitude toward TV entertainment) that it was something that we were going to watch, but cool! So, we're all engrossed... up until the scene in the car between Jason & Maria where she asks what kind of a person pays $20000 for a ride... and then my sister whispers something to my brother (who is holding the remote), and suddenly the movie is fast-forwarded for a second until my sister says, "there!" And the viewing continues, without a blink from my folks. However, I am perplexed, and I say, "What was *that* all about?!" Brother says, he doesn't know, but did as sister told him to, because apparently (stepmother volunteers at this point) all the movies they watch are "pre-screened" by a "family friend"... !!! Okay, I say, but there wasn't anything too delicate for teenagers to see in that five minutes... I don't even remember what was said! (Why I was a little annoyed about it, too...) To which my sometimes overly sarcastic step-mother says, "Well, we all see things from a different perspective..." Which made me even *more* annoyed. And of course, the movie was sped up again for the "love scene"... God knows that they don't need to be seeing *that* (my sarcasm here). I didn't say anything.

That was the week before Christmas. The following weekend, they had "Supremacy" to watch. I commented before it started that at least there were no "love scenes" to FF through, and my brother smiled, saying yeah, he knew, and that he had also found out that the first inexplicable FF was about the use of "the F-word" by Matt Damon (which I believe he used only once, not a litany). I heard my step-mother pipe in from the kitchen, "We already had this discussion, and I don't want to hear anymore of it, or we won't watch the movie, and you'll skip where your told -- if there's any argument about it, it goes off. You know that." "Yes, ma'am," was my brother's response. Of course, my sister had not attended any pre-screen with this one, as with the last (she had watched "Identity" with this "friend" who does the screening), and there was no FF this time. I don't know if that's because she didn't have a good enough idea about where to stop it this time or because it wasn't deemed "necessary"... but, needless to say, I was infinitely relieved that we completed the movie, uncensored.

So... all of this brings me to my next observation... about my brother's PS2. I saw him playing "Grand Theft Auto" and remarked that I was quite surprised that he had that game (the unspoken implication being, "in light of your mother's neurosis"). Of course, there are also "parental controls" on the game that I was unaware of until I saw the screen that said something to that effect... no idea what those are set to or anything, but my dad was right there watching him play the game, and my comment led into a discussion about people trying to ban games like that. My father scrunched up his face and told me that no, they weren't! Mind you, my father is a commuter and listens to public/talk radio more than most -- I cannot believe that he would assert such a thing to me... I know that this sort of thing is fodder for PR and such. I forwarded him a link about that governor Jackie mentioned, saying "I told you..." I just hope that making my point isn't something that will result in my siblings' entertainment being revoked! (I don't think it will -- but I can never be certain about these things anymore...)

So, does anyone else here find this a bit puzzling and inconsistent... it's okay to watch movie and video game *violence* (let's face it -- Jason Bourne kicked some major ass!), but it's *not* okay to see non-violent consensual acts (sex) or hear the words that refer it in the slang (fuck -- there, I said it -- and I'll say it again: FUCK, FUCK, FUCK)... that -- as Kris pointed out -- *every* 13-year-old already knows (in fact, this sounds like a neat item to list on the most impossible scavenger hunt ever -- I'm starting a new thread!)?????

Anna Gregoline | December 28, 2004
Have you tried to talk to your family about their reasoning behind this?

Jackie Mason | December 28, 2004
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John E Gunter | December 28, 2004
Here's my view as to why sex is more taboo than violence.

Most of the founding fathers as it were consisted of a group of up tight religious individuals. I'm generalizing here, so I know I'm not being completely accurate.

But, if you'll remember, most of this country has been frontier, for most of its existence. Especially when compared to Europe. So since we still have this mainly frontier attitude, we accept violence a whole lot easier than we accept sex.

Again, I’m generalizing, but that's how I see it. Which would I rather have? I'd rather have the freedom for each person to peruse their wants, as long as they don't infringe on someone else's right to peruse their wants. Nice concept, but doesn't work in practice.

