The following is from the Media Monitor, a locally produced media watchdog newsletter in Austin, Texas. Steve Carr ----------------- 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 and grow. 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 political purposes? 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.