Monday, January 19

I thought I told you this world is not for you
Freedom of speech is a pretty potent illusion. We all know that. All you Mass Comm majors have watched that Bill Moyers investigative piece about the price of free speech. You know, the one with the hog farms in it.

Well, CBS has decided to refuse to air an anti-Bush ad during the SuperBowl. It's the winner of a Bush in 30 seconds contest sponsored by MoveOn, a leftist advocacy group. MoveOn raised the millions it takes to place an ad during the SuperBowl, but CBS has said they will not run it because they have a policy against running political issue ads. (The ad, for the record, can be viewed here. It features children working adult jobs -- maids, dishwashers, etc. -- and a simple black placard that says "Guess who will pay for Bush's [insert exact number] deficit?") Clearly, this is complete bullshit. The SuperBowl this year is going to feature an anti-drug ad, an anti-smoking ad, and a PSA about AIDS.

Of course, CBS (and the other networks) find it completely acceptable (and profitable!) to run ads for Viagra, Dodge, Pepsi and other ultimately useless and frivolous products so that American consumers will be certain to have received their maximum daily intake of shameless materialism. But the network's refusal to air an ad that furthers public discourse on issues that actually matter is grounds for action by those who see this as an affront to our American values -- which prize free speech and the fabled marketplace of ideas.

It is unacceptable for this country to harbor an atmosphere in which the public airwaves are not an outlet for freedom of expression. I strongly encourage those concerned for the future of political discourse and free speech to write to CBS and denounce their actions. And I will be boycotting them indefinitely, and certainly won't watch the SuperBowl -- either for the idiotic game or the even more insipid commercials it houses.

It's also interesting to note that the major network news programs have steered clear of covering this story. At least, I haven't seen any coverage. I saw a piece on Salon and a quick 30-second blitz on Crossfire today, but that's it. I can't imagine why this wouldn't be news -- why this wouldn't matter to the American public. But I imagine that, in time, the buzz will quiet down and the networks can go back to accepting money from all kinds of advertisers who want nothing more than to peddle their ridiculous wares to a fat, complacent, depressed American public that really doesn't care anymore.

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