John

Scott Hardie | December 29, 2004
That is quite a strange arrangement, Amy. Do your parents know about ClearPlay? (link) It sounds like the easy solution for their arrangement, or just a site like Kids-in-Mind (link) that lists the offensive content out of its context, so that you know what's there without any spoilers.

I grew up in a permissive household, though I think it just happened that way and wasn't planned. I wound up censoring the films myself, but averting my own eyes whenever sensitive content came on the screen. Ever since around the middle of high school, though, that stuff hasn't bothered me. I can and have watched a high volume of sexual/violent/obscene content with my mother and not felt a twinge of discomfort. I would hope to take the same policy with own kids, once they're old enough to understand that what is acceptable in a movie is not necessarily acceptable in reality, and your siblings sound like they're right around that age, Amy.

Amy Austin | December 29, 2004
See, I agree -- but I'm not their mom. And I know exactly what you mean about self-censorship, too... I also grew up in a permissive (fairly -- not all holds barred or anything) atmosphere, but I didn't so much enjoy those scenes at that age, either. And even now, they're just sort of *there* -- it's part of the storyline, nothing prurient (IMO) -- and I'm pretty sure that I would *still* get a little squeamish watching it with my parents... just because of the way they are!

Scott Horowitz | December 29, 2004
I hate censorship in any form. I feel coddling people from sex and violence will only make them want to see it more. I've had a TV with HBO in my bedroom since I was 11 years old. My parents explained everything to me, but they didn't hide it from me. What is worse? A child seeing Janet Jackson's bare breast for 2 ms or a 3.5 minute commercial about erectile dysfunction both occuring during the superbowl? At least they understand what a breast is? Try explaining to a 5 year old why Grandpa's penis doesn't work anymore.

Jackie Mason | December 29, 2004
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John E Gunter | December 29, 2004
My knowledge of the founding fathers is somewhat dated, and could be 'wrong' according to what they are teaching these days, but from what I remember, they were against the approved religions of the countries of their or their ancestors origins, not that they weren't religious. That's why we have the separation of church and state, which unless they've changed that translation, meant there wouldn't be a ruling body like the Church of England, controlling the government.

They didn't mean that they didn't believe in God or followed religion. If you're curious about what I mean by that statement, look at your money. At least, look at it as it stands today. That's why "In God we trust" is printed on the money. There are quite a few mentions of a divine being when dealing with things that stand for the country.

The anthem, “God Bless America”. The pledge, "One nation, under God." Plus many other mentions of God when it comes to talking about the country. They just didn't want a religion controlling the government or having the government stating that they were given divine power.

Course, I guess if you didn't follow the approved religion, you could be considered an agnostic, but that doesn't mean you really are.

Remember, the winners write history.

John

Kris Weberg | January 2, 2005
Most of the Founding Fathers were Deists. Washington was Christian. Franklin claims to be religious in his autobiography but refutes religion in his private correspondence; in addition, he published pamphlets advising young men on picking mistresses and had a number of open pre- and extramarital affairs to the point of losing a friend after making too many passes at the man's wife. He was hardly the stuff of the uptight or rigorously faithful. Thomas Jefferson refused to believe in miracles and even printed his own Bible with only the words of Jesus, none of the miracles or commentary. In letters, he described much of religion as ignorant nonsense. James Madison expressed similar sentiments. John Adams signed and endorsed the Treaty of Tripoli, which explicitly and officially states that America is "not a Christian nation," and Congress ratified it with little debate Again, in letters, Adams opposed most organized religion and dismissed many religious practices as superstition. We like to think the Founders weren't like modern politicians, but they funded newspapers that printed disgustingly libelous attacks on one another -- the Federalist/Democratic feuds are legendary for their mudslinging -- and they also weren't above saying things in public that they thought would play well to the masses. Religion, based on their letters as opposed to their speeches, seems to be just such a topic.

