The following is from the Media Monitor, a locally produced media watchdog
newsletter in Austin, Texas.
Censorship, Obscenity, Blackmail, Control and Pushing the Edge
By Jay Ashcraft
During the internationally-censored Desert Storm, dissenters in
Austin urged an Austin access producer to run his new video of a
"Skinny Puppy Song," perhaps to push the edges of the prevailing
winds of censorship and conformity. Included in this video were
juxtapositions of facial shots of people having sex, a man shooting
himself in the head, aborted fetuses from an anti-abortion film, and
brief images of fast-food commercials. It was actually quite a parody
of the sex, violence and reality sold on commercial TV.
After the "Skinny Puppy" video was aired at 2 in the morning,
a city attorney calls the manager of ACTV and tells her how they
have been long-time liberals, but objected to the airing of the show.
You see, the attorney's teenagers were watching this during a
slumber party. It wasn't an issue of First Amendment rights, the
attorney told the city manager, but flagrant obscenity. Then, the
attorney went on to threaten the manager to pull the producer off
the air immediately or face the city shutting down access completely
the following day. Facing this blackmail that could kill Access TV for
everyone, the manager reluctantly called the studio and had the
security guard remove the producer from the studios.
Grand Jury to blackmail the City Council with threats of prison to
censorship of access. The City Council yielded gracefully by
recommending the Cable Commission enact censorship rules. To
many's dismay, the Cable Commission refused. The city's response
was to try and change the City Code to take all the power away from
the Cable Commission and give it to the City Council.
favor of censorship, City Council members went into executive
session to discuss the issue. Without a quorum, no vote was held.
Soon after, the city filed suit against the State of Texas and Travis
County to clarify whether the Grand Jury can blackmail city
governments with felony charges and penitentiary time, and force
them to censor a private television service with public access.
public acceptance of censorship in our county, we must come to grips
with possible repercussions nationally. This chain of events began
with one person, a city attorney, who exercised control over Access
with threats of blackmail because he or she couldn't control her own
teenagers. Isn't it is "obscene" to deny teenagers their right to make
their own choices?
access a huge audience with diverse views. Also, it enables our
culture, through such contemporary and alternative art forms as
industrial music videos and rap music, to push art beyond its own
defined boundaries. This, in turn, lets our culture reflect upon itself
expression? Because censorship is control. The thought of one
person having the ability to cause censorship for the masses is
horrifying. The result is control, out of fear, to protect us from
discourse and cultural growth. The irony in this is that society
exposes itself in attempts to implement this censorship and control.
where will people be able to have a true discourse and displace their
aggressions? Other questions come to mind. Who's watching the
Grand Jury and how would it answer for abuses of power used for
press giving this issue token public input and coverage, shouldn't we
also question their impotence at not taking a stand early on against
censorship? And what about the danger of their own continuing
practices of censorship and control within their own organizations?
power control our own freedom. If we don't like satire of society on
public access, we can always turn it off, but by censorship, we'll
never have that choice. We don't hear the true story, only polarized
visions to appease the perceived wants of the voters or mass
audience. Whether its art, Access, the news or our own government,
censorship is on the increase and is dangerous. It hides the truth
and perpetuates the lying controllers to control.