After Thanksgiving dinner I sat down and reflected on the greatest gift in my life, my family. I also started thinking about this industry, which has also been very good to me. Sitting there, I found myself offering thanks for a number of things, a few of which in the spirit of the holiday I tried to look at in a positive light. For example: I’m thankful to O.J. Simpson for serving as a touchstone for my life. Like the "Seinfeld" episode in which George does the opposite of everything his instincts tell him to do, as both a father and a black man, I look at everything O.J. does and realize the exact opposite is how I would like to live my life. After all, I’d rather die than be an African American who is black only when it behooves him to be black, or a father willing to accept money for a television special that would force his children to relive the most unimaginable horror of all. I’m thankful for all those Fox affiliates, many of them from tiny markets, who had the guts to stand up and say they were not going to run the O.J. special anyway; a grassroots protest that actually worked. And I ask all my brothers and sisters on the operating side of the cable business, why is it when all these small broadcast stations were drawing a line in the sand and saying, "enough," you all sat there on your hands and said nothing? Look, I know at some point first amendment protection might be important to your business interests, but "don’t ask, don’t tell" doesn’t fly in the world of content distribution. And shame on you for so blindly stepping so incredibly far over the line of human decency that you’d have to actually look behind you to find it. I’m thankful that Fox, a network that at one point actually thought this special would be a good idea, received a double whammy for their willingness to sink to yet another record low on the sleaze scale. Normally a show like this would get very bad press and very good ratings. But somehow—and I cannot tell you how thankful I am for this—Fox managed to hit the daily double: all the bad press and none of the financial benefits. I’m thankful that Michael Richards was able to remind people of color everywhere how much easier racism is to deal with when it’s in your face. When someone tells you that years ago, he could have you swinging at the end of a rope, you know where you stand with him. It’s just like a few years ago when Trent Lott let us momentarily peek behind the curtain of his public persona. I’m also thankful to Jerry Seinfeld for reminding us that at the end of the day it’s money, not principle, that drives who we are as a society. After all, why would Seinfeld want to get anywhere near Richards during the worst of the fallout of his remarks? Because they’re friends? Maybe that was part of it, but only part. After all, the syndication rights to "Seinfeld" are a cash cow, and the guy who owns those rights was doing all he could to protect them. And finally, I’m thankful that as we descend upon New York for the last major cable event of the year—the 2006 NAMIC Holiday Gala—there won’t be any lack of conversation topics because of people like Simpson, Richards and the Fox programming department. In fact, Symonds says we can just skip the small talk and get right down to it. Curtis Symonds can be reached at curtissymonds@yahoo.com.

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