Zero

Mississippi Public Radio pulled Terry Gross’ program Fresh Air because of a single complaint by someone who heard some mild talk about sex from Louis CK (nothing like this, in other words). MPR has a “zero tolerance” policy for certain kinds of content on their airwaves.

Louie has posted a 13 minute rambling video begging Mississippians to ask for reinstatement of the show, which is worth watching if you want to ruin your morning. (Update: He took it down, smart move.)

I’m just surprised that Fresh Air lasted as long as it did with a zero tolerance policy, and I wonder how the hell any media outlet can exist with a hair trigger like that. Once the terminally offended hear how easy it is to get a program taken down, MPR will be nothing but re-broadcasts of the Lawrence Welk Show and interviews with the Social Security commissioner.






55 replies
  1. 1
    JL says:

    Beg Mississippi?

    I’m a native San Franciscan.

    Mississippi can kiss my ass…

  2. 2
    Toast says:

    Mississippi has public radio stations?

  3. 3
    john b says:

    so i’m guessing they got rid of this american life long ago, then? (or never had it in the first place?)

  4. 4
    TR says:

    Have you heard the Social Security commissioner? Mouth like a syphilitic sailor.

  5. 5
    AdamK says:

    “This video has been removed by the user.” What did it say?

  6. 6
    RSR says:

    The post at Maddowblog states that the NPR station was played for callers-on-hold by offices of the state university system.

    I’m not sure of the application of the rules both with regards to NPR and to the (assumedly) not-for-profit state university system, but I know that most businesses can’t just provide commercial radio to the public without a licensing agreement (and compensation, I imagine).

    Anyone know if that would apply to NPR? Even as a public service, they still have copyright over their programs, don’t they?

    And perhaps the university system had appropriate licensing in place.

  7. 7
    kgrant1073 says:

    I am shocked! Shocked! I choose to see this as in a rather Darwinian light – the states that pull this kind of knavish prudery (usually with more than a dash of anti-intellectualism thrown in for good measure) are simply dooming themselves in the long run. States like Mississippi and Oklahoma (and others of their ilk) will blissfully fade (I hope) into their sheltered wing-nuttery and the rest of us will only point and laugh, knowing that they can not really affect us (the rational folks of said states will need to move the heck out for their own good, of course).

  8. 8

    So, in theory, a small group of people could wipe out the station simply by complaining about every single program.

    Speaking theoretically. Of course.

    And public radio is soshulust so we’d be doing Miss. a favour.

  9. 9
    MAJeff says:

    Everybody knows the problem is Mississippi, Goddamn!

  10. 10
    mistermix says:

    @AdamK: It was 13 minutes of late-night rambling about how bad he feels, that people should tolerate other opinions, etc. He was smart to remove it, it wasn’t up to his usual high standard.

    @MAJeff: This is a show tune, but the show hasn’t been written for it yet. I love Nina but I used Mississippi Goddam a while back. Perhaps I should just make it a tag, the way that things are going in that state.

  11. 11

    Totally O/T, and as a rule I never complain about ads, but I’ve got to make an exception for that Barney Frank “special rights” ad. Between the pink, effeminate, font used for “homosexuals” and “Congressman Frank” and the picture of Frank with the facial expression that’s clearly designed to look like he’s, shall we say, a bit uncomfortable, it’s about as downright offensive as you could make an anti-gay rights ad short of busting out the slurs.

    Sorry, like I said, I don’t generally care to complain about ads, but that one is just way across the line, IMO.

  12. 12
    Rommie says:

    Considering the growing meme of the Teabaggers that Social Security is BAD(tm) and needs to go away, interviews with the SS commissioner could quickly go out-of-bounds. That leaves Lawrence Welk, which I can testify to being a mild form of torture once a weekend in my childhood.

  13. 13
    Bootlegger says:

    @kgrant1073: Which is fine except that our tax-paying asses will have to cover their tax-enough-already asses.

    As for the zero-tolerance policy, isn’t pretty much anything anyone says potentially offensive? Hell, I’m offended by Mississippi.

  14. 14

    @Brien Jackson: I think it’s pathetically stupid. You can hear the dip shit who created it guffawing when he discovered the curlz font.

    And really, Frank giving the camera one of his special “Dining Room Table” looks just doesn’t work. fReichtard cannon states gay men are big scary leather dudes who parade around in chaps or pirouetting nancy boys in tight pink tank tops.

    Frank looks like the lovable grouch next door. DOES NOT COMPUTE!

