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Good Morning Nanty Glo!
            Friday, Movember 7 2003 

Jon Kennedy, webmaster

Boycotts and censorship

One of the big news sagas this week was the controversy over the planned Reagan miniseries commissioned by the CBS network for showing later this month, and cancelled after portions of the two-part movie were leaked by the New York Times and the Drudge Report, causing a public uproar. The details of how the script savaged the former President and presented outright lies about his character and stands on issues, and the controversy, have been widely over-reported so it's not today's topic. However, the subtopic of boycotts and their relationship with censorship has emerged from this controversay and I'll put in my two cents on that two-pronged subject.

Though there was much talk about boycotting the miniseries, and possibly CBS more generally, and threatening to boycott any major advertisers on the sweeps period "special," some longtime friends and backers of the former President said they couldn't advocate such a boycott. They "couldn't support censorship," they were quoted as saying, though they agreed that the planned dramatization was outrageous.

First, a boycott is not censorship. Censorship can only be imposed by people who have power to prevent others from seeing something they want to see, or say something they want to say, read—or publish—something they want to read or make available to others. A boycott is using your own discretion to not watch something you don't think worth your time. Boycotting, to the extent that it affects other possible viewers of a program like the one in question, is bringing public opinion to bear, exercising our rights, and I'd even say our responsibility, to express our disapproval when we disapprove. And I would say that when we approve a program or a stand by a commercial entity, we should support those by giving those our time and business.

Censorship is one of my favorite topics; I treat it in my other website, Xnmp, almost every week. Schools, courts, town councils can and do exercise censorship frequently, especially against Christians and purveyors of "politically incorrect" opinions, like Bedford council's, in its ordinance applied in the Jesus sign controversy a few months ago; like the Indiana-Armstrong County school district that suspended a teacher's aide for wearing a cross to work and who had to sue (successfully, I might add) to get her job and her first amendment rights to expression and religion restored. But a consumer boycott is not censorship. It's a form of censure, but that's an entirely different word and a different concept.

But if you see a commercial enterprise, whether it's Disney Corp. presenting 2000-year-old lies about Jesus as "news" through ABC-TV, K-mart selling smut through its bookstores division, or CBS broadcasting outright lies about a dying former President —or anyone perpetrating any injustice in the name of their self-interest and profits— you have a moral obligation to withhold your support. It's the least you can do as part of, as they used to say when I was in the Methodist Church, your stewardship, to take a stand. And you're perfectly within your rights, and your responsibilities, to encourage others to join you in withholding business. And if you're successful enough to get an enterprise to cease and desist, as CBS has decided to do with the Reagan hatcheting, that's democracy in action, not censorship.

Webmaster Jon Kennedy

Fun facts (or "facts," so it says, but take with a grain)

A shark is the only fish that can blink with both eyes.

The average secretary's left hand does 56 percent of the typing.

—Sent by Trudy Myers 

Thought for today

The truth of the matter is that you always know the right thing to do. The hard part is doing it.

— Norman Schwarzkopf
Sent by Judy Rose 

Top daily news stories linked from our sister webpage
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