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Feature: Ticket Booth Tyranny (Part One) 682

Libertarianism looks better by the day. In case you haven't noticed, America's primary response to violence among the young has been to post the Ten Commandments in schools and unleash a wave of video chain store and ticket booth harassment against kids and their parents. One of two parts.

This week, I took a giant personal step towards Libertarianism and nearly got busted when I injected myself into a fracas between an out-of-control megaplex manager, a harried working mom and five geek kids trying to see "South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut."

When it comes to violence, morality and the young, we're the Idiot Nation, the laughingstock not only of the civilized world but of the highly-wired generation of kids we're supposedly trying to protect. (Adults apparently need protection too. Only Europeans can see the sex scenes in Stanley Kubrick's "Eyes Wide Shut," cut out for Americans to avoid an NC-17 rating.)

Perhaps without noticing, you may have seen evidence of this new Ticket Booth Morals Squad, out to protect our allegedly vulnerable kids from dirty words and images. (Violent slaughter is, of course, fine anytime.) Signs posted all over theaters warn that rating policies will be strictly enforced. In some chains, even 17-year-olds aren't permitted in "R" rated movies. And Blockbuster Video announced last week that 17-year-olds can't rent "R" rated movies anymore either.

Adults are being grilled at the box office, informed that they must stay with the children for the duration of an "R" movie, or asked if they understand that the movie might be sexually explicit.

Of course, since most movie chains are owned by corporate fatcats but operated by diffident teenagers seething in their crummy, low-paying jobs, these Draconian rules merely pit kids against kids and sputtering adults. Teenagers are suddenly responsible for the moral policing of kids and films. Loopy but true.

The cultural lives of America's kids have long been uncensorable, anyway. Anything produceable in print or video is available on the Net or the Web.

Kids turned away at the box office will simply watch their movies and TV shows on a smaller screen, as the producers of "Buffy The Vampire Slayer" learned last month when they cravenly cancelled the season finale (which featured a giant serpent at a high school graduation) to appease post-Columbine hysterics in politics and journalism.

The decision about what movies kids ought to see is clearly a decision for their parents to make, not Hollywood ratings boards, the video-store managers, discount retailing chains (like Wal-Mart) or movie-theater operators. If a parent thinks that "South Park" - available in bleeped form on cable every week - is appropriate for his her kid to see solo, that should be the end of the discussion.

It's not, though. Now, it's just the beginning.

I knew we were going to have trouble at the theater when the ticketseller refused to allow a dad to buy five tickets for a later showing because one of the kids hadn't shown up yet. "I just want to save him a ticket," the man objected.

"If I sell you an extra ticket, you might give it to some kid who will come in without a parent," huffed the teen behind the glass, in an encounter eerily similar to one in the movie itself.

So the guy gave up and a woman came up to the booth to buy five "South Park" tickets. Her son and four of his friends, all 14 or 15 --- regular viewers of the TV version - clustered eagerly behind her.

"You going in?," a the ticket-seller demanded; he couldn't have been 19 himself.

"No," said the mother truthfully. "I have to get to work. I'm giving them permission to see it, and I'll pick them up during my coffee break. " She stopped herself mid-explanation.

"Wait a minute!," she said suddenly. "Why am I telling you this? I'm their mom. It's okay by me for them to see the movie. What's it your business whether I'm there or not?"

The kid in the booth shook his head. "Can't sell you the tickets," he snapped. "You have to stay there the whole time, too. We have ushers watching for parents who try to leave."

The mother, nervously glancing at her watch, asked to see the manager, who was even more rigid and arrogant.

"It's our policy, lady," he said. "You got a problem? Call the company." He pointed to the General Cinema toll-free number on the wall.

I stepped up to the booth, intending to buy a ticket for "Eyes Wide Shut" - I'd already seen "South Park" twice - listening to this surreally pious claptrap and marveling at how American corporations - Wal-Mart, Blockbuster, the WB TV network, Loews, General Cinema - have mastered the art of appearing pious while being dependably greedy and manipulative.

I said I'd take the kids in. How reassuring, I thought, to know that these companies are making sure that Columbines will never happen again by keeping kids out of "American Pie" because it has some sex scenes.

"Wait! He's not with them," said the kid in the booth to the manager. Meaning me.

"Yes, I am. I'm the pastor of our local church. I'm here to show them "South Park" as an example of evil and immorality in the world. How can we fight Satan if we don't know him and can't see him? I hear he's in the movie. I hope you're not planning to interfere with religious teaching!"

The manager hesitated, said no, then yes, then went to make a phone call. Maybe I wasn't convincing as a pastor. In a minute, a cop sidled up and asked me if there was any trouble. "No sir," I said, "just the eternal battle between good and evil. We are trying to save some souls here."

He blinked, then stepped back. "Well, you have to move along," he muttered, bored. "Otherwise I'll have to ticket you for being disorderly."

I pictured calling my wife and telling her I'd been busted over "South Park;" could she bail me out? The idea kind of grew on me, although I wasn't certain she would bail me out.

The stymied manager and his moral aide conferred briefly. The ticket line was growing longer, the rumblings about the theater chain's intrusive and hypocritical policy getting louder. "Let the kids see the goddamned movie," thundered an enormous man from the back of the line. "Fox News is a lot worse!"

"I've already got the movie off the Net," one of the kids whispered to his friend's mother. "I just wanted to see it on the big screen. We can watch it at home if we have to."

I wasn't budging. The cop didn't seem anxious to get too involved with this particular kind of law enforcement. The manager, flushed, relented. "You can take them in, but you have to stay with them the whole time," he told me.

"Can I go to the bathroom?" I asked. "Is it okay with you if I stretch my legs? Can I come out for popcorn. Can I call my sick mom in Boise?"

The mother's jaw was open, but then she smiled, said thanks. "I've got to get to work," she said. I was going to reassure her, tell her that I watched "Beavis & Butt-head" with my daughter when she was eight or nine, both of us howling with laughter, but I thought better of it. "Good luck," she said. "Kids, call me if you can't get in or something happens."

So I marched in with the five boys, who were looking at me warily, hoping I wasn't actually some preacher. A teenaged usher followed us inside and stood nearby with folded arms. When I got up to go see my movie (I'd bought tickets to both), she stepped in front of me. "You have to stay," she said.

"I've got a rare kidney disease," I told her. "I have to go to the bathroom a lot. You can come with me if you want, but it takes a while. Is that okay with you? Do you want a note from my doctor?"

She didn't really know what to say, and we both knew she wasn't doing this voluntarily. She smiled and sat down, and I sent to see "Eyes Wide Shut." Every fifteen minutes or so, I popped back to check on the kids, at one point catching the great "Uncle Fucker" song. They were convulsed, but seemed other unchanged, morally speaking.

But this was a small and temporal victory. It's time to start fighting back against Ticket Booth Fascism. Who put these arrogant movie chain execs and clerks in charge of our movie-making decisions? What gives them the right to interfere with our ability to decide what our kids can see? How can movie chains - of all institutions -- buy into the profoundly stupid and demonstrably false idea that movies featuring explicit language and sex contribute to tragedies like Columbine?

In practical terms, don't they grasp that they are simply teaching a whole generation how to get their movies on the Net and the Web - something that will be quite simple in a year or so for millions of Americans -- rather than go to theaters and subject themselves to patronizing, humiliating - and completely pointless - hassles? Haven't theater chains ever ever heard the term "MP3?"

Monday, Part Two: a proposal: Take a Geek Kid To A Restricted Movie Day.

This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Let Us In, Uncle Fuckers

Comments Filter:
  • by Anonymous Coward
    I'm an 18 year old male geek who also attempts to lead a semi-normal social life on the side. I can recall going to see Die Hard 2 in the theater a few years back, my first R-rated movie in a theater. I was with one other friend, who was the same age as me. We both bought tickets with no problem.
    Since then, I've seen quite a few R-rated movies and never once was I carded...until a couple weeks ago. I went to see American Pie with three friends ranging in age from 16-19. They asked for ID and I had to buy tickets for the two people there who were 'underaged'.
    Regarding American Pie, it does a very good job at portraying typical high school life. The kids in the movie talk and act like high schoolers. I honestly don't think that anyone older than 15 would hear or see anything in the movie that they haven't seen or heard before. Oh no-there were naked breasts in the movie! Guess what Hollywood, I've seen em in real life.
    Kids are growing up fast these days, and its plain silly to make them wait until they are 18 to see a movie like this, considering the high schools they go to every day.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    You make some good points, but its silly to believe that those kids will be any more inclined to lie because of John Katz's actions. But then again its silly to believe that everyone who sees southpark will become muderous, foul mouthed, sexual satanists.

    It comes down to this: it is your responsibility to control your children. If you don't want your children to see this movie thats fine - don't take them, and if they decide to go anyways handle that in your own way. But don't make it difficult for everyone who doesn't subscribe to your beliefs to follow there own.

    Whether John Katz was correct in lying raises the age old question of whether the means justify the ends. Is it alright to lie if it acheives what you believe is correct? Its a difficult question.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    you did something good for a change


    Last time I checked, "lying" was bad. Let's not call evil good and good evil.

    Weak families are the problem

    The parent who "had to get to work" probably best demonstrates the real problem behind the catastrophic violence and frustration happening in our high schools. How surprised were you to find out that the parents of the columbine masterminds didn't know what their sons were building in the garage, were afraid of stepping foot in their room, etc. Their attitude was "I don't have time for my children." Although none of us want to admit it, it's a rampant problem in America right now. Can "quality time" with our children in their most formative years be substituted for making an effort to check the webcam in the day care center a couple of times each day? Can "quality time" with our adolescent children include rated R movies? Let's make sure our children aren't left out.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    What are you talking about!? Fines?! There is no government institution which sets up ratings. The MPAA is a film industry organization. There are no fines are jail time for people seeing movies that are "under age" by the MPAA's standards.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    i would never ordinarily do something like this, but my God, Jon Katz, you're a fucking idiot. I thought the amazon.com article was bad, but I managed to contain myself on that. Your disrespect for the cinema's rules are worse than their trying to enforce them...it's THEIR right to make and use the rules they wish, and your interfering, lying, and scheming only makes it harder for everyone else, except a few ratty teens and a stressed-out mom "in a big rush" (doesn't that seem to be the excuse for everything these days?). If you want to make real, meaningful change, if you truly believe kids should be allowed to watch pornography, why not take action in the approriate way? Why not write to your congressman or the cinema owners, or battle it out with someone who could _possibly_ make a change? No...instead you preach to an annoying, quite stupid, and flaming horde of pure followers like slashdot, where you know everyone will accept your every word as the spoken truth. You, Jon Katz, are an idiot.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    The herding-off of the crowd after a movie annoys me. One local theatre here tried that for a while, blockading the hallway & forcing the crowd out a side door (On the back of the building) - not only did you have to hike all the way around the building to get back to the parking lot, the restrooms were on the *other* side of the barricade.

    Hmm...they sell soda in cups that have to be moved by hand-truck, and they want to block the bathroom...bad, bad idea. First time I came across it, I walked past the first employee, headed to the bathroom - the second employee stopped me, saying "you have to exit that way". I explained the need for a bathroom... he still refused, until I started unzipping my pants. (Hey, I *really* needed to go, okay?) At that point, he decided to let me past. A lot of others must have protested in some fashion, because after less than a month, they stopped that silliness...
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 26, 1999 @05:39AM (#1783670)
    Libertarianism is NOT the philosophy of "the hell with you, I'm going to do what I want." Maybe it's the philosophy of "the hell with the government..." but it's definately not about dismissing other individuals. For a libertarian society to work, it requires us to be MORE respectful of other's rights, not less.

    In other words, if I own a movie theatre and I require 17-year-olds (or 30-year-old idiot writers, for that matter) to be accompanied by a mature adult in order to see certain movies, that's MY RIGHT just as much as it's YOUR RIGHT to go to a different movie theatre.

    I think it's a shame that well-meaning people can't try to help society back towards decency without some self-righteous, self-styled "libertarian" getting all bent out of shape about it.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 26, 1999 @07:15AM (#1783671)
    Last time I checked, "lying" was bad. Let's not call evil good and good evil.

    Shouts can be heard from outside the locked door. "Open up! Open up I say!"

    The old woman answers in a frightened voice "Who's there?"

    "The police! Open up! Now!"

    She unlocks the door and begins to open it. Immediately several armed secret police push her aside and enter the small building.