  15. 15
    gmf says:

    Ok – Mississippian here….

    RSR got part of it right – here’s what Maddow had on her blog:

    “Mississippi Public Broadcasting shares a campus with offices for the state’s colleges and universities, and we have learned that some of those offices play public radio for callers who are on hold. Recently, a caller got put on hold during Fresh Air and heard Terry Gross ask comedian Louis C.K… See More. if he always has sex with his shirt on.

    The caller complained, the station’s zero-tolerance policy for inappropriate conduct kicked in, and away went Terry Gross and Fresh Air for Mississippi.”

    I’d have never thought it possible to rage-quit a radio station, but I’ve done it. I’m going to spend the next few weekends listening to all the other shows – TAL, What’dya Know, Prarrie Home Companion, & whatever else I can find – and call and complain about every veiled & un-veiled sexual reference. Fuck ’em – I’m going to wear that “no tolerance” bullshit OUT.

    They’ll be classical music & Jerry Clower routines 24 hours a day – the bastards down here will be thrilled they finally have something they can listen to & I’ll be happy because my anger and misery is turned up to 14. If I’m lucky, this’ll give me a stroke & I’ll finally GTFO here.

  16. 16
    El Cid says:

    I’m surprised that it wasn’t taken off before by insulting Mississippi conservatives with the repeated use of complete sentences.

  17. 17
    Gene says:

    Have you ever heard Terry Gross on the Middle East? She’s an ass. Goodbye, Terry.

  18. 18
    RSR says:

    Does Lawrence Welk really have references to “Champagne Bubble music” or is that just an old joke? I wonder if the Baptists will call and complain about the promotion of alcohol?

  19. 19
    ornery curmudgeon says:

    “Once the terminally offended hear how easy it is to get a program taken down, MPR will be nothing but re-broadcasts of the Lawrence Welk Show and interviews with the Social Security commissioner.”

    mrmix, you don’t seem to be paying attention. You do have actual experience living in America during the past 40 years, right?

    This is selective rage, and will only be used to attack ‘librul’ programming. Hate and Rightwing propaganda will be allowed, and the occasional slipups by Right programming forgiven with a chuckle that boys will be boys.

  20. 20

    @kommrade reproductive vigor:

    Having had a hand in making plenty of negative adds, I’d put dollars to dimes the guy who designed this one found that and said “hey, it looks like someone just shoved something up his ass, and he’s gay! lolz!”

  21. 21
    Jude says:

    I’m originally from Mississippi. Fuck all you people with your bullshit about leaving them to their own devices. Mississippi has some fine public radio broadcasts, including the finest blues programs you’ll hear anywhere.

    We’re all Americans, assholes. We go on together or not at all. You don’t get to pick and choose which parts of the country are worthwhile and which aren’t anymore than the Freepers do.

    Now, as for the zero-tolerance policy, that’s just fucking stupid. Since someone, somewhere is going to be offended by whatever is on the radio at any given time, that policy is just a recipe for disaster. “Oh, I heard Wagner–you know who liked Wagner, don’t you? That’s right. Hitler. I demand that this proto-Nazi be removed from airplay immediately.”

    I mean, shit. I find Garrison Keillor to be roundly offensive to humor and wakefulness, but I’ve never called the station and bitched about it.

  22. 22
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    This was a stupid, cowardly move on MPR’s part (based on a stupid, cowardly policy) but they could have worked out the whole issue by doing a schedule shuffle. The policy would still be stupid, but it would ensure that MPR remained in compliance with the stupid policy while still being responsive to their listeners’ fee-fees. It happens all the time for all kinds of reasons. Move Fresh Air to, say, 7:00 pm, after business hours, and move your classical music programming or whatever to daytime. (Just don’t EVER play “Bolero” in the middle of the afternoon.)

  23. 23
    Punchy says:

    I didnt know Third World Countries like Mississippi had electricity to run a radio station.

    So they can have lightbulbs in their outhouses and A/C for their Klan rallies? Who knew?

  24. 24
    Bajsa says:

    I lived in Mississippi for seven months after Katrina. The only things in MS are casinos and ignorance. I wanted to get as far away from there as possible so I moved to Sweden.

  25. 25
    Comrade Jake says:

    How did it survive the Gene Simmons interview?

  26. 26
    Zifnab says:

    So wait? If I call in on ever AEI hack that I can take out of context, does that mean I can single handedly cleanse the NPR airwaves of that pack of hyenas?

