It’s never been ‘anything goes’
October 20, 2007
As a past president, and a former board of directors member for many years of our local and wonderful GrassRoots TV, I would like to bring some historical perspective to the question of what is and what is not appropriate to be shown on GrassRoots TV. We defined GrassRoots TV as a community service, not as an “anything goes, public access” station. We reserved the right to decide what was appropriate for broadcast, based upon the purposely vague guideline of “community standards.” We did not charge for content that was aired on GrassRoots TV, but we did ask that there be a local connection in the production of that content, or that the content to be shown had local relevance.
My memory may be defective, but the only semi-contentious matter that comes to mind from those years was when a presenter used some curse words on his live program. A few older members of the community objected to the curse words. We had no hard and fast rules, so we told the presenter about the comments that we had received. Without our taking a position on the matter, of his own volition and out of consideration for the sensibilities of some members of the community, after that, he simply refrained from using curse words.
The present controversy is, of course, another matter. I doubt whether we would have aired the program in question, not, in the first instance, on historical or political grounds, but for reasons of local relevance. However, even if it had been locally produced, we would not have aired it for factual, historical reasons. The fact of the Holocaust is not a question of “consensus views.” The Holocaust is, unfortunately, an irrefutable, established historical fact. One may have whatever views of the fact of the Holocaust that one wishes, but one has no right to deny the fact. If a projected program, denying established historical fact, was, as well, going to needlessly offend a part of our local community, we would not have shown it.
Had a local producer made a film denying the historical fact of slavery in our country, we would not have shown it, regardless of its local creation. We would not have shown it because of its denial of irrefutable historical fact, coupled with the offense it would give to some members of our community. This matter has nothing whatsoever to do with “free speech.”
Richard A. Sherman
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