Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Flash Your Breasts, Go to Jail
Representative F. James Sensenbrenner of Wisconsin has decided how to fight broadcast indecency--make it a criminal offense instead of a civil one. He told cable industry executives this week:
People who are in flagrant disregard should face a criminal process rather than a regulator process. That is the way to go. Aim the cannon specifically at the people committing the offenses, rather than the blunderbuss approach that gets the good actors. The people who are trying to do the right thing end up being penalized the same way as the people who are doing the wrong thing.
There's a couple shovels full of organic fertilizer there. I think the first part, aiming at the people who commit the offenses, would send Howard Stern or Janet Jackson to the big house. As to what the second part, about getting the good actors and how the people who are trying to do the right thing are getting penalized, well, nobody knows what that means. Not even Sensenbrenner, who, when asked to clarify, could only repeat himself.

To Sensenbrenner's credit, he did tell cable execs he's opposed to attempts by some in his party to extend indecency regulations to cable and satellite--but he acknowledges that if Congress chooses to strike now, it's likely to approve an expansion of the blue nose of the law. And as head of the House Judiciary Committee, he'll help decide whether and how hard Congress strikes. Not that anybody should get their hopes up. Sensenbrenner was in full accord with the Republican leadership's Schiavo shenanigans, and he represents the wingnuttiest part of Wisconsin, the western and northern suburbs of Milwaukee--so policing the virtue of other people comes naturally.

This story gives me an excuse to send a shout out to Jay Bullock in Milwaukee, whose splendid blog, Folkbum's Rambles and Rants, has covered Sensenbrenner's antics in the past, and who links to this blog--a link I'm happy to reciprocate. Jay's started up a separate blog on Sensenbrenner alone, Sensenbrennerwatch.com, which has for its motto what must be the Wisconsin political quote of the year: "F. Jim Sensenbrenner before he F's you."

A shout out also to Max (who, despite living in same Milwaukee suburbs represented by F. Jim, is not a wingnut) for sending along this from the St. Petersburg Times last week--columnist Robert Friedman on the Schiavo affair, and some of his wishes should he find himself in a persistent vegetative state one day. Favorite quote:
I want my case to be turned into a circus by losers and crackpots from around the country who hope to bring meaning to their empty lives by investing the same transient emotion in me that they once reserved for Laci Peterson, Chandra Levy and that little girl who got stuck in a well.
Me, too. In fact, I'd like the little girl who got stuck in a well to come and weep in person, if it's not too much to ask.

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