Saturday, January 30, 2010

Free Speech Isn't Always Easy To Sort Out

I had a Facebook dialogue prompt this post, centering on Super Bowl ads for CBS' broadcast, where in one case, perfectly good money was refused because of one controversial message, and in another, a different controversial message will be aired. From a Christian Science Monitor article:

Working in a tough advertising climate, CBS surprised many Americans by explaining a new policy on advocacy ads after news emerged that it had agreed to show an antiabortion ad featuring Florida QB Tim Tebow and his mom, Pam.

That decision caused an uproar over the ad itself, the sponsor (the conservative organization Focus on the Family), and the prospect of politics seeping into a three-hour block where most Americans are trying to escape from the daily grind.

But after CBS on Friday rejected a potentially controversial ad from ManCrunch, a Toronto-based gay dating site, it opened itself up for criticism – which came fast and furious. The so-called “man-kiss ad” shows two football fans touching hands over a bowl of potato chips, which then leads, as the ad implies, to a make-out session."

CBS has a problem when they do something like this at the same time as they allow an anti-gay group like Focus on the Family to place ads during the Super Bowl,” says Jarrett Barrios, president of the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD.) “This network should come clean to the public about what's going on because this seems to be a homophobic double standard."

Well, of course it's a double standard. Interested parties certainly should be unhappy with CBS. Complain loudly if you don't like it. Just don't call it censorship or an affront to free speech.

As owner of their channel, CBS has every right in the world to air, or not air, anything it chooses. They have the right to display any bias they wish with their advertising. That is genuine free speech, when the owner of the medium decides. Indeed, the worst case scenario would be that CBS was made to air an ad it didn't wish to. That's worse than censorship. That's fascism, literally, where one owns a property, but is dictated as to its' use.

As for me, I would love to see other broadcast stations take up the ad. Sure, it's not the same as advertising to the largest TV audience of the year. At the same time, the rejection has generated some buzz that would-be advertisers don't usually enjoy more than a week before the big game.

So, here's what all the fuss is about:

Just doing my part to show that ManCrunch hasn't been censored. Gratis.

(The most objectionable part is showing a Packer and Viking fan embracing. Everyone knows that would never happen.)

Update: Apparently, there is an ad that should be every bit as controversial as these, courtesy of Bud Light. Check out this Reason blog post.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Ugly Business In The Indiana Senate

It seems that every year, Indiana's Senate passes a bill that causes me to feel shame about the state I live in- one that recommends a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage.

For one thing, the premise is complete bunk. From the mouth of the author, via the Indy Star:
"Marriage is one of the foundations of our society," said Sen. Carlin Yoder, R-Middlebury, who authored the amendment. "It is something that I firmly believe needs to be protected."

I've never understood, despite a ton of hot air, how a same-sex union threatens marriage. I'm married to my wife, and not once have I felt any suspect inclination that it would come crashing to an end upon hearing that gay people were marrying in California or Massachusetts, or some other state. Nothing affects my marriage, because it is between myself and my wife.

You want to protect marriage, Yoder? Ban divorce.

Better yet, get government out of the business of regulating marriage altogether. Let the churches marry people who want to be married. Let the courts uphold the contracts and agreements made by two people, whether married or not. How hard is that?

Apparently, for Republicans, that's too much to take. They apparently are much happier sticking their nose into people's private lives. Don't be fooled by their rhetoric about smaller government. What a load of crap. Don't let me hear another Republican derisively shout 'socialism'! Physician? Heal thyself!

So, I was especially proud of the Libertarian Party of Indiana, when the party stood up to declare opposition to this bill.

The notion of changing our Constitution to include Senate Joint Resolution 13 is in complete disharmony with the Preamble of this State’s guiding document.

Our Constitution reads, “WE DECLARE, That all people are created equal; that they are endowed by their CREATOR with certain inalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; that all power is inherent in the People; and that all free governments are, and of right ought to be, founded on their authority, and instituted for their peace, safety, and well-being.”

Let me translate for the proponents of SJR-13. Our government was instituted to protect the right of every Hoosier to make decisions as they see fit. Our Constitution was written to protect us from invasive government.

Shame on those members of both the Senate and House that seek to violate the purpose of our Constitution. For all the sign waving by my Republican friends about liberty and socialism, it is striking that they would propose to write into this document discrimination and direct government interference.

Beyond this, the Republicans who promote this nonsense actually make Pat Bauer look like he's got his finger on the pulse of the state. From the Star:
House Speaker B. Patrick Bauer, D-South Bend, said the amendment is unlikely to receive a hearing this year, arguing the state's trial and appeals courts have upheld Indiana's marriage law.

"It's the same old song," Bauer said. "Some people don't have enough to do creating jobs and moving this economy forward, so they think up divisive things."

