Berkeley Daily Planet
Weekend, July 20-21, 2002
TV is not kid safe
To the Editor:
I was just informed by Council member Dona Spring that she will
recommend at the next City Council meeting (Tuesday, July 23rd) that
the Council not adopt the proposed measure to regulate "indecent"
material on Berkeley Community Cable TV due to constitutional and
This is very good news because the ordinance is an extremely
dangerous adventure in censorship aimed on limiting the audience of
just two shows, my unlimited possibilities and "The Susan Block
Show." It would allow the City Council to dictate what time a program
is shown on what is supposed to be the people's free speech channel.
It is always dangerous when politicians … no matter how good their
intentions, no matter what their philosophy … try to control art,
expression, and communication of us, the people.
The public access channel is supposed to be where the voices, our
voices, which are blocked out on the corporate media, can be heard.
It is supposed to be a democratic channel, open to everyone in the
community, providing a rich, exciting, challenging exchange of ideas,
cultures, etc. This exchange can/will offend some. This is always the
price of free speech. This is why the courts have said our shows on
public access cannot be censored.
I do believe most on the council really believe they are "protecting
the children." But if they reflect a little, the "protection"
in smoke. How are we protecting kids by making different rules for
B-TV to follow? We are not. The kids can just switch the channel. In
reality, television is not kid safe or kid friendly at any time of
day or night … the news, the commercials, even the so-called kid
shows. The only real way to protect kids from television is to watch
television with them, helping them to develop critical skills,
standards, and rules.
This Kafka-like ordinance opens up the possibility of the Council
moving other dangerous content to an ever-shrinking time ghetto.
Moreover, other city councils, not as liberal as Berkeley, may
(will!) use this Berkeley model to limit access to dangerous ideas
such as gay rights, equality, rap, etc. Do we in Berkeley really want
to be responsible for unleashing this censorship on the land? I am
hopeful that when the majority thinks about it, they will stick with
our traditional Berkeley community value of free speech!
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