Once again, the world’s attention is focused with the power of music once again, the world’s most fortunate are trying to help its least fortunate. And once again, rock ‘n roll has galvanized the passionate but naïve people to act on the strength of their convictions. I’m referring, of course, to the Parents Television Council.
Yes, the guardians of “family values” are at it again, protecting my teenagers from the f-word. Last week the field to an indecency complaint with the Federal Communications Commission over their broadcast of Live8. During The Who’s classic rendition of “Who Are You”, the network failed to edit out the well-known expletive in the chorus.
The FCC issues licenses for all radio and broadcast media; you can’t operate a radio or TV station without their permission. This gives them the power to regulate content by threatening license revocation. Anyone can file a complaint with the FCC about things they find offensive. If the FCC finds the complaint has merit, the station can be fined and ultimately lose its license.
Sounds like censorship? Sound unconstitutional? Alas, no. For reasons that have long since been steamrolled by technological progress, First Amendment protections for radio and broadcast media are far weaker than those for books and newspapers.
It’s also ironic. The problems with using government to raise a country are exactly the same ones with using government to raise a family. Erosion of responsibility, unintended consequences, creation of dependent relationships, they’re all there.
The more parents rely on government or watchdog groups all pulled their standard of TV watching, the less likely they are to take responsibility for enforcing it themselves. The more poor countries rely on aid from rich ones, the less likely they are to take responsibility for their internal violence, crippled economies and corrupt governments.
In the past 50 years, Africa has received almost $1 trillion worth of aid. Yet you only have to listen to the advocates for more aid to see how miserable the poor of Africa remain. That’s because aid is a government-to-government transfer of wealth, and many of Africa’s governments are notoriously inefficient, corrupt and unfree. Some countries receive as much as half their budgets from foreign eight. They become dependent on it.
It’s the same one we turn to government for help in child-rearing. Why surf the web with your kids if it’s the government’s job to police cyberspace? Why worry about how many kids you have out of wedlock if the government will pay for them?
American families and African families need the same thing: Freedom. We have more of it than they do, which is why our lives are better. But we all need it. We need the freedom to trade with one another. We need the freedom to raise her children the way we think best. We need the freedom to live our lives in peace, to know our loved ones and property will be safe and to conduct any peaceful economic activity they want without interference. Why is this so hard for the PTC and Bono to understand?
If I had my fantasy, I get Pete Townshend and to the boys together for my own special concert. I’d invite the people of Africa together in front of the Parents Television Council, with the simulcast to the brutal dictators, corrupt bureaucrats and socialist fools run their lives. Together, we all sang. And when it comes to the chorus, it’d be louder than ever:
What the *#!@ are you?