    The old woman aproaches the head officer. "What is this about?"

    Seemingly noticing her for the first time, he gives her a long cold look before replying. "We're looking for unregistered jews."

    She laughs, "There are no jews here."

    With a look of distain he disregards her and barks out orders to the others. Turning over breaking furniture, they search the four small rooms. She watches silently, not moving.

    Satisfied with their throughness, they stop. Out the front door they go as quickly as they came in.

    She steps outside into the morning sun. Its a bright day, unusual for this time of year. Sitting on the stoop watching the police go from house to house she listens to their shouts. Listens to them turn today upside down, turn lives upside down. Hours pass before they are through.

    The last band of the thugs leave just as dusk comes, their duty finished for the day. She listens to them leave as she looks at the new night sky. Cold winds begin to blow. Time to go back inside to warmth, to life.

    Closing the door behind her and pushing debris away she makes her way to the hearth. There, she kneels. She strains to pull the large stone lose. Small hands push from the other side as the stone is lifted away. "Its alright now. They're gone." A small face in the darkness squints against the fading light and smiles. She smiles back. "I won't let them have you. Never."
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 26, 1999 @06:08AM (#1783672)
    I think one of the greatest things about South Park: Bigger Longer, and Uncut, is that one of the main themes is exactly what Katz is talking about here. I saw an interview with South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone, and they had a lot to say about the Motion Picture Association of America. For those of you who don't know, the MPAA is the agency that rates movies, and all that fun stuff. One of the best quotes about them goes something like this [not a direct quote]:

    "What we did was create a movie with all the gore we possibly could, with a huge war scene, people dying left and right, and immense amounts of death, destruction, blood, and all around violence. We showed it to the MPAA, and all they said was 'take out the rimjob joke, and it's ok'."

    The hypocrisy that is prevalent in today's morality movements is ridiculous. You can turn on cable TV (sometimes even good old network tv!) and see people being eviscerated, but if a program contains a "dirty" word, or (*horror!*) a breast, it is relegated to pay-per-view or a premium channel.

    Another non-direct (but close) quote from Kyle's Mom:

    "As you go into battle, just remember what the MPAA says: Horrific, deplorable violence is OK, as long as nobody says any naughty words!"

    The morality pushers are mostly hypocrites, and usually hypocrites who are too lazy to raise their own kids, and want the government to do it for them. It is not the governments job to make sure your children don't watch movies you feel are inappropriate. It is YOUR job as a parent to do so. If you don't want your kids watching porn on the playboy channel, DON'T ORDER THE PLAYBOY CHANNEL. Or how about actually talking to your kids about things, or making an effort to raise your kids yourself?

    Of course, you could just bitch and moan and take freedom away from everybody in the name of morality so that the government can police everything you watch because you're too lazy to watch your own kids. That would be the easy thing to do. Sounds great. [/sarcasm]
  • by Pug ( 21 )
    Also interestingly is the fact that it seems the only way other than animation to get a G ratings is by having talking animals, which certainly is quite unreal. Of course, the rerelease of 2001 seems to have gotten a G as well, somehow, so it could be that the MPAA doesn't even watch the actual movies before rating them.
  • > the reasoning behind his little rampage was
    > revealed when it was discovered he had a copy of
    > Rambo in the house.

    Oh god... PLEASE tell me that you're not being serious here.. PLEASE.

    I'm so sick and tired of hearing everyone blame their problems on someone or something else. People are blaming their problems and their actions on video games, movies, tv, their parents, society, alien radio waves, and the color green.

    Why can't people admit that the kid who shot up his schoolmates was probably a pyscopath? That it had nothing to do with the fact that he liked to watch action movies?

    _I_ like to watch action movies. Would it be okay for me to go on a shooting rampage then? But it's not my fault! I saw Rambo, I, II, and III!!

    > People are assholes.

    Amen. A Person might not be, but People are.

  • > Robocop was edited to avoid NC-17

    Ooh, I'd love to see the NC-17 version of Robocop. I consider it to be a scifi classic, and I'd like to see the NC-17 version not simply because of the "NC-17", but because I'd like to see it as close as the director had originally intended it.

    Alex Bischoff

  • I just checked -- it's called the "Criterion" Collection [bigstar.com]. I've also seen it listed as the "Director's Cut" elsewhere [800.com]. A choice quote from the first link:
    • This version includes the 'excessively violent' scenes which the MPAA made Verhoeven cut in order to obtain a more marketable R rating.
    Yes! That's now in my queue of DVDs-to-buy :).

    PS For coupons for cheaper DVDs, you may want to check out MoviePriceGuide [moviepriceguide.com].

    Alex Bischoff

  • I was out christmas shopping one time with my mom several years back. We were at a mall and were both looking in different stores. Just as I went to go join her in a toy store, she bumped a counter display and knocked it over. So I said with a perfectly straight face, "Clumsy bitch." The clerk just froze and stared at me, but after looking at his face my mom laughed and we both laughed about it on the way home. She knew that I didn't mean it in a bad way, it was just funny at the time. It's become a sort of inside joke between us. I've told the story to my friends and she's done the same and all of them are always shocked, so we just laugh some more.

    Words are just words. You can make them mean anything you want.
  • Go back to Iran. There, having the state press religion on people is legal -- look where it's gotten them.

    People like you give religion a bad name. You think that you're God's frickin' gift to humanity, here to set all of us unwashed pagan savages straight with your divine truth. People like you are responsible for the crusades and the inquisitions and the witch burnings of the world. Worse yet, you're the type of moron who would go to the Sistine Chapel and start painting boxers on all the nudes 'cause children might see Adam's dick.

    I mean, who the hell do you think you are to say that a parent shouldn't have the right to decide what their kid sees and hears? Who are you to try to deny people their basic rights (in this case access to information) because you don't agree with the source?

    Who died and made you the ultimate moral authority? Who are you to decide what I and my kids should or should not have access to?


  • American Nazis prevent US Kids from watching South Park Movie...But are us Canadians any better?

  • I'm not a bit surprised that Katz would turn himself into a hero by lying and cheating. At the same time I'm not a bit disturbed by the Mom letting her kids see South Park.
    If there was a lesson there, I prefer the Mom's. She extended trust under the assumption that her kids would place the comedy movie in its proper perspective. Katz's lesson was that if an authority figure was annoying you, the proper thing to do is sleaze around it, make up stories, and then manipulate the situation to 'win'.
    I'd have liked him better if he said, "Okay. I am going to walk these kids into the theater, and I'll be looking in on them every half hour or so. Deal with it. I'm a journalist and a responsible person, and you have my word that I'll keep an eye on them, though I think it's ludicrous."
    Instead he spun a whole line of sleazy boomer *bleeeeep* and expects us to consider this _laudable!_ This is supposed to signify his becoming libertarian. His _refusal_ to make a stand on the matter is supposed to signify the depth of his committment.
    Well, it does. You can't have it both ways. He preferred to play games. He could have done a number of things, among them returning his tickets and asking for his money back- but noooooo, Jon wants to be the rebel, Jon will play a trick on the mean nasty authority figures less than half his age. *feh*
    Next time we have an article on this, can it be from somebody who actually took a _stand_ on the matter instead of playing little games with it?
  • I am not sure quite how to respond to a story like this... You see, I happen to be a part of a minority (?) group of Slashdot readers who actually think that such moral limitations and the so on are actually worthwhile. I think the real problem I see here is on the part of the author and the mother. First off, the author. I am amazed that the author of this story can turn himself into a hero by lying and cheating. Now, I am sure that you can come up with all kinds of reasons to tell me all that doesn't matter - they can already get it off the web, nobody was getting hurt, yada yada yada. The truth of the matter is this: IT WAS WRONG. It was a lie and an embarrassment to the concept of freedom which you chose to abuse on that day. Shame on you.

    I don't see the problem of it. The mother wanted her children to see the movie, and Katz offerend to let them do so without forcing the mother to take up her time seeing a movie that she herself may not have particularly cared about.

    And to the mother. That a woman when even consider to take her children to such a show is an embarrassment to the word mother. "Mom" is a word which represents a caring, nuturing class of women who have the BEST interest of the children in mind. Come on, figure it out here, people. How can anyone ignore the crud that comes out of South Park.

    Have you seen the movie yourself, or are you merely ranting about subjects with which you are not acquainted? The moral message that southpark, through its use of satire, gave was that people should be personally responsible. If a kid does something bad, blame the kid, not the movies/tv shows/books/music that you think could have possibly influenced him or her to do so. How is a movie about personal responsibility and good parenting a bad thing to have your children watch?

    As a Christian in this nation I say enough is enough. I don't want to see the people on the fringe of society et abused whenever something like Columbine happens. I do, however, want to see americans start standing up for a little decency and the like.

    Your definition of "decency" or mine? As an agnostic in this nation, I find the degrading of women and violence in the Old Testament to be offensive (see the section where God commands the israelites to, ahem, "use," their female prisoners)

    And about the "Ten Commandments" comment in the first part of your story - give me a break. Our country is closer now to "religious discrimination" then in ever has been - but only in the context of restricting prayer in school and the like. I'd say more, but I don't have the time.

    Prayer is not restricted in schools. A child may pray at his or her convenience as long as it does not interrupt the class. Any free time the child has may be used for prayer, meditation, or whatever else the child chooses to do quietly.

    Other Christian Slashdot readers: SPEAK UP! Don't fight with me over ANY of the little details in my post here and just band together to raise the voice that we DO HAVE.

    You make the fallacious assumption that all Christians agree with your viewpoint. I personally know many Christians, including my parents, who are not right-wing fundamentalists of the Christian Coalition variety. In fact, if you took the time out of your busy schedule to actually read the Bible, you'll notice that it specifically forbids making a public show of prayer, as the Pharisees did, and instead commands that prayer be done quietly in your own home. If you believe in the Bible, I don't see how you could favor teacher-led school prayer. I know several devout Christians who oppose it for that reason - not only is it sinful, but it cheapens prayer when it is a school-led mandatory action.
  • I agree with you, despite your sarcasm. In fact, in many European countries, there is no age requirement for the purchase of alcohol, and teenage alcoholism is actually lower than in the United States. Prohibition does not solve problems.
  • Thanks for an insightful comment...glad to see that not all Christians in this country are fanatics of the Christian Coalition variety (it just seems that way if you hang out in alt.religion.christianity or #bible on IRC).
  • That's perfectly fine with me. In many states (including Texas), it's also legal for children of any age to drink, as long as their parents buy the alcohol and supervise them consuming it.

    In many European countries, the 12-year-old can purchase the alcohol him or herself, legally. I first had alcohol in Greece, probably when I was around 4 or 5. I'm not an alcoholic (I rarely drink). The teenage alcoholism rate in Europe is also lower than in the U.S., where this is not legal. Obviously the U.S. laws are counterproductive.
  • It's not their choice. Given the choice, they'd gladly let anybody into the theater, provided the person pays the $5 or whatever for a ticket (and preferably buys some of their overpriced popcorn). The two multiplexes near my house never asked me for an ID to get into R-rated movies when I was 14-16. Never once was I told I couldn't get in. In the last two weeks, however, I've been asked for my driver's license every time before I've been sold the ticket. This all comes in the wake of clinton's little "ask for IDs" schpiel, and the movie industry is complying in an attempt to stave off government regulation.

    In summary, they don't like checking IDs, but they'd rather do that than risk government intervention (such as making the "no under 17 people into R rated movies" rule a law, rather than just the "suggestion" it is now).
  • There is no law legally mandating the MPAA's age recommendations. Such a law would be an unconstitutional delegation of government authority to a private industry group, and hence would not stand up in court.

    The movie industry is voluntarily asking for IDs in an attempt to keep it this way. They don't want the government to set up its own movie ratings board which would make be able to make itself mandatory, so they're trying to say "look, we can take care of it ourselves" by doing this voluntarily.
  • You seem to be ignoring the difference between government allowing religion and government supporting religion. The first is required, the second is not allowed. Your first example, a Bible study group, is indeed allowed in schools, as long as other religions are allowed to form their own groups (if the other religions wish to do so). Get more facts before making patently false assertions.

    The ten commandments are allowed in schools if you are studying them as a religious document. As a "this is the morality you should follow" document, they are unquestionably not allowed. The commandment "Thou shalt have no other gods before me" is offensive towards members of other religions. "Thou shalt honor the sabbath day and keep it holy" has no place in a public school - what business of the school's is it what you do on Saturday or Sunday (whichever one your religion considers the Sabbath)?

