L. Neil Smith's
Number 389, October 15, 2006

Genuine libertarianism is the opposite of an ideology.
It's the absence of ideology.


Where Art Thou, FCC?
by Jonathan David Morris

Special to The Libertarian Enterprise

Dear Utterly Useless Commissioners of the Federal Communications Commission:

I'm sorry. I thought we paid you the big bucks to clean up the airwaves—not to sit around, sucking your thumbs all day. In case you haven't noticed, reality TV is a threat so real I can taste it. Where art thou, FCC? Are you not watching?

I first noticed how bad things were getting a couple of months ago, when NBC introduced the sickest, most culturally destructive show I could have imagined. That show was called Deal or No Deal, and it starred Howie Mandel.

I didn't think it could get any worse than that program. But then NBC raised the bar and lowered the common denominator. As it turns out, their latest so-called reality show is twice as sinister. It's called To Catch a Predator, and it stars Stone Phillips and Ann Curry (formerly of Dateline).

Here's how it works: Each week, the show visits a different city, sending its staff members online to pose as young boys and girls. Tiptoeing through chatrooms, using poor grammar and strange words like "kewl," these staff members lure their contestants—usually grown men—to visit the set with sexual promises. When they arrive, six packs of Corona and condoms in tow, the men are given the Ashton Kutcher treatment. Cameramen jump out from deep in the shadows. The men are then scolded, and then, as a parting gift, policemen await to wrestle them to the ground.

This is sick.

To me, it was obvious America was headed in the wrong direction when ABC first debuted Who Wants to be a Millionaire? But at least back then we were watching randomly chosen contestants compete for unattainable sums of money. Now? I guess fabulous cash prizes just aren't enough for us capitalist pigs anymore. Today's reality TV contestants compete for sex with kids that they don't even know. What kind of message does this send to our children?

To make matters worse, To Catch a Predator is like that movie, Quiz Show, all over again. Only this time it's real. The contest is rigged; contestants can never obtain the underage sex they are after. And they can't even save face by winning the lightning round: Once they flee the set, cops jump them with guns drawn. Are we supposed to be rooting for these men to get away?

The way I see it, FCC, this country has a lot of problems. I shouldn't have to ignore those problems, and yet I do, because I am focusing on this show. We should be busy fighting terror, fixing the economy, and applying HeadOn directly to our foreheads. Instead, we are watching Stone Phillips wheeze his way through a talk of "Perverted Justice"—all while those greedy NBC fat cats get fatter on my lucky dime.

There's a time and a place for child pornography, and that time and place is a Baby, One More Time-era Britney Spears concert. Make primetime network TV safe for grizzly crime dramas, FCC. America needs you. Enough of this reality filth.

Someone Who Cares

P.S.: I had more stuff to say to you, but I forgot most of it, because I was really mad.

Jonathan David Morris writes from Philadelphia. He can be reached at jdm@readjdm.com.


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