These were men of the Enlightenment, more in tune with a kind of mechanical universe that might have been divinely created but certainly didn't require divine intervention. Quite the contrary -- if God were perfect, to the Enlightenment mind, the natural laws He put in place would not admit the perversities of what we'd consider miracle. Likewise, the idea of inalienable rights tied to the nature of man would seem, on the surface, to conflict with the notion of inherent human sinfulness and baseness. If man's nature is free, how could it be at the same time enslaved to sin? Jefferson, Adams, and others repeatedly invoked not Christian beliefs but classical philosophers in describing their philosophies. Aristotle and Cicero, not St. Paul and Moses, were generally the building blocks of their worldview. Certainly classical thinkers and more recent scientific and legal theorists like John Locke or Baron de Montesquieu are cited far more often than are religious figures in most Revolutionary writings. And nowhere is there a specific religious reference in the Declaration of Independence or Constitution: there is mention of a "creator" of the world and of "men," but God, Jesus, and the other terms you'd expect from the strongly religious are nowhere to be found. And those names were a major part of religious discourse -- a look to the writings of the Mather family a generation prior, for example, will attest to that, as will a glance at some of the antiRevolutionary tracts that invoked God against the Founders' cause.

The Founders did not think as religious men of their period. For one thing, the religion of the time was virtually irreconcilable to republican governmental forms, in that American Christianity was strongly Calvinist -- God elects people to positions of wealth and power, not the people -- and European denominations were still largely organs of aristocratic and monarchial legitimacy. The Founders were largely wealthy landowners, many involved heavily in currency speculation -- the stock market of its day, and despite technically owning massive plantations or farms, were closer to being landlords or industrialists than to farmers. In short, they were their time's equivalent of urban elites. That's why they had so much to lose to British efforts to control trade in the colonies for the benefit or British propertyholders. Britian, in point of fact, would have been happy with an America peopled by middle-to-lower-class, pious farmers. They viewed the colonies as rustic producers of raw materials and purchasers of British finished and luxury goods at a trade deficit -- that was the point of a settled colony, profitable export from the mother country and access to cheap resources. B ut this is a bit off the point.

At any rate, the religiosity of the Founders was not all that much. In fact, it was the religion of the average American -- far more pious than a Jefferson or a Franklin -- that informed and probably still informs American political and moral culture to this day. Neither the Pledge of Allegiance nor the various flag customs are fromt he Founders. They date to the late 1800s, as a wave of religious revivalism and a suspicion of the influx of immigrants led to demands for loyalty oaths and homilies to ensure the "American" character of the waves of Irish, Eastern European, and German newcomers. "God Bless America" was not written before 1850. As to the Pledge, the words "under God" were not a part of it until 1955, due to a campaign by the Knights of Columbus, a Catholic patriots' organization. No, God was not a major part of American political discourse for much of this country's first century.

Kris Weberg | January 2, 2005
Shorter, better facts: The Pledge of Allegiance was written in 1892 to celebrate the 400th anniversary of Columbus' discovery of North America. The writer was Francis Bellamy, a Baptists minister and outspoken socialist. The words 'Under God" were added in 1954 after the Knights of Columbus pressured Congress to do so to distinguish America from the "atheistic" Soviet Union.

"God Bless America" was written in 1918 by no less than Irving Berlin, but he cut it from a Broadway show because he felt it was inappropriate for the revue. He released it publicly in 1938 as an anti-Hitler anthem.

So the two primary examples of God linked to American patriotism are both rather late in appearing on the scene.

