Mississippi Public Broadcasting (MPB) dropped the very popular Fresh Air hosted by Terri Gross. The drop came at Christmas time in 2009. It then returned for a brief period and now is again off the MPB’s airways. An email dated July 12 2010 from Kevin Farrell, director of MPB radio, states “MPB no longer airs this program [Fresh Air] due to recurring inappropriate content.”
Just what was this inappropriate content? Mr. Farrell did not elaborate. A look at the programs that aired recently on Fresh Air reveals these interviews: July 13th, “A Psychiatrist’s Prescription for his Profession; “ July 12th, “Missing ‘Priceless’ Artwork? Call Robert Wittman; “ July 9th, “Colin Firth: A Leading Man in ‘A Single Man’; ” and July 8th, “Generating Changes In The Electrical Power Grid.” Anything inappropriate in these stories?
Recent reviews included these: July 13th, “Robert Randolph: A Gospel Guitarist’s Secular ‘Road’;” July 12th, “A Star Named Marilyn (But Not The One You Think; ” and July 9th, “Cholodenko’s ‘Kids’ Flick: More Than Just All Right.” Anything that stands out as recurring and inappropriate here?
Recent political topics included “CPAC, The Tea Party And The Remaking Of The Right,” “Connecting The Dots Between PhRMA And Congress,” and “‘Clinton Vs. Starr’: A ‘Definitive’ Account.” Anything inappropriate that the average American could not handle in these topics?
Now what could possibly be inappropriate about the content of these shows? Couldn’t possibly be the interview with Colin Firth regarding his role in “A Single Man.” He plays the part of a gay man grieving the loss of his partner. The story line of grieving the death of a loved one is as old as the story of David and Jonathan in First Samuel of the Hebrew Scriptures. And it certainly could not be the movie review of Cholodenko’s “The Kids Are Alright.” That story line of parents dealing with their rebellious teens goes all the way back to Adam and Eve. Oh wait, the parents are both lesbians. Nah, it couldn’t be that.
Unless what is inappropriate is that these story lines reveal homosexuals as being just as affected by universal themes as everyone else. Now that we can’t have because that would mean gays, lesbians, bi’s, and transgender folks live just as mundane a life as everyone else. It would mean that they are not the evil incarnate bent on destroying the American dream, baseball and apple pie, too. They are just trying to reach the American dream like everyone else. Now that is inappropriate!!!
One of the beauties of public radio is that it will air shows that commercial radio is too scared to air. It will offer a point of view that challenges us to think about life in new and unique ways. Thinking is something that Americans seem afraid to do these days. Based on the rise of the Tea Party with its hate and fear based jargon and the slanderous distortions coming from Fox News, people in America have forgotten how to think for themselves and seem willing to surrender their minds to the emotion of fear.
MPB seems to be following suit in reducing its programming to the amusement and entertainment shows like “Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me” and “Only a Game. “ Not that there is anything wrong with these fine shows but public radio is meant to be something more than just idle amusement. It is supposed to be an alternative to network radio and television not more of the same. And in Mississippi where a girl cannot even take her girlfriend to a school prom because it might be distracting, there is a definite need for a forum where an alternative to homophobia can be heard.
No, this certainly cannot be the inappropriate content that Mr. Farrell is referring to because free speech is a constitutional right of the first amendment. He clearly knows that to censor any programming on public radio simply because it does not match someone’s political or religious views is against the first amendment. Right Mr. Farrell?