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Another Encroachment

April 22, 2006

During the era of the Clinton presidency, I often found myself critical of policies that I saw as direct attacks on personal freedoms. One of those came in the mid 90s, when it was proposed that websites be required to have warning labels on them. Luckily, common sense prevailed (how do you handle news sites, for example, that deal with subjects that might potentially be considered label-worthy), and the idea was scrapped in August 1997.

Fast-forward to April 2006. Despite a 33% approval rating (or perhaps because of it), President Bush is going on the offensive against freedom. His Attorney General, Alberto Gonzales, is pushing for a piece of legislation called the "Child Pornography and Obscenity Prevention Amendments of 2006." However, this has nothing to do with child pornography, which is already illegal and being prosecuted (and rightfully so), and everything to do with the federal government encroaching on the freedoms of the internet.

It's the thin end of the wedge. Much like Bubba The Love Sponge and Howard Stern were the "thin end of the wedge" with the FCC's content control arm (and some people were waaaaay too eager to support that draconian fines and punishments levied there), now the big four TV networks (ABC, NBC, CBS and FOX) have found themselves the victims of the capricious and arbitrary fining system of the FCC.

There's already Supreme Court precedent against government-mandated ratings (Interstate Circuit v. the City of Dallas, 1968), and as David Greene of the First Amendment Project said on, "I believe the (proposed) law(s) would be struck down as impermissible compelled speech." The current movie ratings system that's in place is one of a voluntary nature.

My point in bringing up Clinton and Bush is this: it doesn't matter, Democrat or Republican, both sides seem ready, willing, and sadly all too able to take away your freedom. This is why I'm a registered Libertarian. If you care one iota about retaining your freedom, and letting "The Land of the Free" be more than a hollow or false title about this country that I love, that my Great Uncle Johnny Pickney gave his life defending in World War II, then I suggest that you give a long look at who you support and consider the long-term ramifications that rest therein.

I saw a great movie last night called Thank You For Smoking. On the advice of L1, I decided to go see it. I had to drive 15 miles to get to the closest theatre that was actually playing it, but I went right after work and caught the 5:15 PM showing up in Vestiva Hills at Rave Movie Pictures (which has a ridiculously small sign indicating where it is from the road.) There was a long line for tickets, with just one person working the window... and then I realized that they had a self-service machine. I bought a ticket with my debit card, though with no one checking tickets at the entrace, I could've walked right in without paying. But I wasn't there to rip the place off; they deserve to be rewarded for showing a quality movie.

And, true to the reviews and suggestions, it was a brilliant film. I won't spoil it for you -- just go see it. The only negative I have to say about it was that Katie Holmes was miscast as a Washington newspaper reporter. The woman who played the alcohol industry lobbyist (Maria Bello) would've been much more believable in that role. Holmes' acting wasn't lacking, but it was just jarring. Not "Denise Richards as a doctor of nuclear physics" in The World Is Not Enough unbelievable, but it was out of place in an otherwise excellent film.

One other thing: the film includes one of my favorite actors, William H. Macy. He did some of his trademark things (when he brought in his assistant for a chewing-out, he paused for a moment, like someone would do in real life, and the hesitation was very similar to how his "Little Bill" character in Boogie Nights reacted a time or two), but he added a few small things to the role that elevated it from being just a stereotypical antagonist role.

A bonus about going to see a good movie in limited release is that the trailers tend to be for films that are better than most. A Scanner Darkly looks interesting. Trust The Man looks like a chick flick in disguise, but it's distributed by Fox Searchlight, which usually is associated with quality films. Little Miss Sunshine looks entertaining; I read just now on that it took FIVE YEARS to make the movie due to financial reasons, and that Fox Searchlight bought the rights to distribute the film at the 2006 Sundance Film Festival for $10.5 million. And then there was Friends With Money, which has received strong reviews. Besides Office Space, has there been a good Jennifer Aniston movie? And Office Space doesn't count, since she played more of a peripheral role than anything in it...

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