Balls are ushering in the end times.

I think this photograph of mine says it all. Why do we still let our children and wives play with them?


AFA is ushering in the end times.

So, it's no surprise that AFA (American Family Association) is helping to ring in the Apocalypse. What's surprising is how effectively they've gotten under my skin. In high school, AFR (American Family.....Radio) was in my home everyday, and I listened to the more-often-than-not clunky Christian pop, the earnest Christian hosts, and an occasional, awkward message from AFA's founder, Don Wildmon. Think of Pat Robertson's halting delivery on his 700 Club, and you've got the picture: co-hosts trying to smooth over the incoherent statements that are only tolerated because he founded the damn organization. AFA likes to raise a stink and bombard companies and television networks with emails from its members. "Boycott Disney!" "Boycott Ford!" "We saw Janet's nipple! FCC, you better fine CBS and give it some good ass whuppins!" Etc. They protested the unedited airing of Saving Private Ryan and Schindler's List. They care, but they're really angry. Or they're angry but really care. Whatever. When I came across news about those little rascals' newest complaint drive, the pudgy passionate artist man who lives inside my kidney became riled up, and I stood on my chair and loudly said, "O Captain! My Captain!" Or something in a similar vein.

Here's the lowdown:

CBS is re-airing an Emmy and Peabody Award-winning 9/11 documentary, simply called 9/11. The documentary has already aired twice since 2002. The difference this time is that it is running without any commercial interruption or sponsor underwriting. The airtime which has been freed is being filled with additional interviews. For this broadcast the interviews will not be edited, and the language of the rescue workers will be heard in its frank delivery. CBS could experience some backlash because AFA views this as a direct affront to the recently increased FCC indecency fines. Here is an excerpt from AFA's website (The boldface is the site's own.):

"9/11," which will be shown in prime-time, contains a tremendous amount of hardcore profanity. CBS has stated they have not, and will not, make any cuts in the amount and degree of profanity. CBS will ignore the law. The network is suing the FCC over the indecency law, saying they should be able to show whatever they desire whenever they desire. CBS wants no limits.
Apparently, trying to air the actual words of emergency workers who were present at Ground Zero is the same as letting an f-bomb dropping Snoop Dog grope a gaggle of intoxicated, topless Spring Break coeds. Let's be honest: CBS wants no limits. (That boldface is my own. Thank you very much.)

What frustrates me is that an organization like AFA is incapable of seeing anything beyond the Big 3: Sex, Violence, and Profanity. It stamps television shows with a Good TV/Bad TV label in its AFA Journal solely under the guidelines of how frequently profanity is used or if the message and content fall under the vague umbrella of "family friendly." What the AFA doesn't understand is that art and any message it conveys cannot solely be judged by content which may be deemed objectionable. (And I'm making no claims that all television shows qualify as "art." Are you listening, Laguna Beach: Season Three?) A "profane" piece of art may in reality be frighteningly profound, and a viewer-safe program may be exceedingly inconsequential. Or vice versa. AFA itself applied this standard of reasoning when endorsing The Passion of the Christ, honestly one of the most excruciatingly violent movies in recent memory (Again, the boldface is theirs, not mine):

AFA has officially endorsed the movie The Passion of the Christ by Mel Gibson. We are urging everyone to see what Dr. James Dobson of Focus on the Family called a "film that must be seen." [...] We encourage to you to order enough tickets for your Sunday School class or small group. We especially encourage your church to provide a ticket for every youth in your church.
Oddly enough, AFA felt that the message of the movie trumped its objectionable content and specifically encouraged younger viewers to attend. In turn, I am following the precedent set by AFA. I believe that the historical importance and relevance of the documentary trumps any objection to the language used by the rescue workers in the film.

I know that realistically I cannot counter the millions of AFA devotees who will send en masse the letter of complaint to the FCC and CBS, but I'm taking something of a symbolic stand (Oh, how dramatic!). I used the petition that AFA has provided, erased the pre-filled body of the letter, and wrote my own in support of CBS's move to air the documentary. If you would like to follow suit, click here. If you use this link, an email will be sent to both the FCC and CBS. I do not know if AFA monitors the petitions which come from its website. If you've been really motivated (way to go, d.a.vid), perhaps you'll want to contact FCC and CBS directly.

Here is my exceptionally well-crafted letter:

Dear FCC,

I encourage you to responsibly review CBS's decision to air the 9/11 documentary in its unedited content. I have not seen the original edited form but will be watching when the documentary re-airs. The language may be hard, but the event itself was hard. These are the lives of the everyday men and women who experienced this tragedy as either victim or rescue worker. It is unnecessary to place fines against the CBS network for letting these individuals bring the truth of their experience to the American people. Appropriate parental advisories are sufficient to warn the viewing audience of the program's content. The censorship of the language of the rescue workers does nothing more than deny the humanity of the individuals who were present. It is not discouraging to discover that heroes are human too - quite the opposite. To understand that these were simply regular people, with the characteristics and shortcomings we all share, who were risking their lives to save others, is quite encouraging and awe-inspiring. It is the honest search into and assessment of our humanity that allows us to endure - to face the past, to understand the present, and to move forward into the future.

Thank you,
______ _______
(Now let me include a disclaimer: I have not seen the unedited or edited versions of the documentary. I imagine that the images and language included will be horrific, but that is not surprising considering the nature of the event.)

Couldn't AFA be using its 3,067,061 members (as of September 1) to be promoting other causes: Bible literacy; good ol' fashioned literacy; eradicating poverty or, perhaps, hunger; spreading kindness; giving hugs; calling their mothers; learning more complicated double dutch variations? When did they hijack the terms "decency" and "family" and make them so irrational? Having standards is not the same as being stupid.