A billboard advertisement by online FM radio station FCUK along interstate I-95 in Miami, Florida, April 30, 2004. The radio station has had many complaints to local police. The station is owned by Clear Channel, the same company that dropped the Howard Stern show due to indecency concerns. (REUTERS/Marc Serota)
This long Thanksgiving weekend marks the beginning of a season when many millions of us celebrate traditional family and religious values. We think it's an appropriate time to talk about what many people call "the coarsening of America," the collapse of values we used to share. For many of us, it means the possibility of being assaulted every day by rudeness and vulgarity. For parents, it means not being sure of what their children will see on television or in the movies or on the web.
"Some of our friends on the left who don't much like free markets would say, 'Hey, that's capitalism. You folks who want to be both free marketeers and cultural conservatives, you can't have it both ways. That's just what happens in a market economy.'"
"Free market means that your dollar means just as much as anybody else's dollar, you vote with your dollars, and sex and violence turns out to be wildly popular. Now I would draw an interesting contrast with high culture, which is a somewhat subsidized market."
"The biggest media companies, whether in music or in television and film, are huge, huge companies. They have to generate enormous amounts of revenue to make a profit. And the way you do that in the market they're in is to target the lowest common denominator."
"I'm not so sure that it's actually clear that there's more sex, more violence, so much as the fact that there are so many outlets for it these days. The mass media, the traditional networks, if anything tend to still be the most tame. What tend to upset a lot of people are MTV or sex stations on the Internet."
"People know what repels them and there comes a line. I think that line is reached when there is so much vulgarity and excess that people say, 'I am not going to watch this and it isn't interesting.'"