You might have heard about the refusal of the networks to air a TV ad by the United Church of Christ which tastefully points out that they don’t discriminate against homosexuals (unlike certain other denominations). Overwhelmingly, the major networks called this ad “controversial”. CBS announced, “Because the commercial touches on the exclusion of gay couples and other minority groups by other individuals and organizations, and the fact the Executive Branch has recently proposed a Constitutional amendment to define marriage as a union between a man and a woman, this spot is unacceptable for broadcast on the (CBS and UPN) networks.” An NBC spokesman said, “It violates a long-standing NBC policy, which is that we do not accept commercial advertising that deals with issues of public controversy.”

Do you remember all those Harry and Louise ads that attacked the Clinton healthcare plan? The networks didn’t seem to have any problem taking money to air those ads. This has nothing to with policy and everything to do with alienating viewers. Let’s take one of those “issues of public controversy”–sex. Aren’t all those penis medicine commercials (viewed by children, no less) that advocate an active sex life controversial? After the Super Bowl, plenty of “folks” were shouting about it.

There is one saving grace in all of this. The airwaves are a public trust, and the networks could be forced to air the ad. Once again, the Democrats, in the name of religious freedom, could use this as a great symbolic issue. They could point out that the moral crisis in this country stems from the corporatization of the human experience, and not two grown men behind closed doors.

When will the Democrats get it together?

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