New Political Correctness: 7 More Things You Can't Say on TV
October 25, 2002
years ago, George Carlin introduced his "7 words you can't
say on T.V." Edging social commentary (and dirty words) further
into the mainstream, he picked up where Lenny Bruce left off.
Months later, TV's Maude pushed the envelope even further
by tackling abortion in prime time. This was in the 70s, mind
you, before liberals became an endangered species, and so,
while some words were taboo, certain agendas were not.
But even as restrictions on speech, attitudes and art loosened,
other shackles were put in place. Speech was only free if
it followed dominant ideology: a woman who opposed abortion
or found fault with feminism was a traitor to her gender;
men were oppressors; motherhood, oppressive and on and on
it went. It was "you're either with us or against us," courtesy
of the left and it was every bit as stifling and shrill as
people say it was.
Today, however, a new political correctness has taken hold.
While in the past, no one dared openly ponder the wisdom of
fatherless families or carting newborns to day care, today's
taboos pile higher than the national debt. Ironically, neo-conservatives
continue to rail against political correctness as if it were
solely the province of liberals, while peddling warm and fuzzy
falsehoods of their own. Why do they hate us? "Because we're
free!" What is the driving force behind America's foreign
policy? "Spreading democracy throughout the world!"
Like the former PC doctrine, this new political correctness
twists truth to fit an agenda. War profiteering masquerades
as "national security," media complicity is cloaked as wartime
patriotism, and ethical concerns are filed under "blaming
America first." Chris Matthews muses that people on the left
must hate their parents, ignoring how, under Bush and Cheney,
"Dad" has morphed into Tony Soprano.
The thuggish, incestuous relationship between government
and the media, or the "military-industrial-media-entertainment
network," as James Der Derian described it, insures that the
perimeters of debate continue to narrow. Dysfunction festers
alongside secrets we can't know and others we can't discuss.
In short, the right's political correctness is more soul-crunching
than the left's, and quite frankly, something has to be done.
So, in the tradition of George Carlin's list, here are 7 sentiments
you won't hear on TV:
'MADE-FOR-TV' QUOTE: "Of course, there's a liberal
bias in the news. All of the networks tilt left." - Bernard
Goldberg quoting former CBS boss Andrew Heyward
POLITICALLY INCORRECT COUNTERPOINT #1: "The business
of the journalist is to destroy the truth, to lie outright,
to pervert, to vilify, to fawn at the feet of mammon, and
to sell the country for his daily bread. . . . We are the
tools and vassals of the rich men behind the scenes. We are
the jumping jacks, they pull the strings and we dance. Our
talents, our possibilities and our lives are all the property
of other men. We are intellectual prostitutes." - former
New York Times editor John Swinton
Don't like what's being said? Deem the source "liberal" or
"anti-America" and information is immediately discredited.
Take into account John Swinton's candor, however, and you
see why the world's Rupert Murdochs have a vested interest
in having the common folk hum along with Hannity.
'MADE FOR TV' QUOTE: "If you want to fight evil, if
you want to join the war on terror, love somebody. Do some
good. It's the gathering momentum of thousands of acts of
kindness and generosity which will show the world the compassionate
face of America. . . " - President Bush
COUNTERPOINT #2: "Could the Nazi holocaust have happened
without anyone knowing about it? The American holocaust has.
. . . a few million people have died in the American holocaust
and many more millions have been condemned to lives of misery
and torture as a result of US interventions." - Former U.S.
State Department official William Blum.
So much of our history is hidden; it's hard to know what's
true. Despite government assurances of American benevolence,
the Association for Responsible Dissent estimated that by
1987, CIA covert operations were responsible for 6 million
deaths. But you'd not hear that on the Sunday morning shows.
