this abomination that will be 40 percentrnof one’s final grade.rnThe blessed Mastodon. And thosernother species no longer here. I envyrnthem. They have the grace to look uprnand out at those Rocks, Rivers, Trees—rnand, yes, up and out at the Kru, too—rnand say simply, very simply, and truthfully,rnwith hope: we did not have to hearrnthis.rn—]ohn LoftonrnH O W A R D STERN, New York City’srnoutrageous “shock jock” of stationrnWXRK, was fined last year by the FederalrnCommunications Commission. Itrnwas another example of the cultural doublernstandard that is now so pervasive itrnwould seem to have been written intornlaw. Stern ran afoul of the FCC’s ban onrn”indecency.” One doesn’t have to appreciaternStern’s politics—he’s a Republican,rnan admirer of Ronald Reagan, andrna supporter of Senator Al D’Amato, whornis a frequent guest on his program—orrnhis brand of seatalogical humor to perceiverna troubling aspect to this case.rnHoward Stern originated raunch radiornin Washington, D.C., in 1981. ThernFCC’s attempt to curb “obscenity” overrnthe public airwaves dates back to thern1960’s when, in response to a GeorgernCarlin routine on New York’s WBAI, itrnestablished its “seven dirty words” policy.rnAs a result of a complaint against Sternrnin 1986, the agency expanded its definitionrnof indecency to include programmingrnthat is “patently offensive as measuredrnby contemporary communityrnstandards.” The FCC and supportersrnof broadcaster rights have been sparringrnover this issue in federal courts, with thernlatest ruling, by the United States Courtrnof Appeals for the District of Columbia,rnholding that broadcasters must have atrnleast some period of the day when theyrnare free to carry indecent material.rnThe new criterion of “communityrnstandards” is fraught with ambiguity.rnStern’s show is the highest rated programrnin its time slot, and it also doesrnwell in several other major cities. Hernhas a particularly strong following amongrnyoung men. The millions of people whorntune him in regularly can surely claim tornconstitute a segment of the “community-“rnHoward Stern’s four-hour daily morningrnshow features humor that can best berndescribed as vulgar. He manifests a preoccupationrnwith sexual organs and bodilyrnfunctions, and he seems to make it arnpoint to insult as many minorities as herncan. Aided by his black woman sidekick,rnhe reserves some of his nastiestrncomments for women and blacks. Hisrnview that women are primarily sex objectsrnis a staple of his shtick, and he hasrnjoked about slavery.rnBut tastelessness is rampant in thernelectronic media these days, as interviewersrnand gabmeisters, in an effort tornkeep up with the competition, continuallyrnpush the boundaries of acceptabilityrnto the limits. In its own way, television’srnendless talk-show parade of transvestites,rntranssexuals, S&M enthusiasts, andrndevotees of every bizarre practice thatrnthe shows’ producers can dig up is as offensivernas what Howard Stern is doing.rnYet Oprah, Sally Jessy, Geraldo, andrnDonahue have rarely, if ever, been heardrnto utter a statement that hasn’t beenrncleared with the liberal thought police.rnWhen one considers what passes forrnradio commentary, it becomes especiallyrndifficult to justify the FCC’s action. Arnblack-owned station in New York City,rnWLIB, features virulent anti-white, anti-rnSemitic, and anti-Korean rhetoric. Onrnits call-in shows, folks have advocatedrnkilling cops. The station has close ties tornMayor Dinkins; local politicians frequentlyrnappear on it; and Governor Cuomornhas praised it as “a source of strengthrnand guidance for the African-Americanrncommunity.” Needless to say, WLIBrnhas not been punished by the FCC.rnOther black-oriented radio stations playrnrap and reggae music containing lyricsrnthat urge violence against various groups.rnThe case of Howard Stern and thernlarger question of censorship also highlightrnthe perennial, and probably irreconcilable,rnfissure in conservative ranksrnbetween libertarians and traditionalists.rnAfter all, it has been groups like TerryrnRakolta’s Americans for ResponsiblernTelevision and the Reverend DonaldrnWildmon’s National Federation for Decencyrn(now called the American FamilyrnAssociation) that have long been pressuringrnthe FCC to act against what theyrnsee as growing immorality in the massrnmedia.rnThe issue of censorship is a complexrnone, and it is naive or dishonest to contendrnthat what passes over the nation’srnairwaves has no effect on listeners andrnviewers. But if we are to have rules governingrnspeech, they should be enforcedrnagainst all offenders, not just againstrnthose deemed politically incorrect.rnOnce again, when it comes to freedomrnof speech, it is clear that some speakersrnare freer than others.rn—Richard IrvingrnSUPERBOWL XXVII last winter wasrnunremarkable except for Michael Jackson’srnhalftime extravaganza. The climaxrnof the performance was Jackson’srn”Heal the World” anthem, which herndedicated “from the children of Los Angelesrnto the children of the world.”rnMuch like the early 80’s hymn “We Arernthe World,” which Jackson composedrnwith Lionel Richie, “Heal the World” isrna weepy testimonial to the power of love,rndreams, and fraternity:rnHeal the woridrnMake it a better placernFor you and for mernAnd the entire human racernThere are people dyingrnIf you care enough for the livingrnMake a better placernFor you and for me.rnIn the Superbowl halftime show, thesernlyrics were accompanied by children (thernusual United Colors of Benetton) swayingrnback and forth and balloons floatingrnup into the Pasadena sky.rnBut Jackson’s plea for human charityrnand compassion did not end at the commercialrnbreak. For his love-and-songfestrnwas followed by an equally sappyrnadvertisement for his new Heal thernWodd Foundation. Featuring clips ofrnstarving and suffering tots, this spotrnurged viewers touched by the secular revivalrnthey had just witnessed to call Jackson’srntoll-free number and make a donationrnto an organization “devoted tornimproving conditions for childrenrnthroughout the world.”rnIntrigued, I called the foundation atrnI-800-HEAL-I23 (the number itselfrnmade me question if this was all for real).rnFootball fans must be a charitablernbunch, since all circuits were busy. Tryingrnagain later, I managed to get an answeringrnmachine. The recording wentrnsomething like this: “This is MichaelrnJackson. Thank you for calling the Healrnthe Worid Foundation. . . . To make arn$35 donation by credit card, please pressrnone now. To make a donation of a differentrnamount, or to talk to one of ourrnrepresentatives, press two now.” Irnpressed two, in the hopes of talking to arnreal person who could give me the low-rnAUCUST 1993/7rnrnrn