Violent reaction I doubt I’m the only one who talks back to my television set, engages in heated retorts with radio interviewers and their guests, or occasionally screams at my computer screen. I can’t help it. I hear someone being interviewed or giving a speech, and what they’re saying is so far off the mark it’s painful. But the moderator or interviewer just lets it pass… I can’t. So when I hear the absolute absurdity of the "new" debate over violence on television, and calls for government control of both the airwaves and cable (I assume satellite and maybe books, too. Otherwise, our kids might see a copy of Joseph Heller’s "Catch 22" at a neighbor’s house… waaaay too much violence, and sex too) I just have to respond. There are going to be hearings. A bill is being drafted. The "moral" police, whether focusing on violence or sex, are out in force. Yet none of them are really addressing the problem. They are simply calling for more government control and ignoring personal responsibility. If you do just a basic analysis of what they say they want and what is available today, you’ll appreciate that what they should be doing is teaching people how to use what we already have, rather than demanding more problematic government intrusion. So here’s the scenario: you’re watching your local Public Broadcasting station with your 7-year-old. A new series starts on "The Secret Files of the Inquisition." Violence? The most gruesome you can imagine, all done in the name of religion! So now what? Ban the show? Actually it was a highly informative and thought-provoking series. You could talk about it with your kid. Or you could change the channel, or turn off the television. You could set your V-Chip or cable box parental control to not even allow those programs into your home. No, none of that is sufficient, according to the moral police. They want the government to define programming that can only be shown during certain hours (forget that programming is no longer going to be on linear tracks, but available on demand, any time). They want the ultimate solution: a la carte! But wait, how would that work? Don’t buy PBS? It’s a "must carry!" Another of those great government rules. And how would a la carte help the situation? If we were forced to go a la carte, people would have to select which channels they wanted when. And if they guessed wrong, they would then quickly try to "buy" the channel they suddenly wanted, or try to "cancel" the one that was showing a program they didn’t approve of. So how would that work? Well, presumably the technology would develop to turn channels "on" and "off" instantaneously. They would cost more, of course, but then you could "set" your set to show you only the programs you wanted or approved. Hey,… can’t we do that now? It’s called parental controls, and they already exist! So instead of all this nonsense, why don’t those who decry violence (and/or sex) in the media spend their time and money—like the cable industry is—teaching others how to take control of their televisions through the means already available, rather than trying to write yet another law that is doomed to failure? I have no answer for that. But I sure would like to ask them that question when they testify, or are interviewed, or make their demands. I just never hear that (to me) obvious follow-up question! I know. I’m sorry. I’m screaming.

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