In a wide ranging conversation on PBS Newshour that saw pundits cover topics like gay marriage, Charlie Hebdo and free speech, the New York Times’ David Brooks continued to prove why no self-respecting conservative ever listens to him. The man is so far out of touch with the conservative mainstream that he could actually invent a new brand of conservative. We could call him “Elitist Coastal Conservative” or “Head-in-the-Clouds Oblivious Conservative” or “New York Liberal Bubble Conservative”… I think any of those titles would fit better than just “conservative.”
Anyway, the point that I most want to focus on comes around 10:30 in the conversation when host Judy Woodruff notes that PBS chose not to run the picture of the Charlie Hebdo cartoons that are currently in the news. She notes that the vast majority of viewers thought that PBS and other news outlets were wrong for not showing the cartoons in question. Which is about the time that David Brooks does something completely out of character and says something that … I kind of agree with!
He notes that while his first reaction is that the media should show the cartoons in all their glory because they are newsworthy, we as a society have certain decency standards that we expect to be upheld on prime time TV, and some of the cartoons are very much NOT suitable for all eyes.
Start at 10:30 in the video to cut right to the pertinent bit…
Here’s what he said again –
And I thought, no, the news value, you have got the show what — the subject of what all this fuss is all about. But as I thought about it more, when you actually look at the actual cartoons, some of them involve sodomy, some of them involve things that violate every standard of decency which we have.
And so my view is that our standards of what represents decent behavior and civic conversation are more important in this case. And if people want to see the cartoons, they can go online, they can go somewhere else.
And my basic attitude is that, when it comes to speech, is that we should almost, almost never invite somebody off campus, we should almost, almost never pass a law, but we should have certain social standards, what’s polite, what’s acceptable, what gets you respect, what doesn’t. And maintaining standards of just decency, we don’t curse on the air.
And that’s just — it’s a way of behaving respectfully, and that encourages conversation. So, I think the call is ultimately the right one.
That’s exactly right.
It’s the same reason I don’t want to see Janet Jackson’s boob during the Super Bowl or Miley Cyrus’ disturbingly sexual theatrics at the Grammy’s and I don’t want to hear comedian Aziz Ansari saying something foul at the Emmy’s. We have certain standards of decency and decorum that we expect on our wide broadcast arenas.
Believing that those things should be censored where anyone can see them does not mean that free speech should be curtailed. The late night news programs, the Internet, certain print media formats – all should feel free to republish the cartoons.
“…when it comes to speech, is that we should almost, almost never invite somebody off campus, we should almost, almost never pass a law, but we should have certain social standards, what’s polite, what’s acceptable, what gets you respect, what doesn’t. And maintaining standards of just decency, we don’t curse on the air.”
Today in Canada and the UK and in other allied Democracies free speech is under assault. Laws are being passed and people are being arrested… just for saying offensive things. We cannot allow that to happen here – but that doesn’t mean that showing disgusting cartoon imagery on the 6 o’clock news is okay.
I hope David Brooks enjoys this. This may be the first and last time that I actually agree with him about something.
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