Saturday, January 30, 2010

Somehow the delicate sensibilities of bigots and right-wing activists have become a right that trumps all other public interests


Focus on the Family's 30-second Super Bowl spot hasn't been released but is known to feature 2007 Heisman Trophy-winning University of Florida QB Tim Tebow expressing thanks that his mother chose not to abort him -- a private family decision that you'd like to think wouldn't be anybody else's business, not to mention irrelevant to the agonizing decision other women face. CBS can't understand why anyone's upset that the network has broken the long-standing ban on Super Bowl advocacy ads for this.

"To recap: CBS wouldn't allow a group to criticize Bush, wouldn't let a religious group promote its own tolerance of LGBT families and considers a light-hearted dating ad out of bounds. But CBS is perfectly happy to allow Focus on the Family to promote its conservative social agenda."
-- from Credo Action's campaign to persuade CBS to reject
Focus on the Family's pro-choice Super Bowl commercial

by Ken

Poor CBS. The Super Bowl, now just a week away, is supposed to be nothing but a cash-generating bonanza. As the commercial rates go up and up, even in a crappy economy there seems to be no difficulty selling all that time.

But when there's so much money on the table, you can be sure there are going to be problems. As you've surely heard, CBS has gotten its balls caught in a bad squeeze over the issue of advertising acceptance and what is or isn't "within the Network's broadcast standards for Super Bowl Sunday," by breaking its own -- and every other network's -- long-standing rule against advocacy advertising on the Super Bowl.

CBS: Don't air anti-abortion Super Bowl ad

The broadcast networks that air the Super Bowl have historically rejected advocacy ads. Yet CBS, which is airing the Super Bowl this year, has accepted an anti-choice ad by the ultra-conservative group Focus on the Family.

Focus on the Family's "celebrate life" (read: anti-choice) ad features Heisman Trophy-winning college football star Tim Tebow. And CBS approved this anti-choice ad, even though the network has repeatedly rejected advocacy ads in past years including a 2004 ad that went after then-President Bush's fiscal irresponsibility and an ad the same year from the United Church of Christ showing them welcoming a gay couple who had been turned away from another church.

Sign the petition to CBS insisting they follow their no-advocacy policy and reject the Focus on the Family ad before the Super Bowl on February 7.

More recently, on Friday CBS rejected an ad from a gay dating site showing two men discovering a mutual attraction when their hands brush in the potato chip bowl. The actors then pantomime a comical make-out session. But CBS says the ad "is not within the Network's broadcast standards for Super Bowl Sunday."

So to recap: CBS wouldn't allow a group to criticize Bush, wouldn't let a religious group promote its own tolerance of LGBT families and considers a light-hearted dating ad out of bounds. But CBS is perfectly happy to allow Focus on the Family to promote its conservative social agenda.

We must call CBS out on its hypocrisy and demand that it also reject the Focus on the Family ad. The Super Bowl is America's annual most-watched television event; more than 98 million Americans tuned in last year. And as anyone who's ever been to a Super Bowl party knows, the ads can be even more closely watched than the game, which is why CBS must not unfairly allow anti-choice commercials while rejecting those for other causes.

Sign the petition today urging CBS to follow its own anti-advocacy policy, reverse the decision, and deny Focus on the Family's anti-choice ad.

What really alarms me here is that we now seem to have enshrined a double standard for "acceptability" at both the corporate and the judicial level: What's "acceptable" in advertising or other decisions involving competing claims for respect is who stands to be offended.

In case after case, such decisions, whether made by corporations or courts, seem based on the premise that there's one segment of the American public whose rights, not to mention feelings and beliefs, can be trampled on with utter impunity, with hardly even a second though, while there's another segment of the American public whose delicate sensibilities must always be protected.

It seems to underlie court decisions as to whose privacy must be protected when it comes to making public personal information about issue-campaign donors. (The privacy rights of crusading bigots get a whole lot of respect, while the efforts of people to secure equal treatment under the law are sneered at.) Or again, the Supreme Court's (predictably 5-4) decision struck down Judge Vaughn Walker's plan to experiment, as permitted by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, with limited video coverage of the trial of the constitutionality of Prop 8 seems to have come down to the need to protect the privacy of God-fearing American bigots who would be taking the stand to defend continued legal institutionalization of their bigotry. Apparently they're willing to testify, but they're afraid of being seen doing so, and once again the delicate sensibilities of safely-in-the-box bigots trumps all other public interests.

Whether its private citizens like the CBS censors or legal hoodlums like the Supreme Court majority, there seem to me to be two processes at work, and they're both hateful and unacceptable.

