Meet Me In St. Louis

During the storm, a young mother turned on the radio to see if school had been canceled. As she and her young children listened, they were stunned to hear the most shocking, gutter language. They had tuned in to one of radio's so-called "shock jocks" who fill the air waves with sexual innuendo and smut. Last week, in a decision that dismayed many of us, the Supreme Court decided to keep the "shock jocks" in business. The case before the court had started a couple of years ago when, encouraged by the Bush administration, the Federal Communications Commission imposed a 24-hour ban on indecent broadcasting. Indecent was defined as that patently offensive to community standards including sexual or excretory activities or organs. The ban was intended especially to protect children for studies have shown that even in the wee hours of the morning, many young adolescents tune into radio or watch television. Last year, the 24-hour ban was struck down by a court of appeals, so the Federal Communications Commission appealed. But now, with only two dissenting votes has declined to hear the case which means the ban can't be enforced. So, every day between the hours of 8:00 in the evening and 6:00 in the morning, radio and television are free over the public air ways to show or broadcast indecent material. And those who want to protect themselves and their families from smut have no choice but to tune out. But, wait a minute. I thought this was a conservative court; the Reagan/Bush majority; traditionalists; the people that you'd expect to vote to restore public decency. What happened? Well, I'm afraid it's the same thing that we see happening again and again to those who come to Washington to work in Congress or the Administration. They become infected with what I call the "Beltway Bug." They mingle with Washington insiders, they all read the same newspaper--the Washington Post--they attend the same social events and rub shoulders with the same lobbyists. Almost without noticing it, the newcomers start to lose the convictions they had when they came to Washington. They absorb a "Beltway" outlook; a trendy, oh-so-progressive point of view, where traditional values seem unenlightened and regressive. Members of the court aren't immune. They don't live in cocoons. You know, there is a cure for the Beltway Bug. Get out of Washington. Go to middle America where everyday folks live, where people are offended when sexual organs are shown on television. The government itself once considered doing just that. A century ago, there was a proposal to move the whole federal government to St. Louis. The rationale was that the government ought to be more centrally located, more accessible to the whole nation, not just the eastern seaboard. The government didn't do it because it had just built what is now the executive office building, a grand and expensive edifice. But I say, let's resurrect at least part of that idea. How about moving just the Supreme Court? We could turn that lovely Supreme Court building into a beautiful museum and move the court itself out to. . . let's say Peoria? or Little Rock? or Kansas City? Where it could once again mingle with the people who make America work and who, unlike those inside the Beltway, don't mind being so unenlightened as to keep sick trash off the public air ways. It was a good idea 100 years ago; it's an even better one today.


Chuck Colson


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