AS I SEE IT - 12/07/2000
Apparently L. Brent Bozell and his friends that attempt to take credit for
"removing companies from Smackdown" have now made this practice in vogue among
those of the politically far-right...
CJ Marsciano forwarded some information to me about two right-wing loons attempting to take credit for the corporate terrorism campaign that has been waged against the World Wrestling Federation.
First, we have the Reverend D. James Kennedy.
Kennedy, who has a syndicated pay and pray TV show across the United States which is reported on his website to "air on more than 600 stations, four cable networks, and to 156 nations on the Armed Forces Network". He also owns WAFG 90.3 FM, a on-airand online radio station in Florida, all through his "Coral Ridge Ministries" out of Coral Ridge, FL.
Reverend Kennedy has decided to join in on the fun of telling adults what they should watch on television, listen to on radio, and read.
Kennedy views one of his jobs of his Coral Ridge Ministries as:
"Reforming the Culture - Protecting religious liberty and America's Christian heritage by encouraging the application of biblical principles to all spheres of our culture and to all of life."
If that were only a matter of Reverend Kennedy and his followers performing their own religious witness, no one would object, even if we disagreed with what he said.
But some examination into Rev. Kennedy's background proves interesting:
"Christians did not start the culture war but...we are going to end it. That is a fact, and the Bible assures us of victory."
For those of you who don't get his code... the phrase "culture war" can be translated as "I have the right to tell you what you can watch on television, what you can read, and what music you can listen to because I am morally superior to you."
Reverend Kennedy blames church/state separation for "teenage pregnancy, sexual perversion, and school violence at intolerable levels, falling test scores, horrendous illiteracy, and dangerous gangs". He blamed the Columbine killings on the fact that "the Supreme Court has rid our schools of the Bible".
Further, research by GLAAD also reveals that Kennedy is theologically what is called a "Reconstructionalist". This is a movement that seeks to replace secular law with Old Testament laws, including "mandatory stoning of homosexuals, adulterers, blasphemers, juvenile delinquents, and women who go unchaste to their marriage beds." In other words, folks, he's the Christian equivalent of the Ayatollah Khomeini.
And what do you know?
If you go to his website, under the section of "Center for Reclaiming America", you find that he is aligned with...The Media Resource Center.
Yup. L. Brent Bozell's Media Research Center.
Guess what else?
Coral Ridge Ministries also uses the PTC/MRC strategies of corporate terrorism for companies that sponsor what he defines as "anti-family" policies, such as funding Planned Parenthood, including Target Department Stores, Johnson & Johnson, American Express and Levi Strauss.
As for his campaign against the WWF, I said in Wrestling fans Against Censorship PTC Watches this past week, D. James Kennedy and his Coral Ridge Ministries are another organization that views censorship of WWF programming as one of their organizational priorities.
Read these direct quotes from Coral Ridge Ministries material (thanks again to CJ Marsciano):
"In March, we took a look at The Stranger In The House, specifically, television's propagation of explicit sex and violence, and the dollars that back it. Thousands of concerned viewers responded by joining Dr. Kennedy's in an open letter to top 100 advertisers that sponsor shows like "WWF Smackdown" and South Park."
Further, Kennedy's website says:
"In reaction to a Coral Ridge Hour expose on the World Wrestling Federation aired in August, a retired lieutenant colonel sent a letter and the Coral Ridge Video to the Department of Defense. They have since pulled all of their advertising from WWF Smackdown."
What is especially pathetic is that the first wrestling clip used in this Coral Ridge Hour segment as "damning evidence" when they contacted the United States Armed Forces was the famous clip of New Jack leaping off the basketball backboard from last year's ECW November To Remember.
Apparently, the culture-warriors of Coral Ridge Ministries are so far divorced from reality that they can't tell the difference or choose not to tell the difference between ECW and the WWF.
So the Reverend Kennedy and L. Brent Bozell are politically in bed together as regards the WWF and their "culture war" .
But that's not all they have in common.
D. James Kennedy was a member of the American Freedom Coalition, the same Unification Church front group L. Brent Bozell was a board member of. It was widely reported (in public, that is) that Kennedy have left "after discovering the Unification Church connections of the organization".
However, as I've said earlier Kennedy had no such concerns about continuing to work with a American Freedom Coalition board member (and contributor to the Unification Church-sponsored Washington Times and Insight Magazine), and his Media Research Center. This information can be found at this link, and then after you go to the link for the "Center for Reclaiming America".
Further, if one looks at a Christian website called Biblical Discernment Ministries throughthis link we'll find the following that suggests that the Reverend Kennedy is apparently only concerned about his Moon connections being publicly known:
"...Kennedy held a position with Sun Myung Moon's now-defunct Coalition for Religious Freedom (CRF). Other so-called evangelicals that served with Kennedy at CRF as executive committee and/or advisory board members were Tim LaHaye (CRF's paid chairman!), Don Wildmon..."
This is the very same Reverend Donald Wildmon that heads up the American Family Association, who also is involved with efforts to censor WWF programming, as reported in yesterday PTC Watch update.
More on him later.
Additionally, as Chey Simonson said in the interview published on PWBTS.com and in PTC Watches that made L. Brent Bozell's connections public to wrestling fans, it was reported that most of the members of the AFC also belong to something that is always referred to as a "conservative educational group promoting Judeo-Christian values" called the Council for National Policy.
Lo and behold, what organization is the Reverend Kennedy a member of, as we look through this link? The Council for National Policy.
