02 January 2010

Meet the New Censors, Same As the Old Censors

Today's entry from the Department of Misplaced Priorities concerns The Who and the Super Bowl. And one-issue politics. And idiots who cannot manage to distinguish between "artist" and "artwork," or "performer" and "performance."

One supposed child-advocacy organization in Pompano Beach, near where the Super Bowl will be played next month, requested that the NFL disinvite The Who due to Pete Townsend's expired registration as a sex offender... which was imposed on him for the horrible, horrible crime of accessing a site that also hosted child pornography in the course of researching background material (some of which is implicit in Endless Wire, so it doesn't appear to have been just an excuse). In any event, Townsend's "sentence" of appearing on the registry expired a while back.

Meanwhile, halfway across the country, we've got some real abuse going on at Texas Tech. Even if you credited the most innocuous-sounding of Mr Leach's descriptions of his treatment of a college sophomore suffering from post-concussion syndrome, that treatment was medically inappropriate. There's a huge difference between the medically indicated "avoid sharp, loud sounds and bright lights" and shutting someone — alone — in a dark (not darkened) room. And if you've got someone who could suffer an unpredictable seizure or relapse, you simply do not shut them away from supervision in the first place!

Besides, we're talking about a bloody football game. Even if one credited the censors of Pompano Beach — which I do not — it's not exactly a stretch to question whether this is just a publicity stunt. We'd be much better off barring Michael Vick from football for abusing dogs (and actually serving time); or Ray Lewis from football for his conviction for obstruction of justice in a homicide investigation (and actually serving time); or any of at least a dozen others within the NFL... if, that is, one is going to assert "once a miscreant, always a miscreant and danger." The whole point of limited terms of punishment (or, in Townsend's case, a limited term of registration) is the anticipation that the punishment will change the behavior in question for the better. That this doesn't always work is beside the point.

Besides, after the Springsteen debacle last year and the 0.56sec of a middle-aged black woman's breast before that, does anyone really look to the Super Bowl's halftime show as an "endorsement" of anything?