    As for Judeo-Christian, the Old Testament is Judeo-Christian. That's a fact. It's a holy book that is shared by the Jewish and Christian faiths. Since the exact same book is used by both faiths, I don't see how the term "Judeo-Christian" is misapplied in this case.

    Finally, the MPAA is not society. The MPAA is an industry group that has its opinions as to what kids should see. Many parents, including my own, differ greatly in opinion with the MPAA. The MPAA is basically committed to keeping kids from seeing nudity and foul language, while allowing them to see as much violence as they want. It is not a question of occasional screw-ups, it's constant. Perhaps it's the Puritan legacy of America that makes us afraid of sex, perhaps it's something else.
  • Oh you must be thinking of the Constitution. I don't recall Congress being too worried about that document. It does forbid a standing army, after all, and guess what, we have a standing army.

    Anyway, they'd probably weasel something in such as tying it to some sort of grant..."Make age restrictions on movies or we don't give you federal highway funding." That's how the gvt. finally forced Louisiana to raise the drinking age to 21 (The majority of Louisianians favored keeping it at 18, but they had little choice. Nice democracy we have.)
  • "To compel a man to furnish contributions of money for the propagation of opinions which he disbelieves and abhors, is sinful and tyrannical." --Thomas Jefferson, Statute for Religious Freedom, 1779.

    I disbelieve and abhor religion in public schools and the government support of religion, as do many people. Obviously, Thomas Jefferson would therefore oppose any such government support of religion (the above lines were specifically written in opposition to government support of religion, as can be deduced from the title of the statute).
  • No. I also think all-or-nothing solutions should be avoided. If Christianity and Buddahism (sp?) are allowed a presence in school (not mandated), why does satanism have to be allowed?

    Because either you allow all religions, or you allow no religions. Anything less is religious descrimination, and therefore unconstitutional. You cannot say "I will only allow the religions I like."
  • Then perhaps the people saying these things are not mature enough themselves to understand what satire is.
  • The legal age in Germany is 16.
    Greece has no age limit (anybody can purchase).
    The UK is 16, IIRC.
  • If Thomas Jefferson favored religion, I doubt he would've said any of the following:

    "I have examined all the known superstitions of the world, and I do not find in our particular superstition of Christianity one redeeming feature. They are all alike founded on fables and mythology. Millions of innocent men, women and children, since the introduction of Christianity, have been burnt, tortured, fined and imprisoned. What has been the effect of this coercion? To make one half the world fools and the other half hypocrites; to support roguery and error all over the earth." -Thomas Jefferson

    "In every country and in every age, the priest has been hostile to liberty. He is always in alliance with the despot, abetting his abuses in return for protection to his own." -Thomas Jefferson to Horatio G. Spafford, 1814.

    "History, I believe, furnishes no example of a priest-ridden people maintaining a free civil government. This marks the lowest grade of ignorance of which their civil as well as religious leaders will always avail themselves for their own purposes." -Thomas Jefferson to Alexander von Humboldt, 1813.

    "Shake off all the fears of servile prejudices, under which weak minds are servilely crouched. Fix reason firmly in her seat, and call on her tribunal for every fact, every opinion. Question with boldness even the existence of a God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason than that of blindfolded fear." - Thomas Jefferson, letter to Peter Carr, Aug. 10, 1787
  • You are absolutely correct. Movie theatres aren't turning away potential customers because they want to. They're doing so because they were threatened. The government basically said "enforce your own stated policies, or we will pass even more draconian laws regarding your business."

  • One thing you must remember is that the Constitution applies only when the Supremes (the justices of the Supreme Court) says it applies. Thus the Supremes condone blatant violation of the 'takings' clause of the 5th Amendement (see http://www.fear.org ) on the shallowest of pretenses, and I'm sure they could find some shallow pretense to allow stepping into the motion picture industry's puddle ("films are distributed across state lines" or some similar bunk).

    Whether they would, in fact, uphold such restrictions is another issue altogether, but never believe that something can't be done just because the Constitution says so. The Constitution, as far as the law is concerned, says what the Supremes say it says. For the most part this makes it about as useful as toilet paper if the Supremes disagree with you.

  • by Eric Green ( 627 ) on Monday July 26, 1999 @07:24AM (#1783696) Homepage
    The motion picture rating system is a voluntary system created by the motion picture industry. Unless local jurisdictions say otherwise, these ratings are recommendations, not legally binding requirements. Local jurisdictions usually have laws only regarding "X"-rated pictures, since those qualify as "obscenity" under Supreme Court rulings and thus are not considered to be a "free speech" issue.
    In other words, you can't blame your local politicians for the theatre hassling your kids. This is something the cinema chains are doing themselves, and that, as private businesses, they have every right to do (no matter how much we disagree). It's like Wal-Mart refusing to carry "skin" magazines and "obscene" albums. While I disagree vehemently with their reasoning, forcing them to do something they don't want to do is just as wrong.

  • Oh, give me a break. In case you haven't noticed, we are six months away from the twenty-first century, and the earth ain't getting any bigger. Pardon me for being facetious, but I don't think even God forsaw a world population of _six_billion_ people (within a few decades from now). I can assure you the apostles and the writers of the Bible didn't.

    Have you ever been outside of the United States and the industrialized "first world"? Spend some time in East Africa and tell the locals that food shortages are a lie. Go to India and tell them overpopulation is "120% false". These aren't lies, they are _truths_ perpetuated by those who love and worship money, and those who are too complacent to realize their own complicity. (Yes, that includes myself and almost every other American.)

    Here's some "sophist" propaganda [adbusters.org] you might find interesting. I invite you to participate.

  • Umm, Janus head, what's that??

    Don't forget, not only are we Americans morally confused, we're also culturally illiterate... :)
  • I agree with your point that the main problem is lack of understanding of how to wisely use what we do have, and that if that were possible, most of the current global problems -- in their current state -- could be solved.

    But there are limits -- absolute limits. I don't think anyone would reasonably argue that the planet earth could sustain a population of fifty billion humans, without destroying practically the whole ecology or else drastically cutting back the material lifestyle of the industrialized world. No matter how efficient society gets, no matter how advanced technology gets, there is only so much raw matter to go around. And getting back to the original point, having more than four children in this day and age and society isn't helping in this regard.

    If "sophism" means believing that imperfect scientists and politicians, studying the world that they live in, are more qualified to solve modern mankind's complex problems than wise old men from thousands of years ago, I'm a sophist.

    Hope? Let's not confuse hope with complacency. I think that taking an informed and realistic, perhaps even pessimistic and grim, view of the matter, and using that as motivation to improve things, goes a lot farther than glibly throwing out a scripture verse and trusting God to take care of things somehow.
  • "You can teach my kids about Jesus when I get to teach yours about Buddha. Is it a deal?"

    If your kids want to learn about Jesus and mine want to learn about Buddha... deal.

    We're not asking anything as unreasonable as you seem to imply. Who ever said they had "a right to force [your] children to worship [my] god in the public schools"? I certainly never did.

    Do I want MY children to have the right to worship THEIR god in public schools? Yes. Do I want YOUR children to have the right to worship their god in public schools? Yes.

    This is what the whole prayer-in-school thing is really about. Tell me what's wrong with it.
  • I'm a Christian and a member of the Libertarian party.

    I'd like to ask you where you see the incompatibility between the two.

    As for Katz... I think he should have stood up for his position directly rather than lying over it. Nonetheless, kids aren't that impressionable. I've known plenty of liars, but that doesn't make me consider them any less disreputable or be willing to become one myself.
  • Hmm... so if we allow prayers in high school, will you allow chants before class for the *gasp* Heathen pagans? What about 5 minute meditation for people who like to clear their minds of excess thoughts?

    Fine by me.

    Personally, if you want to pray in school.. FINE, but do it on your own, not over the school's PA, forcing non-believers to listen to it as well. Because that is closer to religious discrimination

    I agree. Who ever said anything about the PA? There have been cases of kids being sent home for silently praying on their own. This is what I have trouble with.

  • by AndyS ( 655 )
    In the UK we have it a lot worse.

    Our equivalent to your "R" rating is our 15 rating - nobody under 15 can go into the cinema, by law. Which I'm afraid, I would agree with. When I went to see Southpark I saw loads of 7 and 8 year olds, which I thought was pretty bad - those kids should not really have been watching it.

    Kids will find these things out, but there's no need to make it ridiculously easy - the thing has got to be to make sure that it isn't made unavailable to those old enough (and mature enough) to see it.
  • So, if I don't like the policies of this government, I can just go and deal with the competing government across the street, right?

    Tell me again how the private sector is a greater threat...

    I'm no big fan of big business, but big government is not *my* friend. It is the friend of that very same big business.


  • Jon Katz, I've read your articles, and I'm not always particularly impressed, but in this case... Well, you have to pick which battles to fight, and this one sounds entertaining.

    I saw the South Park movie, and although I'm certainly old enough (21), I am of course in favor of letting whoever (a) wants to see the movie and (b) thinks they can handle satire, to see the movie. Of course this cuts out the religious right, but by and large, most teenagers and some adults fit this criteria.

    Why blame other people for not censoring you when you should be perfectly capable of censoring yourself? Why should movie theaters enforce that the parents be there the whole time, when you can confirm that they have the parent's permission? Isn't that what it's supposed to be all about?

    Bah. I hate politics, and arbitrary laws based on age. Don't ask me for my opinions on uniforms in public schools, because I'll tell you.
  • if you don't want to watch them under thier rules then don't go.

    That's the beginnings of discrimination and control. It is also a very slippery slope. One theatre going Moral Majority isn't really the big deal, it's that MANY are doing that in response to hysteria over an unrelated incident.

    Although I don't expect to see any world wars over this one, you must remember that Adolph Hitler rose to and consolidated his power in small steps down the slope, all based on desperation over the economy. The economy wasn't his agenda, it was his excuse. The actions he took had little to do with solving the problem, but they didn't have to, they just had to look like they did.

    We know what the hysteria is, and we know some of the small steps, now the question is what is the actual agenda, and whose is it? (I suspect there are several whos and agendas)

    It's all about people who may or may not even have kids presuming themselves to be some sort of authority on parenthood and then forcing their opinions on others.

  • Weak families are the problem

    Weak families are a link in the problem. The real problem is not being able to make a good living for your family without two incomes and lack of flexibility in employment.

    What would you think of that parent if she quit her job and didn't have enough money to provide for the kids?

    Let's face it, at one time, a house cost %25 of a single average income. Now it costs half. That doesn't bode well for those making less than average, especially after divorse or death of a spouse. Why don't the parents spend more time with their kids? Because employers that pay above minimum tend to expect 40+ hours a week and people who take days off are the first to be fired.

  • Are you sure that watching a movie is a "basic right"?

    I am. Just like reading a book or expressing an opinion. Speech means more than just talking, it includes any form of communication including a movie

  • stopping after they read the "establishment of religion part.

    The problem is, once laws are passed based on morals and parenting, you are prohibiting the free practice of any religion that has different theories.

    The issue becomes more complex when interactions between people with different beliefs gets into the picture. To make a bizarre example:

    Someone who's religion tells him that all kids MUST see South Park would believe that of your kids as well as his. You (and I mean a theoretical you, I don't know what you believe) believe that no kids should see it.

    The best compromise is to say that he can't take your kids to see the movie, and you can't prevent his kids from seeing it. Anything else respects one religion over the other.

  • How are we supposed to have prayers that meet all the needs of these people?

    To whom it may concern...or not.....keep up the good work (if any)!

  • The same thing I do for any obscure movie, go to a theater that does show it, or rent it.

    If they want to not show it at all, they are free to do that. They will go out of business (since if they won't show South Park, there are many other big movies they won't show), and someone who wants to make money will buy the theatre. If nobody shows it, it'll show up for rental a lot sooner. (Personally, I prefer rent/pay-per-view anyway, I hate crowds).

    Followup study: in a month or two, when they can either fill the seats or keep 15 year olds from watching, will they be as 'vigilant' about the rating?

  • Watching a movie? Okay...

    Sure! otherwise, we'd all end up free to say, write, or film anything we wanted, but it would be a felony for anyone to listen read or watch. Communication (Speech) can only happen if one is free to speak and listen.

  • Would someone care to explain why ?

    Because telling parents they are free to restrict what their kids watch on TV affirms their rights and responsabilities as parents.

