Indecent indecency legislation

The blogosphere’s all atwitter over the inevitable passage by the House of legislation that would dramatically increase FCC fines for violations of its dangerously obscure indecency rules. Jeff Jarvis calls it “a dark day for the First Amendment” and rails at the religious right for wanting even more.

Witch hunts, meet 2005.

I predict this will backfire on my evangelical friends for two reasons. One, movement dynamics are such that the “scent” of victory is enough to destroy the movement. That’s inevitable here, because the only way such a movement can continue is to institutionalize it. When that happens, the energy dies, and the pendulum swings the other way. Secondly, the incessant demands for more reveal the extreme nature of the movement, and that will also impact the pendulum. Even if the membership of one of these witch hunt groups is satisfied with a victory, the group itself cannot be. Why? Because the leaders have become addicted to the power and money involved in fighting the fight. This becomes a weight around the shoulders of the movement, and it cannot continue.

I’m not suggesting everybody just sit back and watch as this unfolds. On the contrary. This is THE time to let your voice be heard. To those opposed to the witch hunts, it’s time to consider again the words of German Pastor Martin Niemöller’s famous quote:

‘First they came for the Communists, but I was not a Communist, so I said nothing. Then they came for the Social Democrats, but I was not a Social Democrat, so I did nothing. Then came the trade unionists, but I was not a trade unionist. And then they came for the Jews, but I was not a Jew, so I did little. Then when they came for me, there was no one left to stand up for me.’
And to those who feel passionately that the matter of indecency and media is negatively impacting our culture and especially our kids, read Niemöller’s quote and ask yourself this:

Do you really want the responsibility for turning the culture over to people won’t stop at anything? You need to ask that question, because it’s a very real matter.

In the end, I always trust the people to get it right, assuming they have the wherewithal to decide. And in the final analysis, isn’t culture the real issue here anyway? What we should be asking is what is it about the culture that fosters an environment conducive to decadence? That is the problem, not the visible targets that the right is chasing.

The answer cuts a little too close to home, methinks, and that’s why we live in this “us against them” world.

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