November 9, 2007

Its Not Censorship, its Taking Responsibility

Tavis Smiley: Audio 11.08.07 -  Enough Is Enough Campaign: Hundreds protesting BET and VIACOM

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Tavis talked about the Enough is Enough campaign on his show today, raising in the discussion the issue of censorship which he suggested was implicated in the current protests against BET. I had to snort at the notion. Censorship is what happens when the government tries to shut you up because they don't like what you have to say. It is not censorship for the public to say in an organized way that in our collective judgment, your product is of low moral and cultural value and urge you to improve it or begone. The black public who is victimized by the degrading images that fill far too much of BET/Viacom's programming is absolutely entitled to speak its mind about the vile images they see. No one is stopping BET from selling media crap or censoring them. The indictment of BET and Viacom is a part of the critique on hip hop, in particular the anti-women, self denigrating ghetto brand of it that has been hijacked for the purposes of being made into a commodity for the lowest common denominator viewer. BET is selling that product which victimizes black women and diminishes the youth who absorb its demeaning content.

But the liberal progressive critique of the outrage embodied in the Enough is Enough campaign as censorship is way off base. The crappy, nasty videos and other low life type programming on BET/Viacom is not entitled to the marketplaces' dollar. The market can decide that your product is of such a poor quality that it ought not be consumed. That is the growing judgment of the market place on BET/Viacom's product. Its taking responsibility for ourselves and our own dignity. It is most assuredly NOT censorship.