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April 21, 1989     The Message
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April 21, 1989

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The Message -- for Catholics of Southwestern Indiana Entertainment April 21, 1989 i On the Record By CHARLIE MARTIN NC News Service Columnist How can we bring lasting meaning into our lives? What I Am rm not aware of too many things/I know what I know if you know what I mean/I'm not aware of too many things/l know what I know if you know what I mean/Philosophy is the talk on the cereal box/Religion is a smile on a dog/I'm not aware of too many things/I know what I know if you know what I mean./Do you? REFRAIN: Choke me in the shallow water Before I get too deep What I am is what I am Are you what you are or what What I am is what I am Are you what you are or what? I'm not aware of too many things/I know what I know if you know what I mean/Philosophy is a walk on the slippery rocks/Religion is a light in the fog/What I am is what I am/Are you what you are or what? REPEAT REFRAIN Don't let me get too deep. Written by Withrow-Brickell Sung by Edie Brickell and the New Bohemians Copyright (c) 1988 The David Geffen Company Looking for something different in pop-rock? Try Edie Brickell and the New Bohemians. Their combination of Edie's unusual voice, the syn- thesizer riffs and all-nonsense lyrics made their debut hit "What I Am" zoom up the charts. I'm not sure what this song is about, if it is about anything at all. Yet its different sound and approach apparently appeal to lots of listeners. The song conveys an obviously critical tone, suggesting that little of meaning could be found in life. In spite of this, a funny thing happened after I heard it a couple of times. I found myself thinking more about what is important and how we can bring lasting meaning into our lives. For example, I began to wonder what might happen if people asked what they could become instead of proclaiming with the song that "What I am is what I am." Being alive gives us the chance to create a life full of meaning, challenge and growth. Indeed, we do start with the building blocks of what we are. Some of these include our interests, our talents and most important our dreams about what our lives can be. Life's great adventure is to combine our own resources -- including God's gifts tous -- with those of others to form a life brimming with learn- ing, growth and happiness. Contrary to what the song says, the more we can become aware of ourselves, others and the world around us, the more we can grow and ex- pand our lives. Such awareness is fostered by a willingness to take risks. It takes courage to keep on growing intellectually, emotionally and spiritually. Often the process of our growth brings us face to face with our fears. When we acknowledge what we are afraid of and learn from these apprehen- sions, our fears do not form an inner wall to block us from reaching goals and dreams. However, when we run away from fear we begin to lose control of our direction and destiny. We fail to experience how terrific life can be, how uniquely gifted we are and how much we possess that we could share with our world. It is difficult to take "What I Am" very seriously. Paradoxically, however, it encourages us to ask how we are growing, how well we understaind who we are and what we want to give others. Your comments ae welcome always. Please ad- dress them to: Charlie Martin, R.R. 3, Box I82, Rockport, Ind, 47635 Cop3cJght (c) I989 NC News Service I I II II I I I I I I I IIIIIIIIIII II I II I I I I I II I Stopping pornography in a pluralistic society By RICHARD H. HIRSCH USCC Dept. of Communication NEW YORK {NC) -- Last December, the U.S. Catholic Conference worked for passage of a tough bill against child porn. .The bill grew out of the 1986 report of Attorney General Ed- win Meese's CommisSion on Pornography. The bill's child- porn elements had broad sup- port in the Senate and the House of Representatives. When many constitutional lawyers said the bill contained civil penalties for the sale of obscene materials which could not withstand a constitutional challenge, the USCC helped develop compromise language to win the bill's passage. The experience points out a number of problems people face when trying to stem the spread of porn in the United States. The original bill, which seemed unenforceable, was useless. Several congressmen who would normally avoid voting for any anti-porn law could support it out of political expediency -- what politician wants to appear soft on porn? -- while telling libertarian sup- porters that the bill would go nowhere. People oppose porn for numerous reasons. Many do so out of a moral repugnance for what pornography represents in term of its exploitative, deh'anizing effects, par- ticuldrly on women and childu. Tht repugnance often is bas- ed ona Judeo-Christian value system in which respect for human sexuality is part of respect for the dignity of every human being. It sees sex rooted in what it means to be human. It is based on concepts of love and commitment -- for Catholics, concepts founded ultimately in the image of Christ in union with the church. But not everyone shares these values, as is seen in the fact that in this pluralistic society porn is a multibillion dollar business annually. Those who think porn is a force sapping the nation's morals will seek a legal way to contain pornography. But to successfully do so requires a sophisticated appreciation of the law, particularly as regards First Amendment freedoms. Once a product, such as a video, a film or a magazine, is declared by a court to be obscene- "pornography" is not, strictly speaking, a legal term -- it has no protection under the First Amendment. Such a declaration must be bas- ed on what a local community will tolerate. What may be judg- ed obscene in mid-America, for example, may not be legally prosecutable in Los Angeles or New York. Even in a local com- munity it is not easy to obtain a consensus as to what people in general will tolerate. Until a product is judged by a court of competent jurisdiction to be obscene, no prior restraint is permissible under the law. For all these constraints, however, the porn legislation referred to earlier has given district attorneys an effective legal instrument with which to go after the majorpurveyors of porn. Trafficking in por- nographic materials across state lines, for instance, is now easier to prosecute. Inevitably, this law will be challenged, but there is reason to believe it can withstand scrutiny. A related issue, just as troublesome as porn for many parents, is indecency. The courts repeatedly have held, for example, that in broadcasting, children should be protected from indecent language -- pandering references to ex- cretory functions, the sex act, "street" language dealing with the sex organs, etc. -- which adults have a First Amendment right to receive. However, recently Congress directed the Federal Com- munications Commission to craft regulations to ban inde- cent language from the air- waves 24 hours a day. The FCC complied but was almost im- mediately stopped by court order from implementing the regulation which some con- stitutional lawyers say is not viable. Since indecent language ap- pears at times to be constitu- tionally protected speech, at- tempts to curtail it must con- sider First Amendment rights of all citizens, no matter how of- fensive one or another group may find such language. One group concerned with indecen- cy has something to lose ultimately by a constitutionally suspect restriction on the First Amendment freedoms of other groups in society. However, while legal recourse in this area "nay be uncertain, there are other legitimate ways to take action. Protests to an offending broad- caster or boycotts of the station or the products advertised on it are fair ways to make known a point of view. In such cases, however, it is important to plan a coherent, effective strategy which has the support of a strong and vocal segment of the community. Otherwise, one runs the risk of a loss of credibility for future such actions. We live in a pluralistic socie- ty and our voice is one of many legitimate voices speaking out in an ongoing dialogue shaping a value consensus. That is enriching and a reason for choosing one's battles carefully and deciding, for the purposes of civility, what we can and cannot live with. Once that decision is made, major battles are winnable through effective coalitions of citizens. Hirsch is director of the U.S. Catholic Conference Office for Film and Broadcasting. Moliere at SL Meinrad SmdmtJ I McCarthy and Malt mhe for Moliere's "The Would-Be Gentleman" to be performed at Saint Me'mrad Seminary on Saturday, April 22 p.m. and Sunday, April 23 at 2 p.m. Please patronize Message advertisers! [ Ilem0000/For Ffin0000Pl00ning- iller iller& M i1 424-9274