Idaho legislature wants control of your television

By Kyle Harding, Opinion Editor

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If the content of a television show is offensive, should you turn the show off or turn to the federal government?

Idaho lawmakers seem to think the latter. On March 19, the state House of Representatives passed a non-binding resolution, introduced by republican Darrell Bolz, to call on the Federal Communication Commission “to resume enforcement of traditional American standards of decency.” Of course, enforcing traditional standards of decency means protecting us from “the implied portrayal or discussion of sexual intercourse on television when it pertains to unmarried persons. … Including jocular references to premarital sex, characters lying in bed together and characters disrobing or undressing.”

The offended parties are left with a few options. They can install v-chips on their TVs to make sure their kids don’t learn about the horrors of premarital sex. They can fill up their DVRs with old sitcoms from the TV Land network and yearn for the innocence of 1950s America when couples slept in separate beds on TV and all we had to fear was nuclear war. Or they can use their office to try to get a federal agency to exercise greater control over what Americans are watching.

Do they think the FCC is not power-mad enough as it is? This is an agency that levied over a half million dollars in fines because Justin Timberlake showed us less than a second’s worth of Janet Jackson’s nipple during the halftime show of Super Bowl XXXVIII. This is an agency that, unhappy with having control over the airwaves, is attempting to seize control of the Internet. And Bolz wants to cede more authority to them because he takes offense to the content on television.

Why would a republican from one of the reddest of red states want to grant more power to a federal agency? Oh, right, religion. It is not enough for some evangelical Christians to live by their religion. Every aspect of public life must actively promote their belief system. That is why they get angry when Google doesn’t do a doodle for their holidays. That is why they see laws against proselytizing in public schools as a persecution of their faith. That is why they claim that marriage equality is nothing short of an attack on the American family. And that is why they cannot simply not watch a show they find offensive.

It is always cloaked in language heavy on words like traditional, values, children, family and decency, but it is really just a low-grade temper tantrum directed at the notion that others do not share their moral code.

Bolz speaks of the importance of standing up for his morals. I agree. My morals include not trying to run other people’s lives.

Follow me on Twitter @schmylesmarding