    Telling parents they may NOT choose to let their kids watch an R rated movie by themselves denies their rights and responsabilities as parents.

    In other words, the first case is a choice to be made, the second is getting no choice.

  • but isn't an R rating to say that a child may watch only if accompanied by an adult.

    That's what it says. That doesn't make it a good thing. That's the entire point.

    If a parent wants to buy tickets to an R rated movie and hand them to their child, who is a theatre manager to say that's unacceptable parenting and refuse to allow it. Especially if the child is 15.

    In other words if you want your child to watch it you choose to accompany them and if you dont then you dont accompany them.

    In that case, people in China have total freedom of speech and to assemble. In other words if you want to protest the government, you choose to get run over by tanks and if you don't then you don't get run over by tanks.

    Extreme example? absolutly!

    The point is that the mother decided that her kids were old enough to watch the movie by themselves, and the theater manager questioned her right to make that determination about her own children.

  • No, the theatre manager was attempting to follow the rule of law.

    One, there is no such law! The ratings system was instituted by the industry, not by law.

    Two, up until recently, that rule was routinly ignored by nearly every theatre in the country. I used to see R rated movies routinely (my parents were aware of that and did not object). I was never refused admission even though my parents were never with me to buy the ticket. I once heard about someone being carded for an R rated movie. It was such an unusual thing that the person (and everyone else) thought it was funny. Surely, if that was such an 'important law' thousande of theatre managers would be UNDER the jail by now.

    There are LOTS of situations where children must be accompanied by adults. This is not an infringement of 'rights'.

    In those situations, it is not an infringement because it is to prevent unsupervised children. Theatres clearly don't mind unsupervised children since parents often have their kids watch one movie while they watch another. By the time the kids reach their teens, the parents drop them off, and pick them up after the movie. Thus, to refuse based on movie rating, even with the parent buying the ticket, they are telling parents how to parent, not trying to avoid dealing with unsupervised children. There IS a difference. It is one of attitude. It does matter.

  • Looks like it's best if we agree to disagree on this one. :-)

  • The rating rules were set in place to keep underage children from seeing things that they probably aren't developed enough to see. The point in having the parent there with them to see R movies is if it's worst than they thought it was going to be, to take them out. Kids are allways going to tell the parents it's not that bad. If the parent is in the theater with them, they see just how bad it really is. You have just taught those kids it's ok to lie about who you are to get what you want. Is this the part you are most proud of, or helping these kids see a movie full of violence, foul language, sex, satanism and whatever else youi can think of.

    I hope you didn't think this stunt is going to make those of us who hate your writing style, like you for other reasons. Ok, so you just gained the respect of every 15year old male that reads slashdot. You just lost the respect of most of the parents that read /.
  • Many movie theatres, by fiat, will not show anything stronger than an "R" rating. And it matters not why it's rated NC-17. Wheather it's explicit sex, excessive violence (Robocop was edited to avoid NC-17), or just for the dialog ("[George] Carlin on Campus" got NC-17 and it's just stand up comedy; mere words!). Ratings are forcing Hollywood to limit their creativity or to butcher movies at the last minute. I don't need others to make decisions for me and my family. Only I, and no one else, has permission to exercise my own right of choice.
  • What does this have to do with the 10 Comandments? Someone needs to learn to cope with anti-religious paranoia. Even if you are not a Christian, most of that stuff still applies. Murder is against the law. So is robbery. It is bad to shag everything that moves because eventually, you will probably catch something (maybe). The whole gist of the thing (if you leave out the first two, which I think are the only ones actually to talk about God), is for us to be good to each other.

    Yes, there are a lot of Christian people who think that if you say "The Grass is green," and don't include God in it, that you are the spawn of Satan. But lumping all of us together like that, and dismissing what we belive in is tantamount to calling all hackers crackers.

    There are a lot of us in this community that openly embrace religion (and not just Christianity). I think that we are a silent minority, but we are here. I will not accept hostility toward my beliefs in God any more than I will against my beliefs for the Free and Open Source software communities.

    I do agree with you. This should be the decision of parents. I don't go see South Park because I just think it is moronic. I'm not going to stop any one else from seeing it though. Even though some "Christians" would try to stop people, doesn't mean you should just bundle us all together and label us fascists or something...
  • by ultrapenguin ( 2643 ) on Monday July 26, 1999 @05:24AM (#1783764)
    I am not sure quite how to respond to a story like this... You see, I happen to be a part of a minority (?) group of Slashdot readers who actually think that such moral limitations and the so on are actually worthwhile. I think the real problem I see here is on the part of the author and the mother. First off, the author. I am amazed that the author of this story can turn himself into a hero by lying and cheating. Now, I am sure that you can come up with all kinds of reasons to tell me all that doesn't matter - they can already get it off the web, nobody was getting hurt, yada yada yada. The truth of the matter is this: IT WAS WRONG. It was a lie and an embarrassment to the concept of freedom which you chose to abuse on that day. Shame on you. And to the mother. That a woman when even consider to take her children to such a show is an embarrassment to the word mother. "Mom" is a word which represents a caring, nuturing class of women who have the BEST interest of the children in mind. Come on, figure it out here, people. How can anyone ignore the crud that comes out of South Park. As a Christian in this nation I say enough is enough. I don't want to see the people on the fringe of society et abused whenever something like Columbine happens. I do, however, want to see americans start standing up for a little decency and the like. And about the "Ten Commandments" comment in the first part of your story - give me a break. Our country is closer now to "religious discrimination" then in ever has been - but only in the context of restricting prayer in school and the like. I'd say more, but I don't have the time. Other Christian Slashdot readers: SPEAK UP! Don't fight with me over ANY of the little details in my post here and just band together to raise the voice that we DO HAVE.
    Let love and faithfulness never leave you;
    bind them around your neck,
    write them on the tablet of your heart.
  • So, what movies have they released on MP3?
    <note the sarcasm>

    It's too bad stupidity isn't painful"

  • by jht ( 5006 ) on Monday July 26, 1999 @05:52AM (#1783781) Homepage Journal
    I saw "South Park" this Friday at my local Lowes googleplex - it was a riot. There were a few young'uns there, but it was mainly college-age kids and thirtysomethings with a sense of humor (I like to put myself in that category). It's outrageous how the fallout from Columbine has triggered such a knee-jerk reaction on the part of the Clinton administration ("You really _should_ ID kids - we wouldn't want to have to regulate you, would we?"). As if a potty-mouthed crude cartoon (and it's 'R' rated competition) is going to be the one influence that corrupts our "precious youth"!

    The truly disgraceful thing here is that we're gradually giving up our freedom of speech, and we're doing it voluntarily. I guess if "adult" themes like sexuality and language now must be kept from our impressionable youth, we'll just have to send them to see good, clean violent PG-13 movies. I'm so glad that we're protecting our young ones...

    When I was a teenager, I worked at an "alternative" cinema in Connecticut that showed all sorts of fare, mostly unrated. I remember 14-year old kids going to midnight Rocky Horror screenings (I didn't go to one of those until I was 16!) - underage kids seeing foreign films with extensive nudity, teenagers filling the place for the annual "splatterfest" (with movies like Basket Case, 10,000 Maniacs, and the original TCM), and all the classic John Waters films like Female Trouble and Pink Flamingos.

    Interestingly enough, we had no age policies at all, yet somehow our patrons didn't emerge from the theater to rape and pillage downtown Norwalk on a nightly basis. Go figure.

    Bottom line: people who are doomed to be the nutcases of society will find a trigger - regardless of our misguided efforts to protect them. If there are more of them nowadays I'd look first at the trend to absentee parenting and easy access to weaponry before I blame the media - though that's the "easy" answer. But this is a society that doesn't like to look any deeper than
    the surface.

    Remember - those who would willingly exchange liberty for security deserve neither.

    - -Josh Turiel
  • For example:

    "It is bad to shag everything that moves because eventually, you will probably catch something (maybe)."

    Not in my morality, I personally think promiscuity is admirable and enjoyable, and view STDs as a unforunate nuisance awaiting solving, not some sort of moral guide :-)
  • Quoted Text:
    • Well as much as I disagree with the theater's overreactive policies I can understand somewhat where they are coming from. They're being hit right and left by politics and all they want to do is make money, not fight moral wars

    But the point is that by placing themselves on the front lines of the assault, they ARE fighting the moral war. There would be no moral war taking place at the theaters if there were no teenaged ticket-taking soldiers poised at attention on the popcorn-butter stained battlegrounds.

  • The more insanely stupid, assinnine and bigoted the USA will become, the more Europe will win the day.

    Way to go, yanks!!!! Way to go!!!

    -- ----------------------------------------------
    Vive le logiciel... Libre!!!

  • Now, I will admit that I have not seen it, nor have I seen the TV series, but it was my impression that the show lampoons the often-vicious culture of childhood.

    Porn, in both my opinion and that of the law, is defined as material that has a sexually arousing effect on the reader or viewer. As far as I know, South Park is in no way sexually exciting.

    So why is it porn?

    Just asking.


  • >It is unfortunate that expressing a pro-restriction POV is likely to attract flames from the ultra-liberal section of the Slashdot readership.

    I'm on the far right, and I criticized his POV. It's not just liberal who are againstunfounded restriction.

    >Is there anything anywhere which says all geeks have to be libertarians, totally opposed to all forms of restriction?

    Geeks, by nature, are free thinkers. Restriction and free thinking do not go together.

    >FWIW, I agree with you on the movie ratings thing. I use them as a guideline myself; I skip anything with a 15 or 18 rating and wait for the edited-for-TV version.

    Great, that works for you. I prefer to see the artists original vision of what their work should look like.

    If I decide that the artistic and historical significance of movies like Schindler's List and Amistad are more important than the detriment of a few seconds of jiggling boobs , and I want my children to see them, then it's MY decision to make.

  • I don't know if I'm speaking for the majority of other Slashdot readers, or in fact, anyone except me. But I felt the need to respond to your posting.
    I am amazed that the author of this story can turn himself into a hero by lying and cheating. Now, I am sure that you can come up with all kinds of reasons to tell me all that doesn't matter... The truth of the matter is this: IT WAS WRONG. It was a lie and an embarrassment to the concept of freedom...

    I don't think anyone here is willing to go out on a limb and say that Jon is a hero. Given the (brief) correspondences I've had with him in the past, I'd go so far as to say that he'd deny the charge vehemently.

    As for the lying, I firmly believe that telling an unbelievable, bald-faced lie can be justified for the purpose of making a larger point. Here, the point was that it would somehow be acceptable to view the movie if one was in the company of a pastor, and was doing it purely for the purpose of "religious teaching".

    That a woman when even consider to take her children to such a show is an embarrassment to the word mother. "Mom" is a word which represents a caring, nuturing class of women who have the BEST interest of the children in mind. Come on, figure it out here, people.

    What I find obscene is the notion that the MPAA (or worse, right-wing fundamentalists) can seek to impose on parents a ready-made, cookie-cutter template for what it's okay to show their kids. Whether you think kids should have been allowed to see the movie is irrelevant: it's the responsibility of the parents

    And about the "Ten Commandments" comment in the first part of your story - give me a break. Our country is closer now to "religious discrimination" then in ever has been - but only in the context of restricting prayer in school and the like
    Speaking as a kid who grew up Jewish in an overwhelmingly Christian neighborhood, shame on you for saying that. You have no idea what institutionalized prayer does to children who are in the minority. I have very clear recollections of children asserting, perfectly straight-faced, that I was going to hell because "your people killed Jesus." When I need some advice on how oppressed Christians are in the USA - "one nation, under God" - I'll let you know.
    Other Christian Slashdot readers: SPEAK UP! Don't fight with me over ANY of the little details in my post here and just band together to raise the voice that we DO HAVE.
    With respect, this doesn't seem like the best way to encourage thoughtful debate. I may not be a Christian, but I like to think of myself as having a pretty well thought out code of ethics. It bothers me that not only do you seem to think that your own version is applicable to everyone, but that voices disagreeing with yours should be silenced.
  • The fundamental assumption that age corresponds directly to maturity and the ability to deal with intense (be it violent, sexual, or whatever) subject matter is insane. My parents let me see rated R movies when I was well under 17, and I remember sitting and watching George Carlin on HBO with my dad! Have I turned out a malevolent sociopath? No, I'm probably the most "normal" person I know.