Steve Kangas catalogued Blum's findings in a timeline
before suspiciously "committing suicide." Considering ways
blowback is a constant foreign policy nightmare, we have to
wonder: Are we sentencing our kids to futures of daily color-coded
'MADE-FOR-TV' QUOTE: "If we are an arrogant nation,
they'll resent us. If we're a humble nation but strong, they'll
welcome us." - Candidate George Bush, during the 2000 debates
COUNTERPOINT #3: "This war [in Iraq], should it come,
is intended to mark the official emergence of the United States
as a full-fledged global empire, seizing sole responsibility
and authority as planetary policeman. It would be the culmination
of a plan 10 years or more in the making, carried out by those
who believe the United States must seize the opportunity for
global domination." - Jay Bookman
Which TV pundits, besides Pat Buchanan, have addressed the
Wolfowitz Doctrine in depth? Who's fully examined ways our
new national strategy is at odds with America's 'humble' values?
By mid-October, Bush promised to head up a "vast coalition"
against Iraq, but so far, America's U.N resolution draft has
been rejected by Russia and France and Australians have staunchly
criticized their government's alliance with the U.S. And who
can forget recent events in Germany? "If we're an arrogant
nation, they'll resent us." No kidding. What happened, George?
'MADE-FOR-TV' QUOTE: "Our enemy is the terrorists
themselves, and the regimes that shelter and sustain them."
- G.W. Bush
COUNTERPOINT #4: "The good Lord didn't see fit to
put oil and gas only where there are democratic regimes friendly
to the United States," - Dick Cheney, at the CATO Institute,
Cheney also said, "You've got to go where the oil is." We
'MADE-FOR-TV' QUOTE: "For eight years, under the tutelage
of a president hungry for a Nobel Prize, the American position
had been that when attacked, Israel should exercise "restraint"
and not contribute to the "cycle of violence." Everyone
knew that this was no cycle; it was elementary self-defense
in the face of an openly declared campaign of Palestinian
terror. But truth could not be allowed to stand in the way
of "peace." - Charles Krauthammer
COUNTERPOINT #5: "The [West's] all-purpose slander
of "anti- Semitism" is now used with ever-increasing promiscuity
against anyone - people who condemn the wickedness of Palestinian
suicide bombings every bit as much as they do the cruelty
of Israel's repeated killing of children - in an attempt to
shut them up." - Robert Fisk.
Anyone who's switched from American news to the BBC has gotten
a glimpse of what Fisk is referring to. The question is: Does
America give Israel billions for defense or to push Palestinians
off their land? The truth can never be that simple, of course,
but given that Dick Armey and Trent Lott have openly called
for Palestinians to move elsewhere and Donald Rumsfeld has
chimed in about the "so-called occupied territories," America's
role as an honest broker is in tatters. President Bush's mandate
for ousting Arafat and the Christian Right's oh-so-holy interest
in expelling the Palestinians have contributed to an atmosphere
that very may well bring about the Armageddon Jerry Falwell
and Ralph Reed ache for.
'MADE-FOR-TV' QUOTE: "Look, we understand the enemy
- they've made themselves clear: they want to murder us,"
he said. "We don't sit around and get all gooey and wonder
if these people have been misunderstood in their childhood.
If they're going to try to kill us, that's bad." - FOX News'
COUNTERPOINT #6: "Americans are the best entertained
and the least informed people in the world." - Neil Postman
'MADE-FOR -TV' QUOTE': "[W]e should peacefully commit
ourselves to seeking a society that values life - from its
very beginnings to its natural end. Unborn children should
be welcomed in life and protected in law." - President Bush
COUNTERPOINT #7: "On a tour of a hospital in the southern
town of Basra, a doctor told us that before the war [in Iraq],
the first question asked at birth in their hospital was: "Is
it a boy or girl?" After the war and the use of depleted uranium
shells, the question became: "Is it normal or not?" - U.S
Congressman David E. Bonior
In an article in the San Francisco Chronicle, Dr. Helen Caldicott
chronicled the health hazards associated with depleted uranium
munitions and took this administration to task. "Do George
W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Paul Wolfowitz, Condoleezza Rice, and
Donald Rumsfeld understand the medical consequences of the
1991 war and the likely health effects of the next one they
are now planning?" she asked. "If they do not, their ignorance
is breathtaking; even more incredible though - and alas, much
more likely - is that they do understand, but do not care."
This kind of myopic, immoral vision is not new. "The nationalist,"
wrote George Orwell, "not only does not disapprove of atrocities
committed by his own side, but he has a remarkable capacity
for not even hearing about them."
Thanks to the new political correctness, this trend is likely