In 2000, many media critics had a fit when they learned that TV
entertainment executives had negotiated with the federal government to place
anti-drug messages directly into their programs to avoid having to air free
public-service announcements that would cut into their profits.
Now, Viacom, the parent company of CBS, UPN, Nickelodeon, MTV,
VH-1 and Showtime, is at it again. This time, however, it's for a noble
cause, the "public interest," not ad savings. Viacom has joined with the
liberal Kaiser Family Foundation for a "public education initiative." Viacom
is touting that its programs on various networks would "incorporate HIV/AIDS
themes" into their sitcoms and dramas.
If a red flag just went up, it's for good reason. What Viacom
and Kaiser call "public education" is what most anyone else would call
propaganda. And when that indoctrination includes ideas like getting condoms
to children without parental consent while learning to drop outdated,
intolerant (i.e., Judeo-Christian) ideas about homosexuality, it's beyond
"progressive." It's radical.
To give you an example of CBS's "public education" in action,
take the Feb. 2 episode of the Ted Danson sitcom "Becker." Danson's title
character, a doctor, sees a 15-year-old boy named Brad, who comes in
complaining of painful urination. (He told his mother only that he had a
sore throat.) When Brad admits being sexually active, Becker replies, "Fine,
I guess, as long as you're wearing condoms." The boy is screened for
sexually transmitted diseases, and says he doesn't need condoms to prevent
AIDS and could get that "cocktail thing" if he contracts the disease anyway.
Becker has the liberals' appropriate political answer: "Congratulations, you
just reached a level of stupidity only found in Republicans and lower
Becker punishes the boy by withholding his test data until he's
nearly in tears over the thought that he has AIDS. It all ends happily with
the boy -- now publicly educated -- accepting a bag of condoms.
On UPN's "Half and Half" on Feb. 3, Mona demands to know if
Spencer used "protection." He says no. "You had sex without a condom? That
is possibly the stupidest thing you've ever done." When her friend Dee Dee
says she doesn't keep a stash of condoms, Mona shows more contempt: "Are you
like Sister From Another Century or something?" In another scene, a gay man
lectures: "I can't believe you're out there waving that thing around without
the safety on. It's so 1981."
Ain't it grand to be in enlightened 2003?
Is this true health education, or just condom promotion? In July
2001, a study for the National Institutes of Health found that while use of
condoms was about 85 percent effective at preventing transmission of HIV,
that's a failure rate of 15 percent. Human papilloma virus, or HPV, is the
cause of more than 90 percent of all cases of cervical cancer, which kills
more American women each year than AIDS. The NIH analysis found no evidence
that condoms prevent HPV transmissions.
Other serious venereal diseases -- including chlamydia, syphilis
and genital herpes -- also showed no reduction with condom use. These
diseases also increase the risk of contracting HIV. So what Viacom and
Kaiser are promoting is not "safer sex." It's promoting a sexually
"liberated" viewpoint that at best is controversial and is not established
Not every one of the CBS and UPN shows contained health
education. Some lashed out against "intolerance" of homosexuality. The Jan.
24 episode of "Presidio Med" on CBS tells the story of 15-year-old Curtis,
who says he's gay. His father is accepting, but his mother thinks he's just
confused. Despite a pediatrician assuring him that being gay is OK and
things will get easier, a janitor later finds Curtis hung himself, another
casualty of "intolerance."
On UPN's "Enterprise," the Feb. 5 episode went intergalactic
with the agenda. No one here had AIDS at all, but a Vulcan obtained a social
disease through a mind-meld. The mind-melders -- the metaphorical stand-in
for homosexuals -- are "part of the telepathic minority. One of the reasons
they left (that evil planet) Vulcan was to escape prejudice. Their behavior
is considered unnatural. They're seen as a threat." One doctor complains
"there's more intolerance today than there was a thousand years ago."
If the Knights of Columbus came to Viacom proposing a joint
project to promote the joys of virginity or a patriotic pro-America message
in a time of war, you know the reaction. The Hollywood crowd would wail in
protest over this propagandistic abuse of artistic products. But that's not
the case when the message fits Hollywood like a glove -- or a condom.