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April 13, 2005



Actually Dan, they can have nipples, but what's absurd is to have shows centered around nipples (and the like) when kids are watching.

Two points: first, for those w/o kids, younger kids generally don't have context for what they are seeing. You and I may be enticed by the nipples and still be able to watch the show, but kids don't have the mechanisms for yet for dealing with the subject matter. You wonder why kids grow up disfunctional. And for those who say just use the "off" buttom, I'd like to remind you of the obvious. All of this stuff is like second hand smoke: it's very hard to get a way from it. From commercials about these shows during other shows, to cross advertising in other media, it's very hard to escape.

And two, people need to remember that with our freedoms, responsibilities go hand in hand. This is something that I think the left misses. I'm all for free speech, but you can't yell "fire" in a crowded theater (when there is no fire). Responsibilities are a big part of free speech.


Have you looked around or are you living under a rock? Because nipples show under clothing on normal people all the time.

Look around some time. People do not tape their nipples down in ordinary life. Not the men. Not the women. They poke out just a little bit. You're confusing responsibility with sanity.

And while we're on the subject of dysfunctional children, there have been about a thousand studies on this and miraculously none of them mention nipples seen through clothing. Just in case you wanted to know, boys and girls are at the most risk to become dysfunctional when they are raised without their biological father around.

Dan Gillmor

Al, here's a solution: Change the channel. Or turn off the TV.



" don't have the mechanisms for yet for dealing with the subject matter. You wonder why kids grow up disfunctional."

Yeah, and to think that most of these kids sucked on a nipple during the first stages of their life... Oh, we must protect the children! LOL..

Charlie Gordon


Unquestionably, you must join in the crusade to ban the Summer Olympics from ALL television! In event after event, nipples show.

If the nipples show, the Olympics must go!

Of course, the Winter Olympics must also be banned. Those skaters -- leaping -- crotches showing.

Obviously, the Olympics must go!

Now, let's discuss professional wrestling.............

bit buck

Al - do you seriously believe that kids grow up to be "dysfunctional" because they saw too many nipples on TV when they were younger? if yes, then obviously, you saw a lot of them.

Will Rowan

... a recent episode of NIp//Tuck showed full-frontal 'bloke with boobs' - I guess if had been 'bird with boobs' they couldn't have shown 'em. But the point of the scene was just how realistic they were.


The Gilead police state that America has become is spoiling my enjoyment of many non violent erotica websites. I think its past time that this deplorable revival of the dark ages be rolled back and the Judeo/Xtian tradition be quickly replaced by a restored Greco/ Renaissance tradition.
Just say no to megalomania, monoculture and monotheism - yes to a new enlightenment. Thank you.


Jeez, you guys are rough - and you don't think "context." It's not nipples, it's the whole culture of sex and gratuitous violence. And it's not necessarily censorship. It comes back to responsibility. I just did a search and found this:

I'd like to know how you guys think about the responsibilities that go along with free speech. From what I can see, many people don't realize that there are responsibilities at all!

Dan Gillmor

Al, the larger context is liberty itself. Free speech is about protecting speech that makes you furious, because otherwise we can't protect your own speech in the end.

I'm all for responsibility. I wish Big Media would exercise some. But the main responsibility in this case is with parents. They have choices. There are ways to block channels they don't like. There are remote controls, to turn the damn TV sets off.

Responsibility should not mean nanny-state censorship, which is precisely where we're heading at this point.


Al, how about you monitor and censor what your children watch, and let me monitor mine? In fact, the Internet is far more "dangerous" to your children than TV. Personally, I wouldn't let any younger child access the Internet without my looking over the shoulder. But I won't force you to do the same with your children, OK?


Al, how about you monitor and censor what your children watch, and let me monitor mine? In fact, the Internet is far more "dangerous" to your children than TV. Personally, I wouldn't let any younger child access the Internet without my looking over the shoulder. But I won't force you to do the same with your children, OK?


nohelp has a heck of a point. If you get your dander up over nipples, you should see what's out on the net. With little to no effort, videos can be found of actual murders, sodomy, child molestation, cruelty to animals, lethal accidents and bizarre sex acts to name just a few. Explicit heterosexual sex looks tame in comparison.

My fifteen year old neighbor has collected many of them on his computer. (He's actually just a normal kid.) That's what kids are watching. It makes the whole nipple taping thing that much more of a joke.


No, you guys are missing my point. When I talk about responsibility, I'm talking about the content providers and the stations/channels that run the shows. If you are given the right of free speech, certain responsibilities go along with it.

Intrinsic in our system of freedom is responsibility. What is in the other hand of Lady Liberty? It's the book of laws.

From a teaching guide....

"5. The tablet represents the book of laws on which the nation is founded. The tablet is in the shape of a keystone. In the science of building, a keystone is the stone which keeps all the the other stones together. Without the keystone the building would fall apart. The law is the keystone of the United States.
Without the law, our freedom and democracy would fall apart."

