for racial harmony; Soap counselsntolerance for homosexuals; even Fonzie’snown Happy Days takes on a new socialnconsciousness. With Norman Lear in thenlead, the sitcoms battle against everynconventional belief in sight.nSince parents all too often teach conventionalnbeliefs to their children, itnfollows that the sitcoms must liberate thenchildren from these pernicious influences.nFather doesn’t know bestnanymore. Sitcom kids work out problemsnon their own, occasionally pausing to offerngood advice to their elders. When thenunderstanding older sister on Eight isnEnough realizes that her 16-year-oldnsister is about to lose her virginity, shenlooks on anxiously but holds her peace.nAuthority figures should be seen and notnheard. And of course little sister reaches ansatisfactory conclusion on her own,nuninhibited by prior principles. Actingnin loco parentis, the scriptwriters findnsome other reason to encourage continence;nmoral rules are not enough, sonthe threat of venereal disease and the fearnof emotional commitment serve instead.nAnd the parents, proper sitcom ideals,nnever speak a discouraging word.nThe assault on convention does notnend with the last homily of the comedynblock. As TV fare turns to cops and robbersnand other “adult” intrigues, thenpace steps up. Calls for understandingncome thick and fast; moral principles arenseldom cited. TV surgeons discover thatnan East German athlete is the product ofna sex-change operation, but still theynurge her boyfriend not to abandon her—nhe should be understanding. A middleagednman conducts his first adulterousnaffair without guilt, since his wifenwelcomes him back understandingly. Antough cop roughs up some prisoners, butnhis superiors understand that he is justnoveranxious to nab his man. Situationalnethics reign supreme. If a characternmeans well—if he honestly believes thatnhe is doing right—the script treats hisnfaults kindly.nMoral tenets apparently do not fit intonthe tough world of the teledrama. Mayben5()inChronicles of Culturenthe tough cop doesn’t play by the rules,nbut how can he? The rules are outmoded;nthey don’t take account of the complexitiesnwith which he has to contend.nThe TV world is too complicated, toonsubtly shaded, for ordinary ethical principles.nCharacters cannot fall back onngeneral moral principles or refer tondogma for support. This is mgged, grittynrealism, and even good guys sometimesnwear black hats.nOne distinct TV genre stands out as annexception, allowing its characters to basentheir actions on traditional moral beliefsn—and even to go to church. Religiousnservices and religious principles figurenNeofeudalismnAnyone who is familiar with history,nparticularly with that of the EuropeannMiddle Ages, knows that the supremenstruggle of that time was the protractednwar for undivided authority. In order tonprosper as a state or a society, it wasnnecessary to establish and make functionalna central political power. The onesnwho fiercely opposed that power werenmighty overlords who invoked some inalienablenrights grounded in an aristocraticnfeudal ethos and personal merit.nThe common perception was that thenfeudal sovereigns oppressed people andndefended only their own vassals, whilenthe central authority took on the cause ofnthe little folk, the peasants, the wretchednof the earth. Thus, not until the oppressivenoverlords had been cmshed bynkings, popes and the logic of history,ncould societies go forward with thenbusiness of progress.nIn our time, i.e. in America, we arenwitnessing a replay of that stmggle. Thencentral authority, however, is not anmonarch, or even a member of the dulynJOl RNALISMnnnprominently in both The Waltons andnLittle House on the Prairie. But thesenshows are set in the past, safely insulatednfrom today’s realities. The implication isnclear. The Walton family can afford tonlive by such unyielding principles,nsheltered as they are in their quaint Appalachianntown, but today, in the big city,nwe need flexible ethical systems. Sontoday’s teledramas must be realistic.nRealism, yes. So, time and again, wenconfront that hackneyed dramatic type,nthe whore with a heart of gold. Realism?nThen why is it, amid all these starknrealities, that we never confront a whorenwith the heart of a whore? Dnelected federal government, but thenAmerican idea of democratic fairnessnand discursive pluralism, which is beingnfatally challenged by those who attemptnautocratically to monopolize the publicndiscourse, thus transforming it into a toolnof their self-perpetuating and unassailablenpower. Americanism asserts thatneveryone has the civil right to voice hisnpoint of view publicly. The overlords ofnthe media and the press oppose and factuallyndestroy that right, claiming someninalienable privilege that gives them—nand them alone—the uncontrolled-bysocietynpower to determine who speaksnout, how and about what. Recently thenlegally elected U.S. administration feltnthat its views and its record had beenngrossly misrepresented and falsified by anCBS program and asked for air time fromnCBS to present publicly its point of view.nCBS, the Duke of Burgundy of USAn1980, refused. Both the good of thensociety and the elemental principle ofndemocratic decency were trampled bynthat neofeudal spirit, the curse ofnour republic.nIn the Middle Ages, however, the con-n