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TV sex memorial in Legislature won't change U.S. culture

Press-Tribune Editorial board
March 20, 2013
Idaho Press-Tribune

Elected members of the Idaho Legislature can impact your lives in many ways. There are some things, however, they really can't do anything about. They really ought to spend their time - and your money - on the former and leave the latter alone.

Here's a prime example of not following that credo: House Joint Memorial 2, sponsored by Rep. Darrell Bolz of Caldwell and co-sponsored by Reps. Brent Crane, Rick Youngblood and Gary Collins of Nampa, Gayle Batt of Wilder and Nampa Sen. Todd Lakey. The memorial urges the Federal Communications Commission to "resume enforcement of traditional American standards of decency and prohibit the implied portrayal of or discussion of sexual intercourse on television when it pertains to unmarried persons in fictitious programs, reality shows and advertisements, including jocular references to premarital sex, characters lying in bed together and characters disrobing or undressing."

Without question, the definition of "decency" has changed over the years. Western culture has gotten more and more liberal, and people with traditional values aren't happy about it. They believe it has had a detrimental impact on society.

But a nonbinding memorial from the Idaho Legislature isn't going to reverse cultural trends, and it isn't going to get the FCC to revert its definition of "decency" to that of previous generations. But it probably will provide plenty of fodder for comedians to poke fun of Idaho.

It's important to note that the FCC only has the legal power to regulate what's on broadcast television. Cable, satellite or Internet TV broadcasters can show whatever they want.

Here's reality: broadcasters will always find ways of producing content some people find objectionable. And there will always be a market for it, so it will continue to be produced. Given that reality, the best that people of traditional values can do is select programming that fits with their way of thinking and support it with their viewership and their dollars - ensuring it will continue to be produced.

Lawmakers can change your tax rates. They can change driving laws and impact how your kids are taught in public schools. They can set up health care exchanges and establish hunting rules.

But they can't stop the federal government from passing laws. They can't stop the sun from rising and setting, and they can't change the flow of the culture. That's beyond their power, and House Joint Memorial 2, simply put, is a waste of time.

* Our view is based on the majority opinions of the Idaho Press-Tribune editorial board. Members of the board are Publisher Matt Davison, Managing Editor Vickie Holbrook, Opinion Editor Phil Bridges and community members Maria Radovich, Mike Fuller, Kenton Lee, Rich Cartney, Megan Harrison and Kelly Gibbons.

Originally posted at

The editorial posted here is provided by permission of its original publisher and does not necessarily reflect the views of Idaho Public Television.

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