Liars and Bullies

Some CBS affiliates are refusing to air an award-winning 9/11 documentary next week, citing concerns about FCC violations, because of “some of the language used by the firefighters in it,” even though the documentary has already aired twice without controversy.

And while in some cases, these concerns may be genuine, the AP reports that “Sinclair Broadcasting became the latest company to say it was delaying the broadcast until after 10 p.m. on its stations in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and Portland, Maine, saying it was concerned it could face fines,” without even a passing mention that Sinclair Broadcasting was responsible for airing an irresponsible anti-Kerry film before the election and refusing to air Ted Koppel’s tribute to fallen soldiers (which consisted of reading their names). Clearly, Sinclair has an agenda that aligns rather snugly with the administration’s, who abhor any reference to 9/11 that hasn’t been twisted into a celebratory cheer of Bush’s leadership or a grave warning about voting for Democrats. A documentary that looks frankly at the horror of the day certainly doesn’t fit the bill. Reporting Sinclair’s decision without this context is utterly pathetic.

Meanwhile, the affiliates who might honestly be concerned about FCC fines only have reason to be concerned because, as FCC spokeswoman Tamara Lipper says, “We don't police the airwaves. We respond to viewer complaints,” and the odious American Family Association, which is nothing more than a hate group dressed up in religious garb, has threatened to generate those complaints.

[T]he Tupelo, Miss.-based American Family Association readied its 3 million members to flood the FCC and CBS with complaints after the documentary airs.

"This isn't an issue of censorship. It's an issue of responsibility to the public," said Randy Sharp, director of special projects for the group, which describes itself as a 29-year-old organization that promotes the biblical ethic of decency.
And, apparently, according to the biblical ethic of decency, a firefighter who curses during the most heinous terrorist attack on American soil is a sinner who needs to be censored. Of course, this is total bullshit, too. The AFA operates on the Siegel Principle—self-righteousness is more important than actual righteousness—and is quite happy to intimidate CBS affiliates under the pretense of objecting to language, because conservative political leaders (who don’t like 9/11 reminders unless they emanate from their own lips) pursue legislation that the AFA wants, like “marriage protection” amendments. The obvious solution to knowing a documentary will be airing that might be in conflict with “the biblical ethic of decency” is to warn their members not to watch, but instead, they’re using the excuse of decency to behave like bullies and protect their political allies.

And network affiliates are giving in, and the media reports it without so much as a nod at the political alliances at work. The inmates are truly running the asylum.

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