And, yes, parents can turn the TV off. But the crap produced is everywhere - TV, advertising, movies, print, etc. As I said before, even on tame shows, ads for the stronger shows are shown. And I'll say it again for those that just want to say "well, just turn the thing off", it's a two way street. I'm not saying don't show nipples or whatever, but I am saying that the content providers (the show's producers) AND the stations/channels/networks that advertise the shows and show them) need to be responsible for the audience.

So, yes, I believe in free speech, but what we show our kids is a two way street - the parents have to be involved AND the content providers/stations have to be responsible. I don't consider it censorship. You can yell "fire" in an empty theater but not a full one.

Ran Talbott

"You wonder why kids grow up disfunctional."

Not at all, Al: all too often, it's because they suffer the tragic misfortune of being raised by people like you.

You prattle about "morality" and "responsibility", yet you spread lies like a 3-year-old with a pilfered jar of jelly when it suits your purposes, and you'll absolve the people you like of any sin if you can find one you consider "comparable" committed by someone you don't.

You've done it repeatedly in the past, and now you're doing it again: when you needed "support" for your desire to impose censorship, you simply invented a premise that seeing the outline of a nipple is Bad For The Children (tm), ignoring thousands of years of human history, and present-day sociology.

Sadly, Al, your children _do_ have a "context" for "dealing with" nipples: a context in which honesty is for "losers", "responsibility" is something you impose on someone else, and the possession of body parts which might be deemed to have some sexual function is shameful.

It's not the _only_ recipe I know of for "dysfunctional", but it's one of the most likely to succeed.


It's funny how the people who preach so much about responsiblity of broadcasters and how bad it is that a breast or nipple might be shown on primetime TV, have no such strong compunction when it comes to violence, shootings, and guns on TV in general. I'd say the latter is far more damaging to young kids than a boob ever was.


Ran, I don't have any public comments for you. I feel a responsibility to the rest of the readers to not let this go into the gutter.

Dave, I'm really talking about all of those things. The nipple is just an example.
Everyone who is focusing on the nipple, please look beyond the nipple and look at the big picture (oh, I could have fun with this!).
Again, my whole point is about "free speech" and the responsibilities that go along with it that make it work.


Al has a point -- umm, pun. The n*pple bone's connected to the m*mmary bone. Slipperyslope speaking.

Meanwhile I'm enchanted by the idea that Al has n*pples himself -- and has them taped, as well as the n*ps of all others in his household.

I can see a great entreprenuereal opportunity here in n*pple tape -- particularly in Al's neighborhood.

Don't be the last one on your block with taped n*pples. Meanwhile I'm gonna take some pasties and stand outside the local postoffice, and hand out n*p covers to everyone I see who needs to have their t**ts properly covered.


I think broadcaster responsibility is a good thing, but what do we do when there are so many different interpretations? You don't want my interpretation of responsibility and I don't want yours. Naturally, the middle ground has to fall somewhere between what I want and what you want.

The whole objection over the "nipple crisis" is that someone on the far right is choosing their interpretation of responsibility for everyone else. The values reflected need to represent the middle ground.


Craig, it's about, as a society, how do we teach our offspring for the future? No matter where we are in the continuum of "properness", everyone follows certain conducts. This is true whether we're talking about "pleases and thank you's" or violent/sexual content/conduct. Even the most liberal person on Earth follows some conventions with his fellow person. I think most people would agree that we've moved from a more "proper" environment to a less "proper" environment. People say just turn the TV off. Well, the TV is just one of hundreds of inputs that people absorb. Many people feel that all of these "less proper" inputs (I'll use the word "negative") hurt, block, inhibit parents (and schools) abilities to teach kids. Many people complain about the Ken Lay's of the world. Does it help kids to glorify bad behavior? If we don't teach kids right and wrong, we're going to end up with many more Ken Lays's. Right? Congress, etc. can make as many laws as they want, but if people don't care (or understand why they're there), then we'll have more and more problems.
There are many other people who feel that there should be no limits. I suppose they really mean the limits that might affect them.

So, it's not about nipples, it's a much bigger issue. It's not about censorsoring nipples. I think people have to realize that the parents efforts are only a percentage of what kids use/learn from in growing up. These hundreds of inputs affect the kids too. So, I guess, for the people who don't care too much about how kids grow up, this "anything goes" way is okay. For the people who do care about how kids grow up and growing our culture, it is very important that there be rules. So, as you can see, just flipping the TV off doesn't work.

Some would also say that the those who don't want to help our offspring grow up and build a better culture are selfish.


Hi Al,
I've carefully read what you wrote a couple of times, and as near as I can make out, you're actually agreeing with me.

I've read some fascinating stuff about child development lately, and what the research says is that the single most important factor for children growing up is having both parents available to them.

In particular, having a stay-at-home mom and having the biological father stick around consistently produce the most well adjusted offspring. What input the children get from the rest of the world has much less impact.

The conclusion I draw from this is that men need to be paid more so that their wives can stay home and raise the children.

Ran Talbott

"the single most important factor for children growing up is having both parents available to them."

Obviously, that research is either bogus or badly reported: if you put a group of children in a guerrilla war zone where they only get more than 500 calories per day once or twice a month, the only significant difference between the 1- and 2-parent households is that kids in the latter group are more likely to get a decent burial.

