AFA Gets It Wrong
Tuesday, November 16, 2004 8:25 pm Daniel J. Summers
Offensive language and topics are a concern for many folks, myself included. The American Family Association has a history of fighting to maintain standards of decency in print and over the airwaves. However, their recent decision to protest ABC's airing, in its original format, the film Saving Private Ryan as a tribute for Veteran's Day, I believe, misses the point.
ABC did not “sneak” that onto the airwaves - they warned their affiliates in advance, and some chose not to carry the network's programming that evening. When the movie came back from commercials, there was a warning each time that the program contained strong violence and language. It was rated “TV-MA (LV)” which indicated that it was not suitable for children (and so that V-chip programmed TVs would not let the program through). And, this was not the first time ABC has aired that movie it its original uncut format - I know it has aired at least twice before (usually surrounding Memorial Day), and I believe the first time, it was aired commercial-free. Why this showing seems to have generated such controversy, I'm not quite sure.
I would venture to say that the men that this film portrays are not the ones offended. True, the film has coarse language, but so did many of the folks in the Greatest Generation. And, while the language in the film was quite strong, I can't remember a single instance that was sexually oriented. This is also not the first time a network has aired an “uncensored” program - I remember when I was growing up, CBS aired the program “Scared Straight”, which was filled with rather strong language.
The AFA usually does some great work, but in this case, they're missing the point. More than that, rather than allowing ABC's honoring of our veterans to receive the focus, they are going to get the focus instead, and most of it is going to be something along the lines of “These Christians are at it again, trying to tell us what to do.” It's always wise, in most things, to “pick your battles” - only choose the ones that matter, and I don't think that this was a wise choice, especially given the fact that we have folks making similar sacrifices today.