Things are getting a little out of control with talk radio these days. On Friday the radio duo of Opie and Anthony, shock talkers out of NYC, were compelled to publicly apologize for a comic riff they did on satellite radio network XM Radio.
Yeah, that's right. Now you can't say anything shocking even on a pay-service, non-FCC regulated network without incurring the frenzied wrath of this world of busy-bodies that we're living in.
Sure, Opie & Anthony were party to some horrific comments apparently made by their guest, an outspoken homeless man, about the terrible things he'd do to women such as Condi Rice, Laura Bush and Queen Elizabeth. I didn't hear the remarks, but knowing O&A's show, they were probably delivered in the same manner of a bunch of construction workers on a break, crudely joking around. That kind of thing can get real disgusting real fast, especially when they're trying to top each other by being even more ridiculously outrageous.
In other words, the comments weren't supposed to be taken seriously.
Or taken out of context, which is exactly what happened with the witch-hunt piling on that the media tends to indulge in these days. Can you imagine if the creator of "The Sopranos" was held publicly responsible for the lines he had written for his characters? When Paulie Walnuts calls a stripper the "c-word", should David Chase then be hounded out of Hollywood?
While O&A aren't necessarily fictional characters, their on-air "personas" tend to be. Like Howard Stern. In fact, Opie occasionally breaks character and makes a statement starting with "I'm Greg Hughes, the actor who plays Opie..."
This latest tempest seems to be largely the creation of Matt Drudge, who broke the "story" on his website and made sure to quote the most heinous lines from the show. It almost seems to be payback for Imus, who was a darling of the right, even though they will deny that fact. And the non-questioning media jumped right on board, mostly glossing over the fact that the show is on a pay service and has as much business being compared to the Imus situation as "The Sopranos" would have being compared to a network TV show like "CSI: Miami". Different standards apply.
The one thing that O&A have going for them is the fact that they have very few advertisers on their show, whereas Imus was killed by all his advertisers bowing to public pressure and pulling out of his show. XM Corp so far has decided to stick with O&A. That could change if the FCC decides to pressure XM to drop them before signing off on the proposed XM/Sirius merger.
And that would absolutely be de facto censorship. We've apparently gone right back to where we were when Lenny Bruce was hounded to death for supposed "obscenity".
So now, every single day there's a cadre of people "monitoring" talk radio, both broadcast and satellite, hoping and waiting to hear somebody say something they can "tattle" upon. Meanwhile, every single day Americans are losing their lives in a pointless war; but THAT'S not important enough to get people riled up, apparently.
Here's a write-up on the situation in the RecordOnline.Com, which gives a more balanced treatment of the facts than I've seen elsewhere in the media.
And here's Elvis Costello singing about how "the radio is in the hands of such a lot of fools tryin' to anaesthetise the way that you feel!"