    On the other hand there are some children who are too immature to deal with some movies, and it should be up to their parents to invoke that control. I was sitting in Titanic and got treated to some kid sitting behind us doing his best Beavis impression when they had the one nude scene in the entire movie. Boy did that ruin the whole atmosphere of the movie.

    Really though when you get down to it, it's not so much the fundamentalists that are the problem, but rather those parents who don't take care of their kids. Parents who rely on television and the public school systems to keep their kids in line. If parents depend on the government to do their jobs for them, the government will do that job (God help us all!). Ultimately I want to be able to raise my kids the way I want, without the interferece of the right wing, or the government.


  • One side says the Bible is being pushed on those who don't want it and the other side says it's being taken away from those who want it. The sad truth is both are correct.
    We pass laws all the time that force people to live by the morals of the christan religion yet we ban all other aspects of this religion. It's hypocritcal.

    Basicly I can ware a cross anyplace I like but no other religous symbol. However I can read any religous text any place I like as long as it's not the Bible. Of course I can't pray in any relgion any place becouse someone will be offended and I can't use religously nutral language becouse someone might be offended.
    I kinda gave up the whole thing put on my pentigram and carryed my Bible where ever I please and let people get bent when an evil Pagan is reading the Bible at starbucks.
  • You requested response from fellow Christian Slashdot readers... here ya go...

    I know you didn't want a point-by-point review, but it's the way I operate -- after all, I'm an engineer. If I have to agree with all-or-nothing, I'll have to disagree with the whole thing. However, I believe you made some very good points, and so I'm gonna have to line-item this one....

    • I agree that the author was wrong in misrepresenting himself. By taking those kids into the theater under false pretenses (and a false religious pretense, no less), he was (IMHO) doing more harm to those children than the movie did.

    • I also agree that the mother shouldn't have let her children see that movie. Or, if she insisted on letting them, she should have been there with them; however...

    • ... She is their mother. It is HER responsibility to raise her children, and to determine if they are to see such things or not. It is not the responsibility of the theater to raise her children. If she wants the children to see the movie, it is not my job to tell them that they can't; however...

    • ... I believe that the "R" rating prohibits children under 17 from entering without an "accompanying parent or adult guardian." The theaters have every right to enforce this.. and, remember, a legal guardian isn't your 18-year old brother.

    • As for your "religious discrimination" comment, here's my experience: I have yet to see a school that bans personal prayer. If one exists, it needs to be fixed or shut down. The US Constitution guarantees me the right to pray when I want, to whom I want.

    • What I HAVE seen, though, is schools that ban organized prayers during school functions. If you think this is such a bad thing, consider the following: Throughout my high-school years, and on into college, I was an Atheist. Even though we didn't have organized prayer in school, 99% of the people around me were (or claimed to be)Christians, and looked down on me because I wasn't. People were constantly trying to force their religion down my throat. I naturally rebelled, and wanted no part in it. Only after I went to college, and got away from that crap was I actually free to make a choice on my own. In the end, I chose God. The overwhelming weight of the religious right in my community growing up was the one thing that stood between me and God for all too long.

    • As for those who have complained about seeing unattended 7 and 8 year olds in movies like "South Park" and "Beavis & Butthead"... I wouldn't know. I don't go see those movies. I practice my morality more than I preach it. If it's not suitable for children, it's not suitable for me.

    • As for those readers who want to see these movies.. go for it. For those who want to take their kids to see these movies.. go for it. I might not agree with the choice, but it's your choice, not mine.

  • Why is it every comment from a "Christian" involves shoving morals down someone's throught. Who are you to decide what the "best interest" of her children are? Who's to say what you beleive is better than anybody else's beleifs?

    Why don't you go run to the other side of the river and rape/pillage. After all, as long as it's the other side of the river, it's OK, right?

    Better yet, declare a holy war over America. Kill thousands of people who don't beleive in Christianity. Do it "in the name of God". After all, since you're doing it for "God" it's OK, right? Have armed guards at the theatres who shoot any parent that is seen leaving the theatre after their children are admitted.

    Demand that your religious beliefs be taught to children everywhere. Force them to go to Sunday school. Heck, why not make a Christian anthem or salute. Make these children do it every day to a picture of the pope. Salute the cross. March together down the streets.

    Teach them that the religion must be defended at all costs. Give them weapons and teach them how to use them. Everyone has a duty, and a place in society. Women should be home raising the kids, while men should be at work. Declare a Christianity tax.

    And after you've done all that, I'm sure that a new 'minority' group will show up that's against Christianity. One that has prophecies of someone who will save them from the horror of everything that is Christianity. A 'savior'.

    Sound familiar? It's history.
  • by bliss ( 21836 )
    Actually the best way to become a "natzi" is to make it appear that the government that you establish is not a "natzi" one. Basically you lie and discredit. The whole premise behind 1984 was control. That control was not really handled in a totally transparent way to everyone; unfortunately those that saw it (like Winston) were persecuted through elaborate schemes and the like. The thing is that the 1984 type of thing is not really possible since people already know what to expect from the governemnt and will resist. The same goes with things like a dinosaur theme park due to Jurassic Park because people already have something to object to wheather it be real or not. I for one would have liked to see dinosaurs in a park like that. The one fatal flaw was that they hired a complete moron to program their systems and didn't have manual backups for the major systems.
  • Everytime I see some Christian say "What does this have to do with the 10 Comandments? ... Even if you are not a Christian, most of that stuff still applies. Murder is against the law ..." etc., I wonder when the last time they actually read the Ten Commandments was. So, just to clear up the misunderstanding that seems to exist between us, I think I'll post them (from the KJ version, slightly shortened):

    From the Book of Exodus:

    20:3 Thou shalt have no other gods before me.
    20:4 Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image ...
    20:7 Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain ...
    20:8 Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.
    20:12 Honour thy father and thy mother ...
    20:13 Thou shalt not kill.
    20:14 Thou shalt not commit adultery.
    20:15 Thou shalt not steal.
    20:16 Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour.
    20:17 Thou shalt not covet ...

    Now, I guess it is true that "most" of these apply to all of us (Americans at least), since the intentions of numbers 5-10 are more or less covered by our civil and criminal laws, but what about the first four?

    Number 1: "Thou shalt have no other gods before me." -- What if I'm not Jewish, Christian, or Muslim? Aren't there something like 600 million Hindus in the world?

    Number 2: "Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image ..." -- Hindus, again.

    Number 3: "Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain ..." -- What if he's not MY Lord? Does an atheist even have a "Lord"?

    Number 4: "Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy." -- Same objections at to 1-3.

    So, given that many of the people reading this web page are non-Judeo-Christian-Muslim, I think it is true that MOST of these may apply to us, but at around 40% of them do not.

    Other than your careless words in the first paragraph of your post, you seem to be a rather level-headed person. But it is the "most of that stuff still applies" attitude that gets the Ten Commandments posted on the walls of our state-separate-from-religion courts and school houses. Sure, we should teach kids that murder/adultery/theft/lying/jealousy are wrong and that listening to their parents is good, but do we need to do so in a "Thou shalt have no other gods before me." context? This may seem like nitpicking to some people, but anyone who is a member of any minority knows how different it feels to be on the other side--for the atheists and Hindus of us out here (not to mention the countless others of non-Judeo-Christian-Muslim origins), asking us to just live with the Ten Commandments solely on account of their second half is total crap. I'm not asking you to put up with the words of my gods (or lack thereof) posted in public places--don't ask me to put up with yours.

  • > Vague though this principle may be, it is still
    > clearly a *moral principle*.

    No, it's a political principle. Game over, thanks for playing.

    It is the mistaken notion of outsiders to Libertarianism that Libertarians believe in being fundamentally, morally agnostic. That's far from the truth; many Libertarians hold fervent moral beliefs and hold themselves to the strictest, most Spartan disciplines.

    In fact, the two go hand-in-hand. Libertarians by-and-large have great respect for other people because they, themselves, have a strong sense of virtue. If Libertarians were senseless, immoral pigs, I doubt we would care much for the high-minded notions of individual respect and friendly persuasion.

    Libertarianism is the belief that government should be established according to Rule of Law, and that its operation should never be considered superior to the free, unhindered actions and associations of people. It depends most upon the establishment of a firm and just Law, and the creation of the United States Constitution marks the first coherent time that such a thing had ever been done.

    Today Libertarianism opposes the criminalization of drugs, prostitution, and adultery, for instance. Some suppose, as a result, that Libertarians believe such things are _morally acceptable_ as a matter of policy. In fact, most of us find such things morally _repugnant_. However, we feel that any time government power is employed to "fix" the problems caused, things get _worse_, not better.

    This is another reason that Libertarians are often virtuous: lacking belief in the salvific power of Government, they turn to moral government in Law, self-restraint, and belief in God.

    It's a source of shame to see that many Christians believe their calling to be something akin to the creation of a theocracy. Others believe, in Anabaptist fashion, that the only proper recourse is to completely withdraw from society and to hurl insults from afar. Some, amazingly enough, manage to work for both at the same time.

    The truth is that Christians are called to be the Salt of the Earth. It is the Spirit of God that changes hearts, not silly, stupid laws from the Presidential bully pulpit. When the body of Christ realizes that war, legislation, and separatism are basically losing the struggle, perhaps they'll begin to have a real impact on the lives of real people.

  • by Stephen Williams ( 23750 ) on Monday July 26, 1999 @05:20AM (#1783948) Journal
    Our equivalent to your "R" rating is our 15 rating - nobody under 15 can go into the cinema, by law. Which I'm afraid, I would agree with.

    You shouldn't be "afraid" of stating your point of view here. It is unfortunate that expressing a pro-restriction POV is likely to attract flames from the ultra-liberal section of the Slashdot readership.

    Is there anything anywhere which says all geeks have to be libertarians, totally opposed to all forms of restriction?

    FWIW, I agree with you on the movie ratings thing. I use them as a guideline myself; I skip anything with a 15 or 18 rating and wait for the edited-for-TV version.

  • Somewhere a line must be drawn. Let me take my mother for example.. My mother is a teacher in an elementry school in a small town ~4000 people.

    This past year a *kindergarden* student said to her, and I quote: "I don't have to listen to you you fuckin' bitch" yes a kindergarden student, I won't go into what the older children are saying.

    Where did this *child* learn this? Well the first obvious answer is his parents... When brought into the school to discuss the child's behaviour this child's mother (as overheard by my mother) said to the child, "I told you not to swear you little son of a bitch"

    Obviously this situation rests on the parents who at some point *need* to instill some sort of values in their children. So for this I see the point of not letting children see this movie with out their parents.

    The other side is teenagers, who do *know* better than to swear at their teachers, probably do know where to draw the line and hence should be allowed to see this movie.

    My parents, who both are elementry school teachers, have noticed a general decline in respect, behaviour and general 'normal' values that children hold. Both my parents are afraid to punish or scold their students for fear of being sued by parents.

    The line must be drawn somewhere, this is a good start but it might be drawn a little too high.
  • Can somebody please explain this to me?

    Social conservatives like Tom DeLay and Bob Barr have come right out and suggested that if the Ten Commandments had been posted in Columbine High School, then the tragic shootings that took place there would not have happened. Is there any evidence for this?

    (The following is a summarization of a column that I read some time back; unfortunately, I can't remember the author or the source, but the numbers do stick out in my mind.)

    The United States is, by far, the most religious of all the world's industrialized nations. Over forty percent of US citizens attend church on a weekly basis. Compare that with 27 percent in Britain, 21 percent in France, 16 percent in Australia, and 4 percent in Sweden. The United States also has, by far, the highest murder rate of these same industrialized countries; it is six times higher than the murder rate in Britain, seven times that of France, five times that of Australia, and five times that of Sweden. Japan, where you would be hard-pressed to find anybody who's even heard of the Ten Commandments, has less crime than almost anywhere else on Earth.

    Back here at home, the state of Louisiana has the highest churchgoing rate of the entire nation; it also sports a murder rate that is over twice the national average. Washington state, the state with the lowest churchgoing rate boasts a murder rate that is 38 percent below the national average.

    Please note that I'm not attempting to suggest that churchgoing is the cause of this violence; I'm merely pointing out that it does not appear to be serving as any kind of a deterrent. If lack of religion is indeed the cause for school violence, why have we not seen rampant shootings at such heretical liberal Meccas such as Berkeley and MIT? Why have all of these school shootings taken place in picturesque towns such as Pearl, Mississippi? Paducah, Kentucky? Jonesboro, Arkansas? Littleton, Colorado? These are places that Norman Rockwell would have been proud to call home; they are all a far cry from the hotbeds of secular humanism that you'd find in, say, New York City.