  27. 27
    Social Security commissioner says:

    Well, you see we need y’all to work until you die ’cause the fuckin’ Republican spent y’alls fuckin’ retirement money.

    So what I’m saying basically is this: tough shit, cracker. Stock up on cat food while you can.

  28. 28
    Mike in NC says:

    Does Lawrence Welk really have references to “Champagne Bubble music” or is that just an old joke? I wonder if the Baptists will call and complain about the promotion of alcohol?

    Rebrand it as “Champagne Bible Music” and all will be well.

  29. 29
    Crockpot says:

    Many Mississippi listeners and contributors are not happy with this decision either. Look at the MPBOnline facebook entries with regard to the issue: MPBOnline.

    I know as a contributor I won’t be supporting a public broadcasting system that refuses to play ANYTHING that might be considered controversial. The only thing they have left after that is classical music and I can get plenty of that from my own music collection.

  30. 30
    Stefan says:

    The caller complained, the station’s zero-tolerance policy for inappropriate conduct kicked in,

    I hate, hate, hate the phrase “zero tolerance” — why not just be a man about it and say “we have an intolerance policy. We’re intolerant.” But no, to say that would be to admit it, and so intolerance has to be cloaked behind this mealy-mouthed PC “zero tolerance” bullsh[REST OF POST DELETED FOR INAPPROPRIATE CONTENT].

  31. 31
    Stefan says:

    We’re all Americans, assholes.

    Well, no. Only some of us are Real Americans.

  32. 32
    Martin says:

    Once the terminally offended hear how easy it is to get a program taken down, MPR will be nothing but re-broadcasts of the Lawrence Welk Show and interviews with the Social Security commissioner.

    Good luck with that. The Social Security commissioner’s name is Rimjob Sphincter McGayblowjob.

  33. 33
    Ginger Yellow says:

    I’m always bemused by the little disclaimers you sometimes hear on This American Life along the lines that the next segment includes an acknowledgement that sex exists at all. One of the oldest institutions on British public radio, aired early on Friday evenings and at Saturday lunchtimes is a running joke based on the lewd innuendo about an imaginary gameshow assistant called Samantha. For instance:

    “Samantha is off on a dinner date with a gentleman friend from Moscow who’s brought over a variety of caviars and an array of vodka-based apperitifs. She says he’s going to offer her delicious food in his hotel room and then liqour out on the balcony.”

  34. 34
    barry says:

    Lawrence Welk – heh heh.

  35. 35
    catclub says:

    @gmf:
    Complain about Car Talk! Its the number one public radio show by listenership.

    Those pistons going in and out and in and out….
    oh my heart.

  36. 36
    russell says:

    We’re all Americans, assholes. We go on together or not at all. You don’t get to pick and choose which parts of the country are worthwhile and which aren’t anymore than the Freepers do.

    You know what? I’m a lefty resident of MA and I totally agree with you.

    If the people in MS want to hear Fresh Air, they’re gonna have to get off of their @sses and get the show back on MPR.

    If they don’t give a large enough shit to get that done, no Terri Gross for them. Their loss.

    I won’t lose any sleep over it.

  37. 37
    El Cid says:

    @Jude: I always try to make sure and only make fun of Mississippi’s right wingers and right wing governments.

  38. 38
    Frank says:

    People in Mississippi always have sex fully clothed. Consequently, they found the question to Louis CK’s incomprehensible and, frankly, quite over the line.

    Unrelated Aside: I have almost stopped listening to Fresh Air since it became movie star/singing group/washed up celeb showcase. I still download it my podplayer, but I probably listen to no more than one in five shows. The Louis CK interview would have gone right into the “skip this” pile.

  39. 39
    Neutron Flux says:

    @Punchy: Bold talk for someone who lives in Kansas.

  40. 40
    fourmorewars says:

    Re Lawrence Welk, they’d find some troubling innuendo in a Lennon Sisters song, I’m sure.

    Which reminds me of something I heard on NPR a coupla years ago, a snippet from an old Bob Hope radio show that never aired. He’s interviewing Rosemary Clooney in front of an audience. She was married to Jose Ferrer, and Hope asked her how they get along in conversation, she from the world of popular music and he from all his highfalutin’ artistic productions.

    She said, ‘We meet somewhere in the middle.’

    Prompting the audience to roar for five minutes, and Hope to say after things calmed down, ‘It’s too bad I can’t air that.’

  41. 41
    Crockpot says:

    Lawrence Welk would never make it for long with corrupting songs like this: One Toke over the Line.