Furthermore, we know that American slaveowners, KKK lynch mob members, and Nazi concentration camp guards were all more likely to be raised in a two-parent, church-going household, had no need of n*pple t*pe, and had much better manners (except, of course, when dealing with "the subhumans") than today's kids.

So, while having both parents present might have been the "most important factor" that those particular researchers explicitly evaluated, it wouldn't even make it into the top 5 of a comprehensive list.

Mencken said that "For every complex problem there is a solution that is simple, neat and wrong". Most of the people trying to blame society's ills on "The Breakdown of The Family" (tm) are, at best, naive: they're attempting the equivalent of solving two equations in a dozen unknowns. At worst, they're being dishonest (perhaps with themselves, perhaps with others), pitching a revisionist history of the "traditional family" that has more in common with 1950s sitcoms than actual events.

The U.S.-style suburban nuclear family is a relatively recent innovation, historically. And, frankly, one that hasn't worked all that well at achieving the goal of producing new generations to carry society onward.

"The conclusion I draw from this is that men need to be paid more so that their wives can stay home and raise the children."

The truth is that most American men _are_ being paid enough for their wives to stay home full-time and raise the kids. They just aren't being paid enough for them to stay in a large suburban home with 2 SUVs and a ski boat in the driveway, and a TV big enough to rate its own ZIP code. Most of the middle-class Americans you hear complaining about how hard it is to "make ends meet" are having that problem solely because they've chosen unrealistic "ends".

The shift from the attitude that luxury was something to be achieved later (if ever) to something to which we're entitled right now has a lot more to do with kids growing up screwed up than the relative number of live-in parents.


Craig, we could be agreeing with each other; I don't know yet. As long as you can see that my nipple comment is a much bigger issue, then at least we agree on that.

Ran, your logic is flawed as Craig and I (and most everyone else I would imagine) are assuming the range of US conditions that families operate. Guerrilla zones, slaveowners, KKK lynch mob members, and Nazi concentration camp guards are other cases not considered.

Daniel Conover

First of all, let me stipulate a few things: I enjoy nipples, breasts, sex, nudity, bawdy humor, good porn, bad porn, yada yada yada. I hate censorship. I love Larry Flynt. I think one of the BEST things about New Media is that you can say what you want, how you want, when you want, to whoever wants to hear it. I love the First Amendment. I love it when the ACLU defends the rights of Nazis and Klansmen, and I love it when people show up at Nazi and Klan rallies and really give 'em what-for.

That said, I think Al has a point.

I think that if we want to honor and protect these freedoms, a good way to do it is to speak up to the cheesey and the sleazy and freely express our disapproval.

If I have to choose between censorship and stuck I don't like, I'll always stand up for the rights of the stuff I don't like. But that doesn't mean I have to applaude the stuff itself. I mean, what I hated about the Super Bowl halftime show wasn't Janet Jackson's nipple, or that children saw it. What I hated was that big-ass entertainment corporations went trolling around in search of what would trip our national trigger and this is what they came up with. We're not talking about performance artists with something to say here -- we're talking about stupid sex-shock kitsch: the opposite of art, the opposite of erotica.

And, predictably, because the people in charge of that halftime show were so plain dumb, now we've got the FCC on some twice-as-dumb TV spay-and-neuter campaign.

I can accept that mine is a minority opinion but here goes: I think one way to really make the First Amendment mean something is to speak back when corporations cheapen it with stupid, childish titilation for profit. I think we should talk about quality. And I don't think that people who worry about the effect this is having on children are necessarily wrong.

I'm not calling for regulation -- hell, I'd be fine with ZERO regulation (if such a thing were possible). I just think that if enough of us made it clear that we thought these wannabe hipsters were, in fact, dorks, they'd try impressing us with better material instead.

Vidar Hokstad

Growing up in Norway, I got to see nipples all the time. Nobody cares if there are nipples plastered all over national TV, on the frontpage of a well respected newspaper, or if they see bare breasts on most beaches.

Perhaps I'm scarred for life. However personally I'm more concerned about the wellbeing of kids that grow up in an environment where they are being taught to be ashamed, embarrassed and that there's something "wrong" with something as normal as a nipple.

(And Norway is the most puritan of the Scandinavian countries... I wonder what a psychological wreck I would've turned into if I'd grown up in Denmark, where the norm is for all beaches to be clothes optional unless explicitly marked otherwise, and women frequently sunbathe topless in public parks...)

To put it in perspective: After the whole Janet Jackson thing, the British press made a big fuss over it as if it was a very naughty thing, but great fun, and used the opportunity to print pictures of it, as they inevitably do (British tabloids have the sensibilities of a 13 year old school boy, meaning they like printing anything which gives them an excuse for nudity, using swear words or talking about bodily functions).

Meanwhile the press in most of rest of Europe wrote bemused articles about how repressed the US was, and the ensuing media circus for something like that and happily reprinted the pictures to illustrate what you couldn't get away with in the US.

We had great fun with it. People would happily watch the film clips at work and nobody would raise an eyebrow except to comment on the extreme level of self censorship expected by US broadcasters.

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