INSIDE THE BELTWAY: Those who point to pop-culture violence hold foul-mouthed politicians to a different standard

The same savants and politicians who were (and are) quick to denounce the movie industry for excessive sex and violence have been justifying Governor George W. Bush's recent use of an obscenity on an open mike.

The same savants and politicians who were (and are) quick to denounce the movie industry for excessive sex and violence have been justifying Governor George W. Bush's recent use of an obscenity on an open mike.

The same savants and politicians who were (and are) quick to denounce the movie industry for excessive sex and violence have been justifying Governor George W. Bush's recent use of an obscenity on an open mike.

The incident occurred as Bush insulted New York Times reporter Adam Clymer, who was so unkind as to have pointed out - at a time when the governor didn't yet have a health insurance proposal - that he didn't yet have a health insurance proposal.

'Just vigorous speech,' 'it shows he's a real American' and even 'helps his campaign with genuine workingmen' were some of the descriptions of Bush's language that would have caused these defenders of the governor to call for Senator Lieberman to resign from the Democratic ticket. (Come to think of it, why didn't some enterprising reporter ask the opinion of Mrs. Richard Cheney, who as head of the National Endowment for the Arts would have cut off the funding for any play that used that word?)

It all calls to mind the changes in entertainment over the past decades, in which the amount of violence depicted in movies and especially on TV has vastly increased in intensity, as well as volume, in the face of irrefutable evidence that some young viewers can be and are influenced to commit violence as a result of watching (particularly) TV violence.

Meanwhile, the use of vulgar and obscene language in movies and TV - now called salty or robust language by defenders - has reached a virtual crescendo. Words and phrases once exclusive to male locker rooms are now regularly heard in movies and increasingly on TV (particularly on networks like Fox).

In the course of what we refer to as popular music, which seems to be music widely heard, enjoyed and - more important - purchased by people between the ages of 10 and 17, the trend is even stronger. Here, award-winning discs are loaded not just with once-forbidden words but with references and incitements to action, particularly violence against women, once thought the exclusive province of pure pornography.

This week's report of the Federal Trade Commission shows clearly that the more violent examples are being hawked and specially advertised to the very children the new rating systems are designed to protect. Its findings will now be used by political leaders and self-proclaimed guardians of our morals to decry the vulgarization of our country, even as they withhold any condemnation of the same tendency beginning to appear in our politics.

Bush might call it 'major-league hypocrisy.'



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