Saturday, July 22, 2017

It's National Review time!

From an intern called Jeff Cimmino kvetching about a podcast by a couple of Harvard Divinity School graduates and their "weekly church-like service for the secular focusing on on a Potter text's meaning" who is worried about the Death of God and links to Nietzsche to make it clear how upset he is. (Little imagining, I suppose, how much of the books is devoted to a serious and ultimately consoling meditation on death, the deaths of those we love and then our own. But missing Jesus, of course, so WTAF, amirite?)

Drawing by David Hughes for Esquire, October 2007.
And then from the other, libertine side of the Movement, this:

Be Very Worried About the Future of Free Expression
Censorship is getting very popular on the Left.
By David Harsanyi — July 21, 2017
It's the

The Slow Death of Free Speech in Britain (America, You're Next!)

trope (a hardy perennial, that example's from Reason Magazine in April 2015), where the conservatives pick up on some headline on the activities of the UK Advertising Standards Authority and its sister organization, the Committtee of Advertising Practice, organizations entirely run and funded by the British advertising industry, with no input from government.
Sometimes you need a censor, this Jezebel writer points out, because nefarious conglomerates like “Big Yogurt” have been “targeting women for decades.” She — and the British, apparently — don’t believe that women have the capacity to make consumer choices or the inner strength to ignore ads peddling probiotic yogurts.
This is why the U.K. Committee of Advertising Practice (and, boy, it takes a lot of willpower not to use the cliché “Orwellian” to describe a group that hits it on the nose with this kind of ferocity) is such a smart idea. It will ban, among others, commercials in which family members “create a mess, while a woman has sole responsibility for cleaning it up,” ones that suggest that “an activity is inappropriate for a girl because it is stereotypically associated with boys, or vice versa,” and ones in which “a man tries and fails to perform simple parental or household tasks.”
Failing to link the Megan Reynolds Jezebel piece (or to realize that "this Jezebel writer" has a name).

I guess Harsanyi doesn't have much willpower, because the cliché "Orwellian" seems to have slipped out there in spite of him, and I wonder what he means by saying that the CAP "hits it on the nose" with a "kind of ferocity". Is he talking about its name? (Committee of Advertising Practice reminds him somehow of the Ministries of Peace, Truth, Love, and Plenty)? Or the unmotivated viciousness of their attack on Big Yogurt? (unmentioned in the ASA report, that's from a semi-humorous example Reynolds contributes of US ads that might not be allowed under the new UK standards)? I think "Orwellian" might qualify as this angry attack on something that isn't there to make his readers believe that it is there.
If you believe this kind of thing is the bailiwick of the state, it’s unlikely you have much use for the Constitution. I’m not trying to pick on this one writer. Acceptance of speech restrictions is a growing problem among millennials and Democrats. For them, opaque notions of “fairness” and “tolerance” have risen to overpower freedom of expression in importance.
Well, I certainly understand how you might think of commercial speech as within the bailiwick of the state in the United States, where we have a written Constitution with its First Amendment and a lengthy history of judicial examination of the question of commercial speech since the Supreme Court ruled in Valentine vs. Chrestensen, 1942 that
"We are … clear that the Constitution imposes … no restraint on government as respects purely commercial advertising."
since the object of advertising is not to express a protected opinion but to make money; although this view has been greatly circumscribed since then, to the point where
a government restriction on advertisements or other commercial speech is permissible only on a showing that (1) the advertising is misleading, (2) the government interest in regulation is substantial, (3) the regulation directly advances that interest, and (4) the regulation is not more extensive than necessary
which might or might not allow them to consider banning sexual stereotypes from TV ads, but I wouldn't count on anybody trying to find out any time in the next couple of centuries

BUT IN BRITAIN IT'S NOT IN THE PURVIEW OF THE STATE AT ALL, THE AUTHORITIES ARE ENTIRELY INDEPENDENT ORGANS OF THE ADVERTISING INDUSTRY ITSELF. Commercial speech isn't even a concept there. If you think the Tory government is imposing these standards on the industry, you are wrong. This is what makes the discussion so unbearably stupid.

Similarly, in the United States we have the industry-run, government-independent Advertising Self-Regulatory Council, which does in fact regulate children's ads in ways similar to the way the new ASA standards in the UK regulate all ads (9th edition, 2009):
  1. Advertisers should avoid social stereotyping and appeals to prejudice, and are encouraged to incorporate minority and other groups in advertisements and to present positive role models whenever possible.
  2. Advertisers are encouraged to capitalize on the potential of advertising to serve an educational role and influence positive personal qualities and behaviors in children, e.g., being honest and respectful of others, taking safety precautions, engaging in physical activity.
  3. Although there are many influences that affect a child’s personal and social development, it remains the prime responsibility of the parents to provide guidance for children. Advertisers should contribute to this parent-child relationship in a constructive manner.
Why aren't you complaining about that, National Review? Why aren't you calling in the Trump administration to put a stop to this free-enterprise tyranny forcing kids across America to see ads children being respectful of others and active and featuring children of color or in wheelchairs? Probably because it's SO NORMAL YOU DON'T NOTICE IT.

Or because The Telegraph doesn't write a hysterical report on it so how would American conservatives even find out? 

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