    The religious conservatives have claimed to find a solution without showing any evidence whatsoever for its validity; in reality, the evidence is very much slanted in the other direction.

    The bottom line is that people like Barr and DeLay have their own right-wing agenda, and it has nothing to do with school shootings. I believe it is the responsiblility of all Americans, regardless of their individual faiths, to combat efforts to turn Christianity into a state-sanctioned religion. It's in everybody's best interests -- including Christians -- to see that this doesn't happen.

    And I really don't think that it will; I imagine that the constitutionality of displaying the Ten Commandments in public schools will be challenged and the law will be struck down. What would the champions of this bill think of an Islamic teacher hanging up a sign reading THERE IS NO GOD BUT ALLAH? This is, after all, just the Islamic version of the First Commandment. And if you'd object to such a sign being displayed, then you understand why the law must (and will) be found unconstitutional.
  • As I recall, few people objected too much about that judge until he started making it clear that he did not see citizens before him, he saw Christians (harps playing) and damn heathens (faint whiff of brimstone).

    This resulted in (reasonable) charges that the judge was biasing juries, and *definitely* biasing his rulings, on the basis of religious beliefs. This can be done in countless subtle ways (e.g., by explaining to the jury that a particular witness has to take a different oath than everyone else since he's a Godless atheist, but as good Christians they must give him the benefit of the doubt even though he refuses to accept God) and less than subtle ways (Mrs. Smith is unwilling to raise the kids in a God-fearing Christian home, so it's in their best interest for custody to be awarded to their father... a faithful deacon at his church.)

    It's been so long that I don't recall the particular details of the cases in question, but I *do* recall several instances being mentioned in several newspaper reports. Naturally the supporters of the judge did not bring up his religious bigotry, and the mainstream media mostly dropped it from the discussion.

    (P.S., I think his actions pretty clearly violates the "establishment clause." From what I know of the case, I don't think the judge should have been forced to remove the TC from his chambers -- I think he should have been immediately impeached and disbarred for violation of *his* oath of office!)
  • Agreed. The real problem here is not the theaters but rather our "big brother" culture and our "nanny state" government. If theaters were really free to show whatever they wanted to anyone they wanted (with parents permission for minors, even) they would do so and this would not be a public problem. They are not free to even serve hot coffee with impunity, much less show a good movie to a 15 year old with Mommy's permission.

    We pay a lot for government and, heaven help us, we get a lot of it.
  • Re: My use of the term "Judeo Christian" was intended to point out that there is a commonality of traditions and scriptural sources among the various Christain sects which does have traceable, definite connections to the older Jewish tradition (the Torah does appear in Christian scriptures, though not by that name), and not to suggest that there is a single viewpoint there. My meaning (and the meanings of most people who use the term, I daresay) is that there is a family of viewpoints that can, in some contexts, be usefully grouped together (apparent acceptance of the ten commandments being one such common thread). Heck, when you look at it that way, I was being downright *inclusive*, mentioning that the Jewish tradition is there too, and my parenthetical comment pointed out that the Jewish tradition is more *consistent* on this point, since there isn't as serious a problem as with dealing with the New testament and its teachings in Judaism.

    The current context is just such a context. I made no suggestion that there is an "Evil Moral Majority" consisting of all Christian sects and all Jewish sects (I've heard of the Reformation, Northern Ireland, and the Holocaust, and so have most /. readers) together in a concerted effort to dominate the world. That's something *you* read into it, and given the lack of textual justification for that reading, I don't feel at all responsible for it.

    But just because umpires will make bad calls at some point, that's no reason to remove them from the game.

    Right, umpires sometimes make bad calls and that doesn't disqualify them from being good umpires, or from making calls in the future. Religious sects have made "bad calls" too, and that doesn't mean that there aren't valuable moral insights there. But the umpire has been duly vested with authority, and we can all see from what it derives, and insofar as we have an interest in playing or watching the game of baseball, that is because there is value in seeing that the rules are properly observed and the ump is generally good at seeing that they are. However, if the ump made calls on what he thinks that a vocal portion (I won't say "minority") of the crowd will think of him, then damn straight he should be pulled out of the game. If he's going to make calls on the basis of how he thinks the game should turn out, or because he's made a bet on the outcome, damn straight he shouldn't be there either.

    Provided there's a good reason that can be made clear to all for keeping the ump in the game, nobody *should* have a problem. But (shifting back to the case at hand) when the argument comes down to -- as it so often in public life in the US -- "Look, I believe in what's said here in The Book," and there are irresolvable differences over not only whether The Book ought to have absolute authority (and I'd be willing to argue that these are decisive in and of themselves), but also over what The Book says, then it seems to me that appeal to The Book doesn't have a place in a pluralistic society.

    All I'm asking for are justifications for moral principles that apply to everybody, and it was only in that where I alluded to libertarianism.

    I haven't seen South Park the movie; I find the show highly entertaining, and I would consider it a success as a parent if my children, should I have any, found things like that entertaining too. The idea that children are *harmed* merely by exposing them to alternate viewpoints and treating serious subjects in an irreverent fashion doesn't wash. If it leads them to question things some people find sacred, then fine: if there is value in those things they question, it will stand up to such questioning. If there is not, then those things aren't really worth valuing. Besides, South Park is funny!

  • by arthurs_sidekick ( 41708 ) on Monday July 26, 1999 @06:17AM (#1784036) Homepage
    And about the "Ten Commandments" comment in the first part of your story - give me a break. Our country is closer now to "religious discrimination" then in ever has been - but only in the context of restricting prayer in school and the like.

    Sorry, but I can't buy it. Christianity -- or, I should say, Judeo-Christianity, since the New Testament is the only one that has to do with Christ and the TC are in the Old Testament

    (kids, always, always pay attention to the difference between the New and Old Testaments, they really paint quite different pictures of the moral life)
    -- has a very loud voice in this country and I really can't buy the claim that it is unfairly marginalized (interestingly enough, and I don't necessarily include you, ultrapenguin, many of the same people who seem to demand special rights for christian viewpoints -- such as having schools give christianity a 'leg up' in publicly funded schools -- often scream the loudest about according human rights to homosexuals as "special rights").

    I tell you, I get outright offended by some of the Ten Commandments. As a non-christian, I feel marginalized when they are thrown at me; the idea seems to be that I can't really be a moral being just because I don't go to church. This is not only false, it is perniciously so.

    I heartily object to the one that tells us to have "no other gods" before the Judeo-Christian one. Not to mention other tidbits such as the one that says "thou shalt not kill" really says "thou shalt not murder" which is about as helpful as "thou shalt not do things which are wrong." Honor thy mother and father? No problem, as long as they deserve it. The absolutistic tone in which the TC are revered and understood by some is also positively detrimental, stifling honest moral thought.

    Everyone accepts moral limits, even libertarians -- they just accept different ones than the "legal moralists" and cultural conservatives. The libertarian thinks it is immoral to interfere with others pursuits of their goals, so long as those pursuits do not interfere unfairly with others' pursuits of their goals. Vague though this principle may be, it is still clearly a *moral principle*. While I don't agree with the libertarian conclusions, I at least applaud them for attempting to come up with a mutually justifiable framework in which every individual can pursue his or her own conception of the good life.

    I am not opposed to moral education or moral discussion in public schools; I am opposed to moral education that does not inquire after the *justification* of moral principles, and the "ten commandments" idea is just such a proposal. You can't justify some of those commandments, at least not as they are usually interpreted (i.e. as absolute rules); and the second you allow exceptions to them, you're in the game of providing reasons for allowing them.

  • I made no such assumption, other than possibly that you were a parent, due to your comment about Katz "losing the respect of all parents who read /."

    That said, I don't care HOW old you are. It doesn't change my impression that you seem to be quite firm in the belief that, if left to their own devices, the average 15-year-old (or at least the average 15-year-old male /. reader) would be holding Satanic rituals that contained all Seven Dirty Words and required participants to drink the blood of aborted fetuses from their sexual orgies.

    OK, maybe not quite that extreme. But pretty damn close.

    The other thing you are ignoring is that not all R-rated movies are created equal. I might or might not let my hypothetical someday-child see the South Park movie at a given age. However, have you noticed that many movies that received R ratings are based on books that are taught in high school or even junior high?

    Off the top of my head: Romeo + Juliet, Lord of the Flies, Apocalypse Now, and plenty of others that I just can't remember right now. There are also movies-based-on-books that deliberately toned down aspects of their storyline to avoid an R rating: The Color Purple and Fried Green Tomatoes both immediately come to mind.

    I still think that the reasonable compromise to all this is to have signed parental consent on file for minors who wish to see R rated movies: blanket consent and/or consent for specific movies. Wasn't the rating supposed to be "Under 17 not admitted without permission of parent or guardian" originally? *shrug*
  • So Jon generously stepped in. While his story was a bit far fetched (A priest? Clearly Jon needs more practice with lies. :-), he did a good thing. He didn't teach the kids that you should lie to get what you want. He taught them that their mother's decision was better than the theatres. He taught them a bit of sacrifice (he missed portions of Eyes Wide Shut to help a woman he didn't know). He taught them that a persons moral choices can be independant of society, business, and law.

    Exactly. And the whole incident was a wonderful object lesson in why one-size-fits-all morality is so patently silly.

    How many of us read Harriet the Spy growing up and/or saw the movie recently? Remember when Ole Golly explains to Harriet that even though you might not want to, sometimes you have to lie? And that certain kinds of lies are worse than others?

    Personally, I didn't ask to go to anything R-rated prior to my parents' first offers to take me (to The Last Temptation of Christ, of all things -- IIRC, I was 9 at the time, and we didn't end up going because I didn't want to see it). I started watching R-rated movies on a semi-regular basis when I was 15 or so and in my second year of college. The first R-rated movie I went to see in a theater was The Crying Game. I didn't go to see it because it was rated R and I wanted to be rebellious. I went to see it because I had heard it was a good movie. And it was, though I figured out the "big secret" 20 minutes into the film.

    My parents never told me I couldn't read something. Occasionally, one would say "I think you're a bit young to be reading that; why don't you wait a few years?" I only recall this with two books: Cynthia Voigt's Tell Me If the Lovers are Losers (wanted to read it at 11, read it at 14 and am glad I waited -- it would have gone right over my head), and Fahrenheit 451 (asked about it at 10, read it when I was 15).

    The best present Dad ever got me (the Christmas I was 15) was the "Celebrate Freedom: Read a Banned Book" shirt, and every single book on the shirt. :)

    A more recent example of one-size-fits-all morality falling apart in my life: My boyfriend once overheard his mom having a conversation about "permissive parents" with some of her friends, and saying that she wouldn't let boyfriends/girlfriends stay over at her house even though she didn't care if her kids stayed out all night once they turned 18. Then along comes her college-student son's well-mannered (in her eyes), slightly older, college graduate girlfriend with a semi-professional job and her own apartment. Six months after we started dating, my boyfriend's mother deliberately set up a situation of "oops, looks like AJ's snowed in, we're going to have to let her stay," and didn't blink an eye about us sharing the same bed for the weekend. Apparently, I'm a sufficiently good influence in other ways that us sleeping together has become less relevant. *grin* But so much for that little bit of moral high-ground on her part.
  • Oh, that's easy. That is so easy. :) Let me break it down nice and simple-like:

    I am not a Christian. I am also not Jewish. I follow different Holy Days from "the Sabbath." Therefore, the first four commandments (as posted elsewhere in this thread) are offensive to me when they are portrayed as rules that I, a NON-Christian, am expected to live by.

    They've also been used as an excuse to legislate against things that some Christians feel are "sinful" (gambling, consensual sodomy, mind-altering substances, even teaching evolution in schools). I don't like that. It is destructive to the separation of church and state.

    Is everyone clear on this now?
  • by fable2112 ( 46114 ) on Monday July 26, 1999 @05:52AM (#1784056) Homepage

    The rating rules were set in place to keep underage children from seeing things that they probably aren't developed enough to see.

    Ahem. By whose standards, exactly?

    Kids are allways going to tell the parents it's not that bad. If the parent is in the theater with them, they see just how bad it really is.

    My, my. You certainly have a low opinion of teenagers. I'm glad I'm not your daughter. (Then again, since I'm 21, it's a moot point by now.)