So, I'm proud of the LPIN, and ashamed of the Republicans. Why could I never get on board with the Republicans? Because they do so many irrelevant and needlessly antagonistic, counterproductive, and oppressive things.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

What The Talk Will Be Tomorrow

Did the President give a speech tonight? Forget about that. Glenn Beck will be all over what Chris Matthews said on MSNBC. It's so egregious that Media Matters posted it up:

I was just remarking the other day what a complete douchebag Chris Matthews is. So it goes.

If Glenn Beck said this, there would be calls for his head and his job. Let's see if there are similar calls for Matthews.

It's just as well. The State of the Union address was what is becoming typical Obama: Great speechifying, little real substance, contradictions and impossibilities within the text, and the masterful deception of making one's own messes appear to have been someone else's doing and cause for alarm/action. Seemed like a campaign speech rather than a report.

What? There's Waste?

On the drive from NYC to Cleveland last week, I saw the highway signs referred to in this CNN article:

A state senator from Ohio says his state is spending $1 million on road signs to advertise the use of stimulus money for road projects. In other words, the state is using your money to tell you it's spending your money.

State Sen. Tim Grendell, R-Ohio, calls it a waste of taxpayer dollars. The road signs he's concerned about display words such as "Project Funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act" Some road projects have two signs, and some don't have any at all, but the signs aren't cheap.

The bigger signs can cost as much as $3,000 each, according to Grendell, who says this is just a big "thank you" to the Obama Administration.

He told CNN, "Send a fruit basket if you want to say 'thank you.' Don't waste a million dollars saying 'thank' you to Washington for giving us back our tax money."

Grendell says the message here is that stimulus dollars are "being spent stupidly."

Ohio's Department of Transportation says that criticism misses the point -- that this is all about transparency.

Oh, it's transparent all right. It's easy to see that money is being flushed down the shitter. Why not just post big signs campaigning for Obama's re-election? Yeah. Send the fruit basket instead. That it is called the 'American Recovery and Reinvestment Act' allows one to see through what a gigantic load of BS it is.

I've seen the same signs in southern Indiana, on I-64 between Louisville and Evansville, if memory serves. My reaction then was that it was more a big gesture of patting onesself on the back. The angle of the waste of it didn't even occur to me. $3,000 per sign? Wow.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Who Says A Libertarian Doesn't Pray For Obama's Success?

Wow. Was just looking over my 2009 tax info. Scary stuff. In 2009, I made half of what I made in 2008, which was half of what I made in 2007. Depressing.

I can't afford to half my income again, so yes, I do pray for Obama's success and a turnaround in the economy. I don't have a lot of faith in the process of repeating so many Bush mistakes that got me and so many others to this point, but I have to hold out hope, don't I?

Kind of funny, but I really long for the days when I would write a check to cover my taxes that went above my withholding. Haven't 'had the pleasure' in waaaaay too long.

NFL All-Star Game A Joke

None of the pro sports has an all-star game more irrelevant than the NFL. It was bad enough that the league used to host the game after the Super Bowl, so as to be anti-climactic. Now the game is hosted the week before the Super Bowl, assuring that nobody from the two best teams in the league will play.

I mean, why would anyone want to see Drew Brees, or Peyton Manning, or six other Colts play, right? Check out this article for yuks.

All other sports host their games mid-season. I know the NFL is rightly concerned about injuries occurring during an exhibition game. Why not just have a skills competition? The NHL does it, and it's every bit as entertaining, or moreso, than the actual all-star game.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Back From New York

I spent the better part of last week in New York City, helping my friend Steve move. The City is still fun for me, but it appeals to me a lot less than it once did. I'm sure having two little kids at home makes Indiana more appealing than NYC, but there were trends I noticed that I didn't like.

The City is getting dirty again. I noticed a lot more litter everywhere I went.

The panhandling is increasing. Several times, people got on the train for the sole purpose of loudly announcing their personal tale of woe, and trying to pull the heart strings & purse strings. I hadn't seen this in more than 10 years.

Then, after going to a great Indian restaurant, the Jackson Diner in Jackson Heights- one an Indiana recommended to me- I realized that there is an Indian restaurant every bit as good in Fishers (India Sizzling).

I love the full-on ethnic diversity in places like Jackson Heights, in Queens. Indiana positively lacks this. But the tradeoffs? Noise, foul smells, dog crap on every sidewalk, hellish traffic, crowded slow trains, high prices... Feh.

Had a great exchange with a receptionist at the Museum of American Finance, on Wall Street. We got to talking and it came out that I am from Indiana. With the Jets-Colts game coming up, it went like this:

Her: Are you ready for the big game?
Me: What big game?
Her: What do you mean, 'what big game'? My Jets and your Colts!
Me: (Ignoring that they aren't 'ours') Big game? That's in three weeks.
Her: What's the matter with you? The game is this Sunday.
Me: Yeah, but that's not the big game. The Super Bowl is in three weeks. The Jets are a nice tune-up for the Colts.
Her: Uh, hey!

Good museum. Indiana also lacks the sheer volume and range of museums NYC has, and I couldn't have had this banter here at home. Still- nice place to visit, but no longer any desire to live there.