A new Federal Trade Commission report says what most parents
concerned about the bombardment on their children of filth, smut, and
gore (no pun intended) by the entertainment industry have known for
years: the stuff is harming our kids.
No fooling. It doesn’t take a genius — or a government agency — to
figure that one out. Nevertheless, the information is valuable because
at least it supports what many parents have known or suspected about the
entertainment industry for some time.
Now, what’s to be done about it? And who should do it? As most of us
realize, actually doing something about a problem takes more
energy than complaining about it.
However, as my priest tells me time and again, it is the
action of a parent that has more influence than anything else
over children. You can “talk” about the “evils” of today’s post-modern
entertainment industry, but if you keep letting kids buy, watch, or play
the crap that passes out of the industry into the mainstream, there
isn’t much our kids are going to “learn” from that.
Except that it’s OK to buy, watch or play the crap we parents are
merely complaining about.
On the heels of this new FTC report, however, come the presidential
candidates to tell us what we long knew — that Hollywood and its
co-conspirators in the music and video game industries — are corrupting
our kids and that we “ought to do something about it.” Bolstered by the
FTC report, both Bush and Gore have already begun to use the new data to
stump for votes and to show parents that they “care about our kids.”
For his part, Democratic presidential nominee Al Gore has already
said he would support new laws and regulations that would “force”
entertainment industry moguls to stop targeting our children and produce
content that is more family-friendly, amenable to traditional moral
conduct, and less likely to make grandma puke when she sees it.
That’s all well and good, but constitutionally speaking, it is
illegal as hell. There are no constitutional mandates that give
presidents, Congress, and leviathan federal agencies the power to tell
media and entertainment moguls what they can and cannot produce, or who
they can and cannot market their products to.
In fact, the whole Gore position on this so far reminds me of the
government-sponsored attacks on tobacco and guns — legal businesses
that some group of faceless federal activists have “deemed” harmful to
our health and thus, within the parameters of big government regulatory
authority. The thinking is, those of us out here in “flyover country”
don’t have a clue as to how best to take care of ourselves, so some
federal agency must do it for us.
Bull feathers. That’s what wrong with this country — too many
federal goofballs who, thanks to an errant Congress, believe they have
the power to control our lives. This isn’t China or the Soviet Union –
If America is going to do anything about this “problem” that we’ve
all known about for years, then it must come from us — not Uncle
Sam. We — and not the Federal Trade Commission — should have the
ultimate power of decision over whether we will or will not condone such
material that is definitely being targeted at our teens.
It should be up to mom and dad, not the Justice Department, as to
what little Sally or Johnny read, play, watch, or listen to when in the
privacy of their rooms in our homes.
The mere mention by Gore that he wants to use the increasingly
burdensome and oppressive power of the federal government to force
morality on a society that can dictate its own morals is scary and
dangerous. Who decides what is “bad” and what is “good”? Now you get the
As a parent, most MTV programs are off-limits to my kids. I monitor
their computer chat room sessions. If I hear one cuss word in a music
CD, I own it — and then the city waste department gets it. And as for
content in movies, if it won’t pass parental muster, they aren’t
Such parental control takes time and effort, to be sure, but that’s
what parents are supposed to do. Our kids are our
responsibility — not Gore’s, Bush’s, or the Federal Trade Commission’s.
Make no mistake — most of what the entertainment industry produces
these days is, in no uncertain terms, garbage. It lacks
creativity, it lacks morality (as do those who produce it), and it lacks
decency. But some of it is good, and it is all protected
by the First Amendment — as it should be.
Gore, as a parent and presidential candidate, has every right to
voice his opinion about the kind of stuff put out these days by the
entertainment industry. He has no right, however, to “mandate”
compliance using unauthorized and un-delegated powers to get his point
of view accepted.
As president, either Gore or GOP nominee George W. Bush could and
probably should use the bully pulpit of the White House to call for
better and more family-friendly content from these warped and deranged
individuals in the “entertainment” industry.
The “policy,” however, should be enacted by the power of the purse
strings, pulled only by parents and consumers who, with their dollars,
will send a clearer message that “enough is enough.”