ACLU Urges Government to Stay Out of America’s Living Rooms:

June 26, 2007 12:00 am


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“Let the Parents Parent”

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Contact: Media@dcaclu.org

WASHINGTON, DC – In light of today’s scheduled Senate Commerce Committee hearing on television violence, the American Civil Liberties Union urged lawmakers to reject any proposals that would allow the Federal Communications Commission to regulate violence on television. The American Civil Liberties Union is committed to preserving and protecting free speech and believes government should not replace parents as decision makers in America’s living rooms.

“The FCC’s recent report suggests replacing parents with politicians when it comes to deciding what television shows children should watch,” said Caroline Fredrickson, director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office. “There are some things the government does well, but deciding what is aired and when on television is not one of them. Parents themselves can use tools to protect their children from viewing unsuitable programs, including blocking programs and channels, changing the channel – or the easiest solution of all, turning off the television,”

“Both parents and their children may benefit from media literacy education and a better understanding of how to use the tools available to them,” said ACLU senior lobbyist Terri Schroeder. “The ACLU doesn’t object to industry- or even government-sponsored media literacy efforts. However, our focus should then be on providing such opportunities, not encouraging government to replace America’s parents as the primary decision makers in our own homes.” She added, “Parents, not government, are in the best position to decide what’s in the best interest of their children.”

The ACLU repeatedly has voiced its concern over the constitutionality of governmental regulation of violent programming and the feasibility of government going down this regulatory road. Government-imposed standards for television violence would threaten core American values: the right to a free and open media, the right to free speech and the right of parents to control the upbringing of their children.”

The Supreme Court found it would be virtually impossible for the government to create a definition of violence that would allow “acceptable” violence and restrict “unacceptable” violence. Any such definition likewise would be indiscernible and inconsistent, chilling speech and thus violating the First Amendment.

“The most effective and precise mechanisms are those already available to parents,” said Schroeder. “The power to control the upbringing of our children, including what they watch, should remain in the hands of those most capable to make such decisions: the parents’.”

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