THERE USED TO BE RULES
by David Sisler
There used to be rules. You knew what players were on your team. You knew where the boundaries were. Now, it seems, everyone is wearing the same color uniform, and all of the uniforms have the same numbers. If you don't like the rules, change them. It doesn't matter if there is a game in progress or not. If your team isn't doing well, you can catch up quickly if you legalize cheating.
A ball player, for example, agrees to a certain salary with certain contractual obligations. After a good season he decides he is worth more than he promised he'd play for. In words from "Romeo and Juliet," he says, "I have no joy in this contract." He takes back his word and says, "Renegotiate, or I won't play."
Bill Watterson created a fascinating comic strip. "Calvin and Hobbes" is about a little boy, and his stuffed tiger. Calvin imagines all sorts of things. His stuffed tiger comes alive. Adults become dinosaurs. Calvin, as "Spaceman Spiff" flies space ships to incredible alien worlds.
One day Calvin and Hobbes were holding a meeting of GROSS. That's the name of their club. The letters stand for Get Rid Of Slimy Girls. Dictator-For-Life Calvin presided over the development of a list of what girls are good for. First Tiger Hobbes recorded the list.
Everything went well as the duo declared girls are good for water balloon targets, good for nothing, and good for colonizing the planet Pluto. The meeting dissolved into a fight when Hobbes said, "Girls are good for smooching!"
Calvin accused Hobbes of being a traitor to the cause. Hobbes countered he had seen Calvin smooching a girl. His Mom had kissed Calvin on the cheek, and according to club rules Calvin had to be excommunicated.
Seeing the logic of the situation, Calvin said, "I guess Mom is kind of a girl, sort of. OK, presidential pardons all around."
Hobbes said, "We'll add an amendment saying smooching is optional if it's your Mom."
Calvin replied, "This is such a great club!"
There used to be rules. Ten rules were deemed important enough to be displayed in American classrooms. Then a court order said that just wouldn't do. The rules had go come down. Have you noticed that since we stopped praying in schools and stopped displaying the Ten Commandments in schools, incidents of violence, drug use, and promiscuity have soared, while academic performance has plummeted? Do you suppose there is a connection?
Martha Kleder recently published a report entitled, “The FCC: A Failure of Enforcement,” in which she details the Federal Communication Commission’s mandate, by law, to enforce decency standards in radio and television broadcasts, and their almost total failure to do so. No television station has paid a fine for broadcasting indecent programing in over 20 years, she writes.
A few radio stations have received token fines, most have ignored them, and there have been no substantial penalties.
One of the most egregious is the story of an Alabama woman and a syndicated radio show.
Ms. Kleder reports, “Angela Woods, a young mother from Hueytown, Alabama, was in her car one morning listening to the ‘Lex and Terry Show,’ a program syndicated across the South but new to her radio market. She was shocked when the hosts used vulgar and obscene terms to describe female genitalia.
“Woods immediately called the station to complain about the language and was ridiculed on the air by the hosts with still more vulgar and obscene language. When Woods arrived at work that morning her co-workers, who had been listening to the same station, reported that the hosts had said they ‘hope she has a wreck and gets killed on the way to work.’
The FCC dismissed Mrs. Woods’ complaint, noting that while the comments were ‘certainly offensive, they are not indecent because they are not patently offensive as measured by contemporary community standards for the broadcast medium.’”
Although the FCC’s comment about “contemporary community standards” is outrageous, it is easy to see why there are no standards, why there are no rules. But while family-oriented groups are easily dismissed, it may not be so easy for skeptics to ignore the comments of a major media outlet, The New York Times.
Again, quoting from the Kleder report:
“‘What’s really happening now is a transformation to the daily normalization of this [coarse language, sexual topics including oral sex and pornography],’ Robert Thompson, professor of media and pop culture at Syracuse University, told The New York Times. ‘It’s commonplace to hear erection jokes on ‘Friends’ at 8 o’clock; even gentle little programs like ‘Everybody Loves Raymond’ have the kind of stuff that, when it played on ‘Three’s Company’ 20 years ago, made the PTA go completely ballistic.’
“The article also noted that broadcasters were aiming to make the fall 2001 television line-up even worse, with the inclusion of every kind of foul word and regular features of partial nudity.
“Yet, the FCC has said the number of indecency complaints involving television remained negligible and had taken no action against stations for network programs in 2001.”
Let's go back to Calvin a minute. One day, after drawing in a book for several minutes, he sat up and said, "What a rip-off! They say if you connect these dots you get a picture, but look! I did and it's just a big mess!
Hobbes observed, "I think you're supposed to connect them in the order they're numbered."
Calvin retorted, "Oh. Everything's gotta have rules, rules, rules!"
The Psalmist said, "I understand more than the ancients, because I keep thy precepts. I have refrained my feet from every evil way, that I might keep thy word" (Psalm 119:100-101).
Our modern society knows so much, but understands so little. It is the consequence of disobedience. Calvin is right. Everything must have rules. If you don't like the rules, maybe it is you who needs to be changed. Not the rules.
Copyright 2002 by David Sisler. All Rights Reserved.
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