    Ok, so you just gained the respect of every 15year old male that reads slashdot. You just lost the respect of most of the parents that read /.

    I like Katz anyhow, but this made me like him more. And I'm a 21-year-old FEMALE, thank you very much. Again, your low opinion of young people is showing.

    And that's actually one of the biggest parts of the problem here. Treat kids like they are jerks, or like they are delicate flowers in need of "protection" from the big bad world (R-rated movies, dirty pictures, books that contain "bad language," availability of condoms, or what have you), and they will consistently live down to your expectations.
  • by fable2112 ( 46114 ) on Monday July 26, 1999 @06:16AM (#1784057) Homepage


    OK, here goes:

    [WARNING: this post is written in Rant Mode.]

    First of all, the ratings system is FUBAR to begin with. As I recently posted on another thread, Dharma and Greg can roll around making out on the couch before heading off to their bedroom and only get a TVPG rating, but if Ellen merely kisses her girlfriend, it's an automatic TV14. One use of the "F-word," one glimpse of a joint, and a movie becomes PG-13, minimum. One look at a naked female breast (BTW, in my state it's legal for women to go topless, so this is really silly), and the movie gets rated R. Meanwhile, SW:TPM can have all sorts of stuff get blown up and not only stay a PG movie but also be thought of as a perfectly lovely move for kids. BWAH?!

    Secondly, any number of serious movies out there get rated R at least; some are NC-17. And some of those movies are ones that my mom would have been perfectly happy to take me to if I had asked, and would have had no problem leaving me off at the theater to see.

    My CTY class, full of 13ish-year-olds, needed to see Apocalypse Now for a reason: we were comparing it with the book it was based on, Heart of Darkness. Still, on at least one other campus, someone's parents complained because it was an R-rated movie. As my teacher said, "It's a WAR movie. People are getting injured and killed, and they aren't going to say 'oh golly gee' about it." Ironically, the movie probably got its R rating due to language and not violence. :P

    I started college when I was 14. I had to watch R-rated movies for a class on more than one occasion before I turned 17. Fortunately, I was 18 by the time I encountered the NC-17 movie, Wide Sargasso Sea, (wonderful movie BTW), that I had to watch for an English course I was in because we were reading the book as well as Jane Eyre, which it is somewhat based on. Then again, it wouldn't have irrevocably harmed my brain if I had been *gasp* 16 when I saw it. While in college, and still 15, I also went to the $2 theater to see The Crying Game and Three of Hearts, both R-rated movies. Nobody gave me any trouble about getting in. :)

    Most kids who have not been extremely sheltered have heard all of the seven dirty words by the time they're 10 or so, and are probably using them at least occasionally shortly thereafter. Even if they don't quite understand the meaning. A family friend's then-9 year old son was suspended for telling his teacher "I want a blow job out of town," when he didn't understand what it meant, but had seen "blow job" written on the bathroom wall and thought it sounded cool. Sheesh.

    Which reminds me, again we have a certain play by a certain William Shakespeare that is taught in high schools around the country. BTW, it happens to be chock-full of gang violence, kids disrespecting their elders, the occasional bit of dirty humor, kids (we assume) having sex, and teenage suicide. But It's a Classic, so there's nothing wrong with that. And look at the Bible. It's got every bit of nastiness I can think of in it other than actually using the Seven Dirty Words. But most censorship advocates see NOTHING wrong with the Bible; so what if there's sex and violence, it's the Word of God and must be treated as such. Logic, anyone????

    Locally, the silliness started with RHPS, which now won't let kids under 17 in even if they have parental consent, and probably even if they have a parent with them. There go a lot of people's Saturday night fun. *sigh* I know my parents would much rather that I was at RHPS and then the diner afterwards than out partying who-knows-where and ingesting who-knows-what substance.

    Stupid. VERY stupid.
  • by fable2112 ( 46114 ) on Monday July 26, 1999 @10:01AM (#1784058) Homepage

    I do find a certain amount of humor in the fact that a movie which satirizes censorship is drawing such ire from would-be censors.

    It's sort of like Ray Bradbury's essay at the end of the new version of Fahrenheit 451. Some young readers of his wrote in to comment on the irony of the "bad words" being cut out of a book about censorship! Apparently, this prompted RB to look into the matter, find out the kids were right, and order them to put all the "damns" and "hells" back where he wrote them. :)
  • To balance your dogmatic assertion that "IT WAS WRONG" I will assert that IT WAS RIGHT. You seem to have the belief which is common among (though not restricted to) christians that your particular moral code should be applied to all intelligent life in the universe. However, and this may come as a surprise to you, not everyone shares the belief that certain arbitrarily chosen words and subjects are bad/harmful. I for one consider the whole idea of "profanity" to be meaningless. Whenever I ask people who oppose "profanity" why it is "bad", I invariably get answers such as: "It's bad because it's bad" or "It's bad because I was raised to believe that it's bad" or, more often, I get flamed for asking. As for your problem with Katz's lying, let me indulge in a reference to Nazi Germany (no debate would be complete without one): If someone was hiding Jews from the Nazis, would you consider it wrong for them to lie about it? Or would you have them say "Sure, I've seen some Jews, I have some hidden in the basement."? While the theatre situation wasn't as nasty as the Nazi treatment of Jews, this example can serve to illustrate that lying is not necessarily a bad thing. Here's a question: If a lot of people decided that kids shouldn't go to church without having a parent along the whole time, would you consider it bad for someone to lie and get kids into church without their parents? If the answer is "yes" than I salute your consistency, but not much else.
  • For my two cents worth, to some degree I can agree with "protecting the children" but only to the point that it doesn't interfere on adult's rights, or an adult's right to choose for their own children.

    Thanks to gratutious litigation, all corporations are hyper-sensitive to the possibility of offending or being responsible for anything. Sadly, this is what has caused things like this to happen -- the theaterss have to protect themselves at all costs or risk a lawsuit with unrealitic punitive damages -- or so the argument goes. Yes, in some instances the punitive damages get thrown out in appeals (i.e. the case of the woman scalded by McDonalds Coffee in appeals didn't get the $2 Million punitive damave, she just got medical costs), but the cost of litigating claims, not to mention the cost of bad publicity, are more then any punitive damage can inflict.

    I have to say the only intellegent thing Dan Quale ever said was there was too much litigation and there needs to be reform (of course, as was his style, he was speaking before the bar association when he said this). When the corporations can stop having to cover their butts from everything, sensibility might return (one hopes).
  • "Many schools _do_ forbid such things, and their actions are being upheld in court. Moreover, they forbid religious meetings in public school buildings after school hours, while other groups are allowed to do so, denying those groups equal access to public resources."

    I call your bluff. WHAT groups are allowed to hold RELIGIOUS meetings in PUBLIC school buildings, while Christians cannot? Name some.

    "And teachers are forbidden to pray with students privately, even when the student expresses a wish for such activity."

    Yes, this is called CONFLICT OF INTEREST. PUBLIC school teachers are agents of the state. The state is, by mandate of the Constitution, Areligious...religiously neutral. It would be a conflict of interest for a teacher to do so. If my company sold operation system FOO, but by night I pushed operating system BAR on my previous clients, that would be a CONFLICT OF INTEREST and my employer would have every right to review me and fire me if necessary. Now I don't think worshipping in private with a teacher (who happens also to be a human being) is all that bad, especially if the student asks for it. But that is !NOT! what happens in REALITY. In reality the line between student/person and teacher/person is not as well defined, and if the student is irresponsible he/she goes around (with the backing of a teacher) pushing their beliefs.

    "I think you mean "public school policy"; you would do well to note that it is in public schools, specifically, that Christians are denied their faith in a matter as harmless as prayer."

    Let me cry for the put upon Christians...recievers (not givers) of undeserved persecution throughout history. Wah. (sarcasm)
    Can Christians not pray at home at 7:30 AM before breakfast or something? What is it? How the hell do Muslims or Jews seem to survive? And why aren't they pushing for prayer in class?

    "Is it illegal to spend "classroom time" on the spiritual teachings of Ghandi and Maya Angelou? Are the words of _Reverend_ Martin Luther King, Jr., in his _I Have A Dream_ speech, forbidden from the halls of public schools?"

    No. I don't know where you were in high school, but we certainly did learn ancient history, and the pertinent info on the Bible. We weren't forced to pray or BELIEVE in its ideology. That is where your argument has a flaw. Nobody is saying you can't LEARN about the damn religion, they're saying you can't use state funds and resources to propigate it, and believe it or not, forcing people to pray and read the Bible is a propigation of religion. There is a little red book the Chinese had to keep with them once too.

    "But you can't say that denying Christian freedoms once they walk into a public building is "fair treatment"."

    Where those freedoms are MUTUALLY EXCLUSIVE with the freedoms of a United States citizen, a resounding YES YOU CAN!! Each United States citizen has the right of the pursuit of happiness and freedom of religious practice (which INCLUDES freedom FROM religious practice), and the RESPONSIBILITY to not infringe on that same rights of others. Where your Christian freedoms press you to convert others is where they end in this country bub.
  • by Pendulum ( 50917 ) on Monday July 26, 1999 @11:21AM (#1784083)
    So, when exactly would you say kids are ready for this stuff? (stuff=swearing, nudity, etc.)
    My mother is a very liberal parent. She raised three daughters who are non-violent, intelligent (I flatter myself), capable people who do not smoke, drink, or do any other drugstuffs (excepting perhaps caffeine, meds).

    As long as I can remember, I have been allowed to do whatever I liked. If my parents were having a drink, they'd offer me or my sisters one as well. We could watch any movie they rented, and I (an avid reader) could read anything I wanted. We had no curfew, and also no allowance (Mom would pay for school/special things, but all other $$ we had to make on our own). I'm not saying my life with my parents was idyllic, but Mom treated us with the same respect and dignity she used with adults. And we were responsible for our behavior in the same way that adults are.

    I guarantee that at 11 I had more knowledge about the world and how to survive in it than all my classmates put together. My vocabulary was more extensive than that of my gr.6 teacher (sorry, Mrs. Luff, but it's true). And today I am 22, a reasonably successful adult, moving forward in the world while people I knew at 11 have 5 year olds and work at the Quik-E-Mart.

    I'm not perfect, but I've never brutally murdered anyone, I've never kidnapped children to sell into child-porn-slavery, and it's been a good 15 years since I stole any penny candy from the convenience store.

    I guess what I'm saying is if you shelter children, you take away most of their capacity to become reasoning, thinking adults. We have to make mistakes, be punished, get hurt, or else we never learn. When released into the world, lots of sheltered kids fall apart and run back home, to the safe haven of their parent's loving, protective arms.
    "Oh, Mr. TVman, don't say fuck, our little Jimmy's back home from university again! He's moving back home while he thinks about changing his major to Cultural Studies..."

    No one I knew in elementary school was unaware of the 'dirty' words, and most could tell you how to load a gun. However, very few had any concrete information about sex or condoms. I would say that those people out there "Protecting" youth are doing a damn fine job, wouldn't you? Lets teach kids the truth, instead of feeding them confusing, cutsie, transperant lies.
  • Since you asked for other Christian /. readers to speak up, I will. I'm a Christian, and I think that it's okay if a mother lets her 15 years old teenagers go see South Park. Parents are allowed to make the decision of whether or not their children can see a film. I don't think kids should see every film. I got pissed when every time I went to see The Matrix, for example (six times), I saw five year olds in the theatre. that's just lazy & irresponsible. 15 year olds seeing South Park is not a national tragedy, however.

    And about prayer in school. It's still legal, by the way, it's just not legal for the schools to be leading it, and that's fine with me. Students can meet before school, during lunch & after school to pray if they wish. When I was in high school, students did just that, actually. My problem with prayer in school is this: whose prayers? In high school, I knew non-denominational Protestants (me), Catholics, denominational Protestants, Jehovah's Witnesses, Jews, Muslims, Baha'is, Taoists, neo-Pagans, agnostics & athiests, to name a few. How are we supposed to have prayers that meet all the needs of these people? I don't want to say the rosary or the Muslim Shahada, because I don't want to pray to Mary & I personally don't believe Muhammad was God's last prophet. If students aren't allowed to pray on their own time, then there's a problem, but I'm not upset that the principal isn't allowed to lead prayer over the intercom.

  • by PollyJean ( 54795 ) on Monday July 26, 1999 @05:32AM (#1784095)

    Wonderful article as usual. It's really sad to see so much buck-passing going on in the wake of Columbine.

