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Friday, February 27, 2004

Reverse Censorship of "The Passion"?

There's been plentiful discussion these past few days about how the Super Bowl halftime wardrobe malfunction gave religious conservatives just the opening they needed to demand removal of programming they consider immoral, such as Howard Stern's radio show. I've not posted on this since my anti-censorship stance is pretty straightforward and doesn't add much to the debate. But another angle to the story came to me as I was reading Roger Ebert's four-star review of The Passion, which ends with this:

The MPAA's R rating is definitive proof that the organization either will never give the NC-17 rating for violence alone, or was intimidated by the subject matter. If it had been anyone other than Jesus up on that cross, I have a feeling that NC-17 would have been automatic.

So in addition to the idea that speech deemed unacceptable by religious zealots is facing tougher scrutiny, we now see the view from Ebert that content that is favored by religious groups may be getting a free pass from regulators, even if it oversteps the normal bounds that everyone else must abide by.

The great irony of the Howard Stern brouhaha: more media time for Michael Savage, who infamously was fired from his MSNBC show for making derogatory remarks to a gay caller. Savage was on both CNN and ABC last night.