5/15/2007

UPDATE: Opie and Anthony suspended for 30 Days following controversial bit...


XM News Release: Opie and Anthony taken off air for 30 days



Last week I wrote a short post about the controversial and degrading comments made on the XM Satellite Radio show of Gregg "Opie" Hughes and Anthony Cumia, and the response I received was far overwhelming. I have have received 22 comments on both the comment section on this blog and on the social bookmarking site Digg combined, with a lot of big Opie and Anthony fans voicing their defense of the duo and accusing me of supporting censorship and being a fascist. View the comments on Digg by following this link.
I still think the actual content in question was disgusting, and I do not understand why anyone disagrees with that, but I do not think they should be suspended for something said on a Satellite Radio station. As XM states in their press release announcing the suspension,

As a company, XM provides customers with tools to control what they listen to on XM. "The Opie & Anthony Show" appears on one of XM's explicit language channels (XL). Whenever a radio is tuned to an explicit language channel, the letters "XL" continuously appear on the screen. XM frequently mentions on its explicit language channels that the content may be inappropriate for certain listeners and tells how to "block" channels that feature this type of content. Channel blocking is available through xmradio.com or by calling 1-800-XMRADIO.

The decision to suspend them was not made until today because the duo decided to make light of the situation yesterday insisting, "We're under the same scrutiny as National Public Radio- it doesn't make sense." Of course it doesn't make sense, and the above statement from the press release announcing your suspension makes it perfectly clear why that doesn't make sense. The pair also addressed the Don Imus controversy, stating that Imus's career is now "gone- just because he was trying to entertain people." Again, an apt observation by the two radio hosts, and definitely an appropriate topic of conversation for an XM Satellite Radio talkshow.

Opie and Anthony were fired by CBS radio in 2002 for broadcasting a phone call from a couple that claimed to be having sex inside St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York. They have since been given back their slot on CBS talk radio, but the content of that show is much tamer than the XM version, and it will be aired as usual Wednesday.

What I find most shocking is the fact that XM chose to suspend Hughes and Cumia without any significant pressure from Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson or any of the other opportunists one might expect to be up in arms after a black woman (Condi Rice) was so viciously debased on a radio program hosted by white men. Maybe the fact that this did not happen shows that Sharpton and his cronies don't care as long as it is a member of the Bush Administration that is slandered, and maybe it shows that there are limits to the moral crusading on which they will embark.

I wonder what will come next, who will be the next to be pressured into self-censoring because of the pressures of the politically correct crowd? Will Bill Maher get fired by HBO for disrespecting the President? Probably not, but after this decision he should certainly be worried. We don't have to like everything that is said by men and women that are paid to go against the grain and push the envelope, and we certainly don't have a right to tell other people what they should consider entertainment. We do however have a responsibility to stand up for the basic principles of free speech and the right to be lewd and indecent if that is what you get paid to do.

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