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Sunday, December 05, 2004

Another Argument for Watching Cable

The Boston Globe's Eileen McNamara takes CBS and NBC to task for refusing to air that commercial I referred to in my post yesterday. She is right on when she asks, "Shouldn't CBS and NBC have to apologize to the rest of us for suggesting that tolerance is too toxic an idea to be broadcast on the public airwaves?"

A Chill in the Air

...The latest act of fealty to the conservatism now in vogue in Washington is the refusal of CBS and NBC to run an ad from a mainstream Christian denomination on the grounds that its message could generate controversy and be perceived as "advocacy advertising." (ABC does not accept any religious advertising.) The networks say they refuse such ads as a matter of policy, although they certainly showed no reluctance to run advocacy political ads this fall that were both inflammatory and demonstrably false.

The radical notion promoted by the 30-second commercial from the United Church of Christ is inclusiveness, an idea deemed controversial because it encompasses gay people, the pariahs of the conservative values crowd in the ascendancy this post-election season. Never mind that the disputed ad could not be more innocuous. It shows two bouncers manning a rope line outside a church, weeding out those unworthy to attend services. They reject two men holding hands and several nonwhites. A text proclaims: "Jesus didn't turn people away. Neither do we." A narrator then intones, "No matter who you are or where you are on life's journey, you are welcome here."

CBS rejected the ad on the grounds that it does not accept advertising that takes a position on one side of a contentious issue. What issue? Bouncers? CBS pointed out in a letter to church leaders that the Bush administration has proposed an amendment to the Constitution that would outlaw gay marriage. So? It has also proposed drilling for oil in the Arctic Nation Wildlife Refuge. What has either of those misguided ideas got to do with this ad?

The commercial in question says nothing about gay marriage. Indeed, it says nothing about homosexuality, although the United Church of Christ's willingness to welcome gay people is inferred from a brief shot of two men holding hands and another of a woman in a pew with her arm around another woman. Not even such wild public displays of affection constitute a marriage proposal. I'm not even sure why they constitute evidence of homosexuality.

I do know that the same ad aired on several CBS and NBC affiliate stations last March in test markets from Tampa to Oklahoma City without generating protests. One would have assumed that the benign reception the commercials received in those markets might have convinced the networks that the spots did not violate its corporate policy of shamelessly peddling sex and violence but studiously avoiding issues of public concern.

The election is over. When are the losers going to shake off their self-pity and start screaming about this kind of hypocrisy?

...If ABC can apologize to those who feigned indignation at a fleeting glimpse of Nicollette Sheridan's bare back on Monday Night Football, shouldn't CBS and NBC have to apologize to the rest of us for suggesting that tolerance is too toxic an idea to be broadcast on the public airwaves?

Read the entire piece here --> http://www.michaelmoore.com/words/index.php?id=474

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