Kris Weberg | January 2, 2005
Quotes by the Founders about Religion:

"Shake off all the fears of servile prejudices, under which weak minds are serviley crouched. Fix reason firmly in her seat, and call on her tribunal for every fact, every opinion. Question with boldness even the existence of a God, because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason than that of blind faith." -- Thomas Jefferson

"Christianity...(has become) the most perverted system that ever shone on man. ...Rogueries, absurdities and untruths were perpetrated upon the teachings of Jesus by a large band of dupes and imposters led by Paul, the first great corrupter of the teaching of Jesus." --Thomas Jefferson, _Six_Historic_Americans_ by John E. Remsberg

"...our civil rights have no dependance on our religious opnions, any more than our opinions in physics or geometry"--Thomas Jefferson, _Statute_for_Religious_Freedom_, 1779, _The_Papers_of_Thomas_Jefferson_, edited by Julron P. Boyd, 1950, 2:545

"During almost fifteen centuries has the legal establishment of Christianity been on trial. What has been its fruits? More or less, in all places, pride and indolence in the clergy; ignorance and servility in the laity; in both, superstition, bigotry and persecution." -- James Madison,_A_Memorial_ and_Remonstrance, _2000_Years_of_Disbelief_ by James A. Haught

Paine

"I would not dare to so dishonor my Creator God by attaching His name to that book (the Bible)." -- Thomas Paine

"I almost shudder at the thought of alluding to the most fatal example of the abuses of grief which the history of mankind has preserved--the Cross. Consider what calamities that engine of grief has produced!"--John Adams in a letter to Thomas Jefferson

"But how has it happened that millions of fables, tales, legaends, hae been blended with both Jewish and Chiistian revelation that have made them the most bloody religion that ever existed.--John Adams in a letter to F.A. Van der Kamp, Dec. 27, 1816, _2000_Years_of_Disbelief_, John A. Haught

"The divinity of Jesus is made a convenient cover for absurdity. Nowhere in the Gospels do we find a precept for Creeds, Confessions, Oaths, Doctrines, and whole carloads of other foolish trumpery that we find in Christianity." --John Adams

"Lighthouses are more helpful than churches."--Benjamin Franklin, _Poor_Richard_, 1758

"The way to see by faith is to shut the eye of reason."--Benjamin Franklin, _Poor_Richard_, 1758

"I have generally been dominated a Deist, the reality of which I never disputed, being conscious I am no Christian, except mere infant baptism makes me one; and as to being a Deist, I know not strictly speaking, whether I am one or not." --Ethan Allen, Reason the Only Oracle of Man (1784 pamphlet by Allen)

"I cannot conceive otherwise than that He, the Infinite Father, expects or requires no worship or praise from us, but that He is even infinitely above it." -- Benjamin Franklin, _Articles_Of_Belief_and_Acts_of_Religion_, Nov.20, 1728

"I wish it (Christianity) were more productive of good works ... I mean real good works ... not holy day keeping, sermon-hearing ... or making long prayers, filled with flatteries and compliments despised by wise men, and much less capable of pleasing the Deity." -- Benjamin Franklin , _Works_ Vol.VII, p.75

"Religion I found to be without any tendency to inspire, promote, or confirm morality, serves principally to divide us and make us unfriendly to one another."--Benjamin Franklin

"Whenever we read the obscene stories, the voluptuous debaucheries, the cruel and tortuous executions, the unrelenting vindictiveness with which more than half the Bible is filled, it would be more consistent that we call it the word of a demon than the word of God. It is a history of wickedness that has served to corrupt and brutalize [hu]mankind." -- Thomas Paine, _The_Age_of_Reason_

"Of all the tyrannies that affect mankind, tyranny in religion is the worst."--Thomas Paine

Oh, and a quote from the 1797 Treaty of Tripoli: "As the government of the United States is not in any sense founded on the Christian Religion,--as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion or tranquillity of Messelmen, --and as the said States never have entered into any war or act of hostility against any Mohammedan nation, it is declared by the parties that no pretext arising from religious opinion shall ever interupt the harmony existing betweenthe two countries"

Jackie Mason | January 3, 2005
[hidden by request]

Kris Weberg | January 3, 2005
In fairness, Jefferson was definitely the most radical of the Founders. In his letters, he made remarks to the effect that he believed the people should rebel violently against the government every so often. At one point, he and John Adams weren't on speaking terms because of such sentiments regarding Shays's Rebellion.


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