....LMB: "Stupid Stupid Stupid"....

July 16, 2002

PBS, America's half-assed version of public television, is adding a character to the South African version of its educational children's TV show Sesame Street (known as "Takalani Sesame" in South Africa), an as yet-unnamed female muppet that is HIV positive. While that may sound funny at first, it actually seems quite reasonable when you realize that 1 in 9 South Africans is HIV positive. Sadly, in South Africa , an HIV positive muppet is probably the equivalent of an American muppet that doesn't celebrate Christmas.

Now comes the stupid part.

Six members of the US House of Representatives wrote a letter to the president of PBS which stated "hello, we're six morons." Well, not literally. Literally, it stated that they were concerned about the "age-appropriateness" of teaching the show's 2-4 year old audience about AIDS, and more or less warn that they don't want this character to appear in US versions of the show.

Let's tip our caps to these rocket scientists of the Potomac:

Rep. W. J. "Billy" Tauzin of Lousiana (shown on page, holding fish)
Rep. Joe Barton of Texas (below the .gif of barbed wire)
Rep. Richard Burr of North Carolina
Rep. Charles "Chip" Pickering of Mississippi
Rep. Cliff Stearns of Florida
Rep. Fred Upton of Michigan (wedged awkwardly between radio DJs in photo)

I've taken the liberty of writing up a letter that you can send to these representatives to express your feelings about their stance on the issue. Ahem.

Dear Rep. ________,

No one gives a fuck about your opinions regarding South African puppet shows.


[your name here]

The Clever Six's letter to PBS apparently had some small threat involved, asking how much money PBS was spending on this new character. Congress always has this sort of power over public TV and radio, because they hold the purse strings. Conservatives often make such threats against PBS and NPR when they get "too liberal."

Which leads me to my second sample letter.

Dear Rep. ________,

Government officials like yourself have your salaries paid by hard-working Americans like me. I am writing to ask how much of your taxpayer-funded time you have spent writing letters about puppets. As a citizen, I would like you to reimburse me, and the rest of the American people, for this time you have wasted while on the clock. I feel strongly about the issue of puppet-oriented letter-writing, and I truly believe that it does not belong in a governmental workplace.

Please send my portion of the national puppet-letter tax refund to the address below.


[your name here]
[your address here]

Posted by Jake at 02:13 AM

Well done, sir. As a puppet, i applaud your championing of our rights to freedom of expression. Thank you for your assistance and insight.

Posted by: a concerned puppet at July 16, 2002 02:52 PM
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Lying Media Bastards is both a radio show and website. The show airs Mondays 2-4pm PST on KillRadio.org, and couples excellent music with angry news commentary. And the website, well, you're looking at it.

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Media News

November 16, 2004

Tales of Media Woe

Senate May Ram Copyright Bill- one of the most depressing stories of the day that didn't involve death or bombs. It's the music and movie industries' wet dream. It criminalizes peer-to-peer software makers, allows the government to file civil lawsuits on behalf of these media industries, and eliminates fair use. Fair use is the idea that I can use a snippet of a copyrighted work for educational, political, or satirical purposes, without getting permission from the copyright-holder first.

And most tellingly, the bill legalizes technology that would automatically skip over "obejctionable content" (i.e. sex and violence) in a DVD, but bans devices that would automatically skip over commericals. This is a blatant, blatant, blatant gift to the movie industry. Fuck the movie industry, fuck the music industry, fuck the Senate.

Music industry aims to send in radio cops- the recording industry says that you're not allowed to record songs off the radio, be it real radio or internet radio. And now they're working on preventing you from recording songs off internet radio through a mixture of law and technological repression (although I imagine their techno-fixes will get hacked pretty quickly).

The shocking truth about the FCC: Censorship by the tyranny of the few- blogger Jeff Jarvis discovers that the recent $1.2 million FCC fine against a sex scene in Fox's "Married By America" TV show was not levied because hundreds of people wrote the FCC and complained. It was not because 159 people wrote in and complained (which is the FCC's current rationale). No, thanks to Jarvis' FOIA request, we find that only 23 people (of the show's several million viewers) wrote in and complained. On top of that, he finds that 21 of those letters were just copy-and-paste email jobs that some people attached their names to. Jarvis then spins this a bit by saying that "only 3" people actually wrote letters to the FCC, which is misleading but technically true. So somewhere between 3 and 23 angry people can determine what you can't see on television. Good to know.

Reuters Union Considers Striking Over Layoffs- will a strike by such a major newswire service impact the rest of the world's media?

Pentagon Starts Work On War Internet- the US military is talking about the creation of a global, wireless, satellite-aided computer network for use in battle. I think I saw a movie about this once...

Conservative host returns to the air after week suspension for using racial slur- Houston radio talk show host (and somtime Rush Limbaugh substitute) Mark Belling referred to Mexican-Americans as "wetbacks" on his show. He was suspended for a couple of weeks, and then submitted a written apology for the racial slur to a local newspaper. But he seems to be using the slur and its surrounding controversy to boost his conservative cred with his listeners.

Stay Tuned for Nudes- Cleveland TV news anchor Sharon Reed aired a story about artist Spencer Tunick, who uses large numbers of naked volunteers in his installations and photographs. The news report will be unique in that it will not blur or black-out the usual naughty bits. The story will air late at night, when it's allegedly okay with the FCC if you broadcast "indecent" material. The author of this article doesn't seem to notice that Reed first claims that this report is a publicity stunt, but then claims it's a protest against FCC repression. I'd like to think it's the latter, but I'm not that much of a sucker.

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Mission: Mongolia

Jake's first attempt at homemade Mongolican barbecue:


What went right: correctly guessing several key seasonings- lemon, ginger, soy, garlic, chili.

What went wrong: still missing some ingredients, and possibly had one wrong, rice vinegar. Way too much lemon and chili.

Result: not entirely edible.

Plan for future: try to get people at Great Khan's restaurant to tell me what's in the damn sauce.

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