  42. 42
    Fleas correct the era says:

    Once the terminally offended hear how easy it is to get a program taken down, MPR will be nothing but re-broadcasts of the Lawrence Welk Show and interviews with the Social Security commissioner.

    Perpetually, not terminally. If they were terminally offended, they’d go away. (Dream on …) Whereas in fact if their outrage could be bottled it could satisfy the world demand for fossil fuels.

  43. 43
    Origuy says:

    @Crockpot: Oh, my fucking god. That video just made my week.

  44. 44
    Henk says:

    @kgrant1073: No such luck, they suck up far more federal tax dollars then they pay in. So in essence some of us are paying for the foolishness that is Mississippi.

  45. 45
    russell says:

    Crockpot, that was a thing of rare beauty.

  46. 46
    Sir Paul McCartney says:

    @Jude – Don’t take it bad. Take a sad song, and make it better.

  47. 47
    Phoebe says:

    They didn’t complain because of the sex-with-the-t-shirt on nonsense. Nobody cares about that. They complained about the sex- with-the-t-shirt bit because they hated the bit about heterosexual guys turning into giggling schoolgirls when confronted with homosexuality, and the whole pro-homo rant near the end.

    That’s the part that set them on fire, but they couldn’t say it. So they pretended to care about that tame tame t-shirt bit.

  48. 48
    crandell says:

    The good thing is that if you live in Mississippi and want to listen to Terry Gross, you don’t need Mississippi Public Radio. Or don’t they have the internet in Mississippi?

  49. 49
    Security Commander Nyder says:

    Here’s an alternative explanation: they wanted to cancel the show anyway because it’s too expensive, and this complaint seemed like a decent excuse. I don’t know if that’s true or not, but I saw something to that effect on Gawker somewhere. And the cover story (“zero tolerence”) is too stupid even to believe. It’s easier to believe that they are sacrificing Terri to save some jobs at the station but don’t want to say that.

  50. 50
    Mnemosyne says:

    I know Louis CK is popular, but I want to hang myself after every stand-up routine of his that I hear. It’s like listening to the Violent Femmes too many times in a row.

  51. 51
    Tonal Crow says:

    Terry Gross is a kickass journalist in a diminutive, mousy-grey disguise. She puts real effort into understanding her subject, asks canny questions in a disarming way, and never lets an interviewee evade a question without making it patently obvious that that’s what’s happened. Remember Bill O’Reilly ran away from her with his tail between his legs? She ought’a be a Pulitzer contender.

  52. 52
    gil mann says:

    @Gene:

    Have you ever heard Terry Gross on the Middle East? She’s an ass. Goodbye, Terry.

    I swear, some people would miss the point if it was programmed into their friggin’ OnStar.

  53. 53

    […] but Mississippi’s Fear of Sex Has To Make You Go Hmmm. I learn via the Maddowblog, (h/t Balloon Juice) that Mississipi Public Broadcasting got its knickers in a twist because one (count ‘em […]

  54. 54
    Exile from Middle Georgia says:

    Mississippi can kiss my ass

    Ugh. HelLO, privilege. It’s so nice for you that you live in San Francisco. But not everyone does. And a lot of people who don’t can’t move there. A LOT of people in Mississippi are stuck in Mississippi.

    If the rest of the world shrugs their shoulders and goes, “Ah well, buncha dumb rednecks, it’s their problem not mine” every time stupid happens there, stupid happens more often. Terry Gross’s really great show is going to get replaced by something narrower, safer, something that won’t ever challenge or enlighten anybody on any topic, and now there’s even less chance that smart young folks from Mississippi might accidentally get exposed to something that makes them think, There’s other places. There’s other ways of life.

    The stupid gets entrenched, and hey guess what West Coast, sooner or later it f-ing comes for you. Where do you think the Tea Party came from? By and large, they’re a bunch of people who grew up thinking Different=Threatening and Either You’re With Us Or You’re Against Us and not having any idea that there was a way to deal with the rest of the world beyond suspicion and xenophobia. You don’t think a little exposure to the world beyond the Thursday night dirt track stock-car races at an impressionable age might’ve made those people more civic-minded folks? And you don’t think this affects you AT ALL? Boy oh boy: that’s very nearly Mississippi-dumb.

  55. 55

    Zero tolerance and Mississippi? How could those two go together?

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. […] but Mississippi’s Fear of Sex Has To Make You Go Hmmm. I learn via the Maddowblog, (h/t Balloon Juice) that Mississipi Public Broadcasting got its knickers in a twist because one (count ‘em […]

Comments are closed.