When a notorious “shock jock” threatens to send strippers to your house to harass you, you know you’ve gotten his attention. But in this case, his threat results from his fear. The truth is, shock jocks and other supporters of broadcast filth are shaking in their boots. And the person they’re afraid of? An attractive young wife and mother of two named Penny Nance.
What has the shock jocks up in arms is that the Federal Communications Commission has just hired Mrs. Nance as an advisor and liaison to Congress on issues related to the cable and broadcast industry. I know Penny; she’s bright and dedicated. And she is the founder of the Kids First Coalition, lobbying against pornography. She has testified before Congress against Internet porn and signed an open letter to the president calling for stricter enforcement of indecency laws, urging “repeated and expanded” fines “until broadcasters understand they are not above the law.” Penny is concerned about what she calls a “huge indecency problem” on basic cable, and she has urged the return of the “family hour” on television. Sounds good to me and to millions of Americans who share her views.
But those who oppose any standards of broadcast decency are in a rage. They’re so used to wallowing in the dirt—I guess it’s not surprising that they play dirty now.
One shock jock, as I mentioned, threatened to send strippers to her house; another one, after taking verbal shots at her, told his audience he had her home address. A blogger posted her address and telephone number on the Internet, forcing the Nances to change their phone number. Many bloggers are inviting readers to contact the FCC and demand that Mrs. Nance be fired. National Public Radio guest Todd Shields, a writer for Mediaweek.com, suggested that those concerned with First Amendment rights might find her unfit to work at the FCC. One morning radio host said on the air, “Penny Nance frightens me.” And much of what others are saying about Mrs. Nance isn’t fit to repeat.
This is pure nonsense. Anybody promoting decency in the media is immediately labeled an enemy of the First Amendment. Despite these attacks, Penny Nance has remained calm and gracious. Getting angry with cultural polluters, she says, would be like getting angry with a blind man for stepping on your foot. Meanwhile, she is eagerly getting on with her new job. She was asked to come to the FCC, she says, to work on behalf of “the millions of American mothers who are sickened by the constant diet of cultural sewage that’s being fed to their children.”
The vicious attacks on Mrs. Nance remind us of the offence of the Gospel—in this case, of course, the offence of someone who correctly calls the abuse of human sexuality a social evil.