- The Washington Times - Friday, April 25, 2003

Talking trash?

One has to wonder whether the author of Tuesday's editorial "Say what?" actually read the transcript that moved the Federal Communications Commission to fine Detroit station WKRK-FM $27,500.
According to the editorial, the show merely "discussed sexual issues." Not so. The show consisted of two guys describing in excruciating, obscene detail how men can abuse women, sometimes violently, using excrement and other bodily substances. The program easily meets the standard for obscenity, which is not constitutionally protected speech, and it aired during an afternoon on a station accessible to all, including children. Instead of merely fining the station, the FCC should have yanked its license and turned the evidence over to the Justice Department for prosecution.
Congress empowered the FCC to enforce minimal standards of decency on public airwaves. Courts have upheld the FCC's duty to do so. After years of allowing the airwaves to get ever raunchier, some FCC commissioners are showing signs of life. Instead of whacking them, The Washington Times should be applauding their growing concern for the effects of such trash on our culture and our children.
It was shocking to see the same editorial come to the defense of radio talk show host Howard Stern, who trades daily in smut disguised as social commentary. But defending the Detroit outrage as a matter of free speech is identical to the line employed by hard-core pornographers who argue that standards of any kind amount to "censoring." Telling the public to just "turn the dial" denies any public interest in the public airwaves and shows shocking disregard for children.
Whatever happened to the goal of establishing a family friendly culture and pushing the pornographers back to the dark edges of town where they belong? Please tell me The Times can't possibly believe that flooding the airwaves with filth will make this a better country.

ROBERT H. KNIGHT
Director
Culture and Family Institute
Washington



As someone who regularly agrees with the positions championed by The Washington Times, I was surprised by Tuesday's editorial, "Say what?" which supports the antics of radio shock jock Howard Stern. We're talking about the same Howard Stern who has made his living for decades by topping his own outrageous deeds and stories every morning on the airwaves.
Your editorial also attempted to take FCC Commissioners Kevin Martin and Michael Copps to task for their support of a "family hour" during prime-time television. To the contrary, Mr. Martin and Mr. Copps are to be applauded for their efforts to promote at least one hour during prime time when children can watch television without being inundated by images of sex and violence. There's plenty of time for that later in the day and first thing in the morning, thanks to Mr. Stern.
If broadcasters would step up to their responsibility to clean up the airwaves, the FCC wouldn't have to. Mr. Martin and Mr. Copps are taking a measured approach in trying to persuade networks and radio stations to adhere to decency laws, and they are garnering the support not only of other commissioners, but from a wide variety of pro-family and pro-children organizations as a result. The FCC would prefer not to sanction or fine broadcasters; they would prefer that broadcasters know right from wrong.
As a public official who has spent his career defending standards of decency, I would hope The Times would also know that any position that supports indecency, vulgarity and violence over and above protecting the well-being and development of our nation's children is wrong. The FCC is right to enforce decency laws, and programmers should set aside at least one hour a night during prime time for family programming.

REP. WALTER B. JONES
House of Representatives
Washington

Overhauling State

I had hoped that Tony Blankley's apologia for Newt Gingrich's remarks at the American Enterprise Institute the other night would help me find some sympathy for Mr. Gingrich's harsh allegations of failure at the State Department ("Winning the war, losing the peace," Op-Ed, yesterday).
Unfortunately, I am still frustrated by my old conservative hero's speech. What Mr. Gingrich, and Mr. Blankley, failed to take into account is that the State Department had to contend with the incomprehensible global opposition the war with Iraq faced. Strong supporters such as Tony Blair and Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar spent an extreme amount of political capital to support our president, and both face uncertain political fortunes at home. And a nation like Turkey, with its newly elected leadership, simply did not have the political capital to spend abetting the United States in a war opposed by the majority of Turks.
Mr. Gingrich's words also do not take into account the intense battle Secretary of State Colin L. Powell, Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage and others have to fight daily against hawkish leaders such as Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld; his deputy, Paul Wolfowitz; and Vice President Richard B. Cheney. If they had their way, we would have fought this war alone very alone. Besides, in decisions ranging from going to the United Nations, writing a new U.N. Security Council resolution and visiting Syria, it is not the State Department but President Bush who has the final word. If Mr. Bush is not on board with the State Department's actions, they will not happen. Mr. Powell does not act in a void; he acts for the president.
Most curiously, Mr. Gingrich did not call attention to the best reason for calling the war with Iraq a "diplomatic failure": eight years of standoffish foreign policy under President Clinton and his secretaries of state. An aggressive, no-nonsense approach to Iraq during the height of Saddam Hussein's game playing, particularly when he expelled weapons inspectors in 1998, might have avoided a war today.
Placing full blame for diplomatic failures on the State Department does nothing but add fuel to the fire of those who want to divide this administration.

PETER LIPSETT
Davidson, N.C.



Tony Blankley's column "Winning the war, losing the peace," praising Newt Gingrich's speech to the American Enterprise Institute, missed the question of the day: "If the Iraqis voted for an Islamic state, would the United States be obliged to accept that decision?" The AEI panel blasted the question as "a wild hypothetical."
Planning for a similar possibility was ignored when the Shah of Iran fell and when the Taliban unseated the warlords in Afghanistan. Islamic leaders wield great influence. That a minority of activists can win an election of "one man, one vote, one time," should not again be ignored.
President Bush says he wants an Iraqi democracy, one that recognizes American values of individual rights and respects freedom as "God's gift." On the other hand, not to allow Sharia law violates another of our values, the religious freedom to live according to the dictates of Islam in submission to Allah.
How can supporters of Sharia be ignored if they are in the majority when the votes are counted? The State Department considers these issues when recommending foreign policy. The panelists obviously do not.
Lack of planning might be blamed for the looting in Baghdad. It ought not also justify other unintended (and ignored) consequences. The question of accepting an Islamic government in Iraq is not "a wild hypothetical." It is central to the issue of why we entered Iraq in the first place.
These folks need to take off their blinders.

CAPT. VICTOR H. SMITH
Navy (retired)
Williamsburg



Kudos to Newt Gingrich for his speach to the American Enterprise Institute and to The Washington Times for yesterday's complementary editorial "Transform the State Department." Finally a man and newspaper of stature have enough guts to declare the true reason a major overhaul of our State Department is needed: its biased policy toward Arabist interests. The "road map" to peace in Israel and Palestine will never succeed if it is constantly undermined by biased State Department bureaucrats.

PAUL S. JAFFE
Silver Spring

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