by Jan Baughman
(Swans - February 28, 2005) As the world becomes a more and more evil place, our efforts to purify its citizens' deeds and thoughts take on a paramount importance. And with an already strained and off-the-books budget, one has to get creative. In a brilliant move to clean up the airwaves and at the same time raise money, the House of Representative recently passed the Broadcast Indecency Act (H.R. 310). One accidental slip of the breast or tongue could earn the government up to $1,000,000 ($500,000 from the caretaker of the offending body part, and $500,000 from the company that pays the dirty deed doer.) Why, each errant "fuck" could fund 7.2 minutes of the Iraq war! And given that the government has yet to define "indecency" for would-be offenders, the possibilities are endless. Blasphemy could bring a tithe of $100,000; take the name of George W. Bush in vain: $250,000; broadcast an antiwar demonstration: another million for the war efforts.
The beauty of a sin tax is that it is not counted as a tax increase, at least not for the wealthy puritans who will, in their piety, escape its wrath and continue to support the cause. Who needs war bonds when we have the English language at our disposal? Watch for the Internet to be redefined as a "broadcast" medium...
One could probably save Social Security, the threat du jour, with indecency fines; or the fines could provide much needed sign-on bonuses for all those reluctant enlistees required to fuel the expansion of our democracy-spreading wars. The Marine Corps is faced with offering re-enlistment bonuses of $35,000 -- no short change to a high school graduate with no alternatives, and hell, one prime-time "hell" could fund it!
Now, what to do about this culture in which violence in videogames, television and movies desensitizes kids to killing and maiming, thereby creating a generation ripe for war-mongering and torture without consequence? If we censor the war propaganda, we stand to loose even more recruits. Parents need the movie rating system to know what their children should see, yet they are apparently an increasing impediment to their kids enlisting in the military.
Enter the new documentary, "Gunner Palace," initially rated R for "harsh" language. The documentary was filmed at one of Odai Hussein's mansions, where American soldiers fight from within the palatial spread, replete with swimming pool, providing the ideal backdrop for a "Join the Army, See the World" enticement. Suddenly, the war experience in its vulgarity is changed to a PG rating; the film's distributor, Andy Robbins of Palm Pictures, purportedly argued that "the U.S. military has 'unrestricted' access to America's teenagers for recruitment purposes...A part of the Bush administration's No Child Left Behind Act makes federal funding for schools contingent upon military recruiters having access to students' addresses and phone numbers." As the film's director, Michael Tucker, said, "We need to be adult about this. These are young soldiers in combat. There is an array of emotion. And I think this is appropriate for some teens to see." Expletives be damned -- they serve as an enticement. No child should be left behind, when they could be all that they could be.
In the end, just like with pornography, you know indecency when you see it. But the definition of indecency depends on who's marketing it and who's consuming it. So freedom of speech will always have its price, and as always, the least deserving have to pay it.