    Everyone turns into a pundit after something like Columbine happens. We all had our $0.02 to contribute. Mine consisted of talking about parental responsibility. It's sad, however, when parents aren't allowed to take responsibility. The kids Katz mentioned in his article all seemed to have responsible parents. They knew what the kids were seeing and approved. And yet they weren't allowed to parent. That's just stupid.

    I'm personally not a big fan of bootlegging. I think it's wrong to not pay the artists for their work. But I'm not a fan of censorship, either, & I think it's great when people use their resources to overcome censorship. The kid with the downloaded copy of the South Park film was great! Thanks to the Net, I got to see the season finale of Buffy before it aired. I've also got in my grubby little hands a video tape of "Earshot," the episode WB has yet to air, which, as it turns out, was one of the best episodes they made last season &, oddly enough, had a message very appropiate to the post-Columbine atmosphere. It was supposed to air the week after Columbine, but WB got scared. Ironically, it could have been shown as an anti-school violence episode with the message of "everybody hurts so don't kill people 'cause you're hurting, too." Instead, they chickened out.

    I'm hoping that the neo-Puritanism through which this country is going is reaching the end of its swing and the pendulum starts to head back the other way. If not, we're going to continue to have kids not being able to see South Park, but we are going to continue to see kids being abused by their peers in schools, ignored by the pundits (I'm still pissed that the kids in Columbine got front-page coverage and people writing songs about them and the like, but black boys like my cousin who get shot down in the street continue to be constantly ignored as if their lives weren't of equal value to those of suburban white kids) & ignored by their schools' administrations. Things aren't going to change as long as people continue to avoid taking responsibility.

    Geeks getting abused in school is old-news, now, I suppose. I was one of them, so I know. It just a shame that the things that make us geeks (i.e. infatuation with silly things like South Park) are being taken away from geek kids, but the real problems continue to be ignored. Kudos to Katz for getting those kids into the movies. Unfortunately, getting into movies seems to continue to be the least of geek kids' problems.

    Sorry for the long post.

  • I know this is flame-bait, but I will say it anyway. I am against censorship and book burning. You may believe what you want, think what you want, and do what you want. That is your right. A stop sign is there, and you may choose to stop, or choose to drive through it. You can choose to abide by a cinema's policies or you can subvert them by dishonesty and trickery. It is your choice.

    But one must be careful when making a sweeping generalization... Not all geeks like porn. Not all geeks like vulgarity. Not all geeks like attitude, and goth, and rebellion.

    Jon Katz has brought me to a disgust of the popular usage of the term geek. It is so one-sided. There are plenty of good, clean-cut, anti-porn, honest geeks out there.

    Jon Katz is certainly allowed his own opinion. To restrict his opinion would be censorship.

    But we also have the right to tune him out. I am tired of the "poor, pitiful, porn-deprived geek syndrome" that he so often writes about.

    My thanks to slashdot for allowing us to customize our page to our own tastes... I will be blocking Jon's rantings and filth from this time forth.


    A concerned father of 6.
  • Last night was the final straw. We decided, once and for all, to permanently boycott the local National Amusements multiplex.

    When it first opened, three years ago this June, it was beautiful. Brand new, modern, convenient. Special discounts and promotions to advertise the place. The theater was half empty on those hot summer days, and you could buy a ticket at 11 AM and stay to see three or four shows. The ushers couldn't care less whether you were 12 or 21. The place just had a friendly atmosphere.

    Gradually, things began to change. The first indication something was wrong was when Showgirls came out later that same summer. Suddenly, there were a few security guards waiting at the entrance to the theater to make sure we had valid tickets and we looked of age.

    The security guards never went away.

    Over the course of the next two and a half years, the theater employees and management became increasingly paranoid. Security guards barricaded off certain corridors when you walked out of a movie to make sure you didn't try to sneak in to another one. You practically had to fight with some of the more obstinate ones after a while for the right to use the restroom. They started checking everyone's IDs at the box office. I saw them once check a polite old man with a cane to verify that he really did qualify for the senior citizen's discount.

    Next, they started making us wait in queues in the theater lobby before we were allowed admittance to the theater. To this day, I've never seen anything like it in any other theater. In a normal theater, they space out the shows to allow enough time for the ushers to clean the theater and for the public to walk straight into their seats after they buy a ticket. But, in National Amusement's greedy wisdom, they space the shows to start about 10 minutes after the last show in that theater ended, so that they can rake in the cash from an additional gate or two. As a result, it's not uncommon to see 600 people waiting in ridiculous serpentine lines in the lobby until 2 minutes before the show is scheduled to begin.

    The final straw was last night, when my friends and I were ten minutes late getting into a movie because a security guard insisted on rechecking my ID on the way into the theater after it had already been checked at the box office AND I had been waiting in a queue for the last 45 minutes.

    Fuck you, National Amusements.
  • >So, if I think that my seven year old is mature
    >enough to take my car down to the liquor store
    >and get Dad a nice bottle of single-malt Scotch,
    >that no one should be able to stop me. I mean
    >damnit, it is my kid, and if I think a 7 year old
    >is mature enough to drive a car and buy liquor,

    If a seven-year-old can pass a driving test, there is no reason other than the completely arbitrary standard the government has set not to allow that seven-year-old to drive legally. Do you really believe that something magical happens when you turn 16 that suddenly makes you capable of driving? The same holds true for alcohol... do you really think that (for example, since this is the only one I've seen personally) the French parents who allow their children to drink wine are doing something wrong?

    As a practical matter, most seven-year-olds would not be able to pass a driving test. But there is nothing wrong in principle with allowing people who have proven that they can drive to drive without a totally arbitrary age standard.

    >it is nobody's business but mine, right? Never
    >mind that it is the law or anything. Hmm.. maybe
    >I think a 3 year old should have the right to

    Based on recent event, the three-year-olds seem at least as intelligent as the people they could elect.
  • I suggest an interesting test to see what the real purpose of this ten commandments bussiness is: would the proponents be satisfied with the substitution of an alternative (modified) list of commandments?

    The first four commandments are transmission related, intended to spread the meme-complex. Since the state is not allowed to promote a particular religion we drop these four and move on to the morally-related commandments. We re-phrase the language to preserve the meaning but cloak the biblical source. (So as not to subliminally promote a particular religious text)

    Here then is a modified ten commandments with identical moral content but sans religious references:


    Respect your parents
    Do not kill
    Do not consort with married individuals
    Do not steal
    Do not accuse falsely
    Do not be envious

    Would the religious right be satisfied if this list list were posted in schools instead of the ten commandments? I don't think so. It proves that the real motivation is not to promote morallity, but to promote a religion.
  • by Patton ( 70344 ) on Monday July 26, 1999 @05:11AM (#1784166)
    Well as much as I disagree with the theater's overreactive policies I can understand somewhat where they are coming from. They're being hit right and left by politics and all they want to do is make money, not fight moral wars.

    Its really up to people to 'get a grip' and tell the politicians where the boundaries are. As it stands the politicans are (and always will being a class of useless leeches) aiming towards whatever they can to make themselves look proactive towards a social problem. Even if the actions are silly.

    Businesses by their very natures have no spine, they want money and political battles are costly. They will bend when the wind blows.
  • by Zilfondel ( 70989 ) on Monday July 26, 1999 @07:36AM (#1784170)
    Contrary to what many of you think here, kids are impressionable. They are not born with an already intact sense of morals, values and an understanding of our world and society. They learn if from their surrounding environment-mostly when they are young, but people always adapt to their surroundings. I think many of the ultra-liberals, concerned more about their freedoms, forget that people abuse these freedoms to make money. A good example of this is the media-TV and movies which open people's eyes, usually due to sex and violence. Most of the movies people see now have significant amounts of both.
    The problem with violence in our society, as I see it, is not directly linked to our media (TV/movies), as is the current mainstream opinion. However, the whole 'generation X' and the one after has been completely saturated with violence-and it has to have SOME impact upon the viewer. I must have seen thousands of people die on television, and killed millions more on quake type games. I'm not about to run out and go on a shooting rampage, as I'm sure millions of other gamers won't either. But when you have kids in an unstable family, where the parents don't teach a good sense of values and morals in the first place, the addition of gatuitous violence doesn't help. This is where violence in our society starts-a combination of violence and lack of morals and standards.
    Seems to me that the American family needs more help than anything, and government regulations and theatres refusing to sell tickets to minors are mere stopgaps to help prevent a bad situation from getting worse. Unfortunately, these have little real impact, because we live in a society where we have a lot of freedom, so government intevention is minimal.
    Instead of bitching about the government, why don't you take a look at the bigger picture, and issues such as the general degradation of the quality of life in the freest country in the world?
  • Hey, chill with the personal attacks. Now, I'm an agnostic, but I've studied enough to be roughly aware of where he's coming from. Acceptance of a religion implies accepting *all* of it (I *despise* people who claim a faith, and then pick and choose whatever matches with their politics; spawn off a new sect, instead...), and that usually includes a belief that such a religion is the *truth*, and there is a duty to live by it and spread it.

    If you want to oppose religious influence, don't do so simply because of a whim. Who are you to decide that morals include non-inteference with others -- as that is a decision that labels, criticizes and possibly offends others, in itself? If you believe that actions or people can be "right", "wrong", "good" or "evil" -- and I'm including shades of grey, not just absolutes -- then such a belief has to come from somewhere within -- and that place is not logic. Sooner or later, you reach something which is just gut feeling, stuff that you just *know*. For many, that comes from religion. A similar belief drives scientific discovery: a belief that it is *right* for Man to discover, that inherently knowledge is good.

    I acknowledge that origin of belief. I still oppose imposition of religion from the State, but my quarrel isn't personal; it's distinctly ideological, and is grounded in my gut-driven cynicism; preference for the temporal versus the spiritual realm; and dislike of coercion without clear (temporal) justification.

    FWIW, it's arguable that most of the religious wars were largely driven by temporal concerns, such as power struggles between the Church *as an institution* versus potential threats to loyalty. It is well documented that the infamous Salem witch trials were curiously correlated with property disputes, and that it is very arguable that the whole episode was a sham by which various people acted on their jealousies and avariciousness. That's not much different from innumerable temporal disputes historically or currently waged for far different grounds than are publicized.
  • (Uhm.. btw, this might hold some offense language, since I can't make examples without the examples. If it offends, well.. :) )

    Hmm... ratings, yeah we have those here too. I think something like 16 and 18. Movies aren't really rated that much here, or at least I never noticed much of them. Ratings here are put on movies though I think they're more like advised ratings than required. I've seen kids under 18 enter movies like showgirls. Movies like 'Army of Darkness' and 'Braindead' can be viewed by just about everyone. They're not gonna ask at the videostore how old you are, unless you look like uhm... 11?

    I agree with JonKatz that Hollywood people are going WAY overboard with observing/complying w/ ratings. If parents allow their kids to see Southpark, then theirs should be the final word. Parents are responsible for raising their kids, not the movie companies.

    However, parents are responsible for knowing what their kids watching, and explaining to them the difference between accepted behavior and non-accepted behavior. I see kids watching southpark without guidance, and they start copying it. That's all very nice, but personally I don't think it accepted behavior to speak to grandparents, teachers or passerby's on the street with referals such as: "Hey, Butt-pipe!" or to tell them they're a 'cock-sucking, ass-licking, uncle Fucka'. And that's just language.

    I can see where after a while, shooting people who you don't like will turn into accepted behavior. However, this is for the parents to moderate. Of course, you have to ask yourself... do all parents do this? How many of them use the TV as a babysitter or to 'get rid of their kids'?
    In the end, I guess you're either a parent, or you're someone who just has kids.

    So who's right and who's wrong in the rating battle? I don't know. I agree that ratings are stupid... but ever wonder if perhaps they've become necessary? Morbid thought, isn't it?

  • Or do you just attend church?
    Granted, I've been atheist for quite awhile, but I've made it a habit to study what christianity really is. One thing that impresses me about 'true' cristians (I can name 2 that I know, no more) is that they don't judge. Remember the whole humble thing? It is _NOT_ your place to judge that mother. By your own releigion, it is _GOD'S_ place. not yours. Remember that. Just as I am not saying you are a non-thinking spouter, relaying what they've been told to say. I'm just telling you to actually think about your groundings before you spout out against someone.

Never buy from a rich salesman. -- Goldenstern