Now, some information on the second of our "culture warriors" the Reverend Donald Wildmon's and his "American Family Association" has joined in on the fun with making the WWF and Smackdown a pet project.
The "American Family Association" is a right-wing Christian organization headquartered in Tupelo, Mississippi. Long before the Media Research Center began its work, the AFA was the first major group to serve as a "media watchdog" of the radical religious right; originally known as the National Federation of Decency.
Like the MRC/PTC, the AFA's primary activities are the organization of boycotts and letter writing campaigns targeted at businesses and media entities which have any type of sexual content or violence. The organization publishes a monthly newsletter (the most recent edition of which is available on their web site) listing those television shows, businesses, and advertisers who they are currently targeting.
The organization engages in rhetoric worthy of the most extreme Bozellian tirades, as this example will indicate:
"GM and AT&T might just as well be selling heroin on the street corner and thumping their chests because its profitable. These companies are helping to corrupt our culture, and hastening Gods judgment on our nation.". This, after outrageous claims that General Motors and AT&T "have now jumped enthusiastically into the pornography business".
Like the Parents Television Council, the AFA often makes claims of their "effectiveness" that cannot be substaniated such as their claim found at this link to have caused "ABC [to lose] about $1 million in ad revenues per episode of NYPD Blue because of AFA efforts."
The organization also has its own media mouthpiece, WAJS FM 90.9, a radio station that broadcasts both over-the-air and online, as well as American Family Radio, a over-air network with stations primarily in the South and Midwest.
The AFA is a leader in the efforts to censor the Internet, beginning with its censorship campaign in 1996 and 1997 that targeted online service provider CompuServe in an attempt to expedite charges of violating the later-overturned Communication Decency Act (CDA), a provision in the Telecommunications Bill that criminalized the posting of "indecent" material on the Internet.
Apparently the AFA wanted to make clear (in an excerpt from one of their 1996 press release from spokesperson Patrick A. Trueman that they didn't feel that parents had the responsibility to prevent their children from seeing television programming or Internet content parents felt to be offensive to their moral or religious standards.
Trueman said: "The fact that CompuServe allows parents to block pornography is not sufficient to block liability under the Communications Decency Act." In other words, the AFA felt they should determine what people have the right to view on the Internet. The AFA felt that CompuServe should remove the option of viewing the material and that the (later-overturned) law should order them to do so.
Even with the overturning of the CDA, it should also be noted that the AFA currently offers censorware to the public directly off of their own website.
Even if many of you aren't political, an organization like this should concern those who view the many wrestling websites who have Women of Wrestling sections. In the world of the AFA, these sites would be blocked from public view.
In terms of the AFA-WWF connection, articles on the AFA website paints a delightfully simplistic picture of the WWF, as a representtative of un-Godly "big business" attacking the right of a group to "free speech". Nowhere in the article will you find the fact that this protected "free speech" often consists of no more than point-blank lies by the PTC and their new political allies.
Apparently "thou shalt not lie" isn't among their own "10 Commandments". Unfortunately for them, charges like defamation, libel, and slander are a part of American civil and criminal law.
I know that many of you complain from time that columns like this have nothing to do with wrestling, and would probably rather not being hearing what seems to be a running commentary on the religious right.
The fact of the matter is as we end the year 2000, that for wrestling fans to enjoy the right to watch our favorite shows on Monday or Thursday, we have to exercise the responsibility to insure that we will continue to do so, by lobbying against those who would deny us that right. We cannot enjoy the luxury of "just being fans" any longer.
Let me repeat what I said earlier: These "cultural warriors" believe that they have the right to tell us what you can watch on television, what we can read, and what music you can listen to because they claim moral superiority. They also have large sums or money, and are prepared to do what is necessary to achieve their political aims.
Those of us who are "just fans" must continue to combat that by through involvement in Wrestling Fans Against Censorship, PTC Sucks.org, or through their own individual efforts; including preventive maintenance through contacting advertisers on RAW and Smackdown (and Nitro, Thunder and ECW syndicated television, for that matter), and by showing those same advertisers that we actually purchase their product or service.
We also do that by being aware of those who would deny us our rights as Americans and citizens of the other countries that read this column.
Here is contact information for the two individuals mentioned in this column:
* Reverend Donald Wildmon
American Family Association
107 Parkgate Drive
Tupelo, MS 38803
Phone: (662) 844-5036
Fax: (662) 844-9176
* Reverend D. James Kennedy
Coral Ridge Ministries
5554 North Federal Highway
Ft. Lauderdale, FL 33308-3294
Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church (954) 771-8840/(954)771-8841
Office of the Senior Minister (954) 334-5101
Fax number: (954) 771-3187
For our American readers, let Reverend Wildmon and Reverend Kennedy know what you think of their activities to attempt to prevent you from exercising the American right to free expression.
Ask the Reverend Kennedy why he is continuing to politically cooperate with L. Brent Bozell, a man with proven links to the Unification Church and its organizations.
Ask both of the Reverends why, as self-professed conservatives, they feel that government should step in and regulate the private conduct that is viewing a television program or surfing the Internet.
Tell the Reverends that you will not sit idly by and watch your freedoms be eroded by them.
Let me close with this quote from Margaret Mead to remind you of the need for individual responsibility...and the power of those like us to respond to those who take away our rights to enjoy the entertainment we choose:
"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful citizens can change the world. Indeed, it's the only thing that ever has".
Until next time...
(If you have comments or questions, I can be reached by e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org)