A hard proposition to swallow


Sometimes I’ll poke fun at the firearms advocates by making a porn joke. After all, it is not uncommon when gun control debates flare up in the public discourse to hear the claim that a gun will protect all our other rights. And while I often disagree with those people about what the Second Amendment actually says, that argument is not my point here.

Adults Only ...?Rather, I’ll point out that the First Amendment is constantly violated. I cannot show, say Deep Throat on broadcast television, say, on a Saturday morning. Well, I can’t show it anytime, but it helps the joke, I think, to try to inject the pornography into hours when there might be lots of children watching television. Or maybe on a Sunday, alongside the plethora of church sermons.

So come on, I’ll say. Where are the gun owners defending our rights? Don’t take me wrongly: I really don’t think running Deep Throat on CBS should be something to start a shooting war over. I just think it’s a fun way of making the point that the only right the firearms people are interested in protecting is their right to shoot things. Cans, animals, other people. Whatever.

It’s an argument best left for another day, I suppose. Or maybe not. Rob Kievit notes for Radio Netherlands:

A stale old porn movie is at the centre of a political row involving Dutch public television. Public broadcasting corporations VPRO and BNN are planning to screen Deep Throat, a 1972 vintage production, as part of a themed night on the history of pornographic films. Although the film will be aired after midnight and be embedded in a discussion programme, political parties are clamouring for steps to be taken.

I admit, though, I don’t recall ever making the joke about PBS. Score one for the Dutch. And it’s not like these networks are strangers to comedy. Kievit points out that VPRO was the first Dutch network to show a naked woman during prime time, apparently during the 1960s. BNN pioneered a controversial reality show last year, in which contestants competed for a donor kidney. Amid a predictable uproar, the show played out and revealed itself to be a hoax intended to start a public dialogue about organ donation.

The controversy over Deep Throat includes some rhetoric familiar to Americans—

In online discussion groups, participants suggest that the Christian Union had better turn its attention to the excessive amount of violence shown on TV. They also say that people who do not want to watch explicit sex can always reach for the off button, or change channels.

—and also some notions we might envy:

Dutch public television – government-funded, but editorially independent – is trying desperately to win back younger viewers who generally prefer the commercial channels. If broadcasters break laws in doing so, the government can only intervene afterwards. Trying to stop a show before it has been aired is seen as preventive censorship, and that is anathema to Dutch political culture. Most politicians, the likes of Arie Slob possibly excepted, would rather be seen dead than censor the media.

And I’m not saying a goddamned thing about … er … well, right. At any rate, what the hell ever happened to our First Amendment? And where the hell is Charlton Heston?

(A tip o’the hat and much appreciation to Kit at Words, Words, Words.)

2 thoughts on “A hard proposition to swallow

  1. this Second Amendment advocate will stick up for your right to watch porn on TV.

    though, you must respect that the Supreme Court affirms that obscenity is not protected, and most porn falls under the “appeals to the prurient interest” clause. (Given its historical context, “Deep Throat” may be considered art now versus say “Anal Nurses 9”)

    The gray area falls under the “indecent” content restrictions enforced by the FCC. But, there are shades of gray everywhere. A Second Amendment advocate can cite many gun control laws that violate the 2nd Amendment just as you assert violations the 1st Amendment.

  2. I have seen this film and it is anything but sexy.

    As to how far it goes toward explaining why some men are clueless to the location of the clitoris (in the film it is suggested that it is in her throat) I cannot say. But I do think the fact that it was such a popular film of it’s time and it’s use as the code name for a watergate informant that it deserves a place in history. Why on earth they see the need to use public funds to create a show about the history of pornographic films is anyone’s guess. I can see someone objecting to tax money being spent on this in the same way that some people in this country might not want to see the NEA give money to someone like Robert Maplethorp. I know very little about Dutch law, so I don’t know how protected they are from censorship. I do think that it is a good idea to discuss the difference in opinion over what is art and what is sensationalist trash.

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