(1) It takes literally no thought to discriminate against people or ideas that are outside the box of orthodoxy.

When you discriminate reflexively against groups or classes of people other than your own, or against ideas that are different from your own, just because you don't have to think about it doesn't make it not discrimination. After all, that's the level on which most discrimination and bigotry occurs.

People don't stop to think, "If I prefer not to offer this person a job, or allow him/her to rent an apartment, or patronize my business establishment, or date my daughter, because of the person's skin color or religion or sexual orientation or political beliefs, that would be bigoted, but dang it all, I'm going to do it anyways." Well, maybe sometimes they do, but by and large that's now the way discrimination and bigotry are accomplished.

If your words or actions are discriminatory or bigoted, it doesn't matter whether you planned it that way; it doesn't matter whether you thought about it for weeks or didn't give it a moment's thought -- it's still discriminatory or bigoted. This seems so blindingly obvious that I'm almost embarrassed to have to point it out, but an awful lot of people either have forgotten it or never knew it. When, for example, you discriminate on the basis of, say, race, your action really and truly doesn't have to be accompanied by a sworn affidavit saying, "I sure as s--t hates me them effin' N-words," to qualify as discrimination.

(2) There's hardly any price to pay for causing offense to non-orthodox people or ideas, while causing offense to orthodox people or ideas can bring you worlds of unwanted attention and even economic distress.

And the defenders of orthodoxy work very hard to make sure that this is as true as they can make it. When the people in charge of accepting or rejecting TV advertising, for example, reject content that will offend only people they see as "dirty fucking hippie" types while accepting content that will offend people who are known to organize dangerously loud and disruptive countermeasures or to actually jeopardize their revenue streams by pressuring customers or advertisers or the like, it's understandable but not OK, ethically or (one hopes) legally.

Today's defenders of discrimination and bigotry have become sophisticated enough to claim that they're just protecting everyone's First Amendment rights. But of course usually that's exactly what they're not doing. They're "protecting the rights" of people and ideas they either agree with or are afraid of, while cavalierly dismissing protections for people and ideas they don't agree with or fear. The whole point of the First Amendment is to protect unpopular or non-mainstream ideas. Orthodox ideas don't often need protection.

As I said, both of these thought processes seem to me repugnant to any concept of fairness and/or decency, and as far as I can see, neither has any foundation or even measure of acceptability in law. They need to be stopped.

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At 7:54 PM, Blogger 44445252 said...

I think you 're taking the wrong approach - if you want CBS' attention ask for a boycott of 60 Minutes or whatever show they will overhype during the Super Bowl

At 8:22 PM, Blogger KenInNY said...

Just to be clear, 4444etc., I'm not much on those petitions either, but I don't see that Credo Action's can do any harm, so I was happy to pass their plan on.

What you suggest certainly makes sense, but my own feeling is that the only real hope is if somebody at a high enough level at CBS comes to his/her senses and realizes that they've unintentionally waged a battle that can't do them any good. The problem there is, with an outfit like Focus on the Family, I'm not sure they can all that gracefully extricate themselves.

I think it can be done, though, by just biting the bullet and explaining to the Focusteers that the network's flunkies screwed up, they don't take advocacy ads for the Super Bowl, have a nice day, end of discussion.


At 3:22 AM, Blogger libhom said...

I think CBS' pandering to misogyny, homophobia, and anti American religious extremism will hasten the trend of people to transition from TV to the Internet.

At 6:40 AM, Blogger KenInNY said...

I hear you, L, and that's why I'm thinking maybe somebody at CBS will pull the plug on this stupid deal, realizing they can only lose on it.

After all, how many people are going to suddenly tune into crappy CBS shows because they remember it's the network that's really glad the cute Gator QB boy didn't get aborted? As against the number of people who will remember CBS staking its claim to be the Home of Hate, and tune out accordingly.


At 9:51 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Abortion is murder, plain and simple.....

At 12:48 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

As opposed to signing "KeninNY"....

I never fail to be impressed as how fast the "progressives" lapse into hate speech; must be a sign of that "working brain" of yours.

I'm not trying to sway you, just tell you what abortion is. BUt you already knew that, didn't you?

At 6:42 PM, Anonymous Bil said...


I don't think you want too waste to much time on these anonymousie Wankers, because as we all know here at DWT, Every sperm is Sacred, and that would make them Mass Murders.


At 7:11 AM, Blogger KenInNY said...

You're right, of course, Bil. I'm just thinking that one reason we're living in a world set against a soundtrack of screeching lies and psychosis like this doody-sucking imbecile's garbage is the failure to answer back when they open their lying traps.



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