Saturday, February 14, 2004

Not suitable for children or deaf people

Alexis mentioned this a few days back... I didn't click the link then, but I did just now. What I found was almost too stupid to believe. I'm quite serious -- I'm skeptical about the facts. Surely even the Bush Administration would do anything this randomly stupid? From an opinion column last weekend in the Palm Beach Post:
The Bush administration has decided that people with bad hearing have bad judgment, too, and need special guidance from the federal government. So the U.S. Department of Education is declaring about 200 television programs inappropriate for closed-captioning and denying federal grant requests to make them accessible to the hearing-impaired. The department made its decisions based on the recommendations of a five-member panel. Who the five members are, only the government seems to know, and it isn't saying. But the shows they censored suggest a perspective that is Talibanesque. The government is refusing to caption Bewitched and I Dream of Jeannie, apparently fearing that the deaf would fall prey to witchcraft if they viewed the classic sitcoms. Your government also believes that Law & Order is too intense for the hard-of-hearing. So is Power Rangers. You can rest easy knowing that your federal tax dollars aren't being spent to promote Sanford and Son, Judge Wapner's Animal Court and The Loretta Young Show within the deaf community. Kids with hearing problems can forget about watching Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, classic cartoons or Nickelodeon features. Even Roy Rogers and Robin Hood are out. Sports programming took a heavy hit, too. The government has decided that people with hearing problems don't need to watch NASCAR, Major League Baseball, the National Basketball Association, the National Football League or Professional Golf Association tournaments. ... The Department of Education is refusing to reveal the names of the panel members whose opinions determined the caption grants and also won't disclose the new guidelines. By every appearance, the government has changed its definition of what constitutes a caption-worthy program. But it's keeping the new rules secret. "They apparently used a panel of five individuals and then made the censorship decisions based on the individuals' recommendations," Mr. Brick says. "We have found the identity of one of the panelists. This individual tells us that he never knew he was on such a panel and that his views would be used for censorship. No panel was convened. The five panelists were contacted individually and separately."
I have a hard time taking this at face value. I mean, I'm as anti-Bush administration as the next academic, but this is ridiculous. Please tell me I'm missing a piece of the story.

No comments:

Post a Comment