Here are today’s dispatches from the crossroads of faith, media and culture.

1. Supreme Court rules against California’s ban on selling violent video games to minors. From The LA Times: These are not easy decisions. They shouldn’t be. Nor, despite the 7-2 vote, does it appear to have been easy for the Supreme Court.
Writing for the majority, Justice Antonin Scalia said, “No doubt a state possesses legitimate power to protect children from harm, but that does not include a free-floating power to restrict the ideas to which children may be exposed.”
In his dissent, Justice Stephen Breyer, one of the court’s more liberal members, argued in favor of California’s restrictions, signed in 2005 but never enforced.
“What sense,” Breyer asked, “does it make to forbid selling to a 13-year-old boy a magazine with an image of a nude woman, while protecting the sale to that 13-year-old of an interactive video game in which he actively, but virtually, binds and gags the woman, then tortures and kills her?”

2. Should the FCC be able to fine TV networks for airing profanity and nudity? From The Wrap: The Supreme Court agreed Monday to hear a case on whether the FCC can issue fines for on-air profanity and nudity. The justices will review a lower court’s conclusion that the Federal Communications Commission’s indecency policy is unconstitutionally vague. It is related to fleeting profanities that aired on two Fox awards shows and from a scene of a woman’s nude backside on ABC’s “NYPD Blue.”
Comment: Personally,  I believe pushing for additional government control of media is the wrong battle. I’d much rather see a push for things like mandated ala carte cable deals. You’ll notice that you don’t have to purchase 200 apps to get the ones you actually want for your mobile device. You don’t have to buy 500 books from Amazon to get the one you want.

Why is television so different? Why are our cable and satellite fees going to support channels we don’t want and may even offend us?  Why aren’t consumers allowed to choose packs of 10 or 20 channels and have our fees divided between the cable operator and the channels we actually want to see?

That simple change would result in more programming that is in tune with traditional America.  It wouldn’t wipe out objectionable programming. There’s an audience for it. But there’d be less of it. And it would have be actively be requested and invited into the home.

Fight for consumer empowerment, not censorship.

BTW, Ironic that NYPD Blue should be at the center of such a case because, aside from its very occasional (and, yes, unnecessary) nudity, the show actually had a very strong moral streak and tended to portray faith in quite a positive light. Here’s a classic case in point:

3. Goodbye, Charlie. From TMZ: “Two and a Half Men” will turn dark for just a minute or two when it premieres in September… because Alan and Jake will learn Charlie Harper bit the dust.
Sources connected with the show tell TMZ … Chuck Lorre‘s plan is to make sure Charlie Sheen can NEVER come back on the show.  Although the first show won’t be filmed until August 5, producers have been kicking around scenarios, which include Charlie driving a car over a cliff.
Comment: Beware, a producer scorned.

4. Hello, Charlie? From Inside TV: Is Charlie Sheen taking another step closer to getting back into primetime? Radar is reporting the actor has made a deal with production company Lionsgate Television to shop a new sitcom to networks and that channels are already bidding for the show. “Networks and cable are bidding on the show right now, with TBS being the front runner,” the story reports: Only problem: There doesn’t appear to be a Lionsgate deal yet (the company has no comment). As for TBS, a spokesperson says, “TBS is not in discussions for a possible project with Charlie Sheen.”

5. Palin movie premiere is SRO. From Hollywood Reporter: Reporters from around the country that have descended upon tiny Pella, Iowa for the premiere of the Sarah Palin documentary The Undefeated on Tuesday night were in for a rude awakening: So scarce are the tickets that there’s no room in the theater for journalists.

6. Clinton takes pride in U.S. role in setting up Lady Gaga’s LGBT rally in Rome. From CNS News: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on Monday that the State Department played an instrumental role in “sealing the deal” for pop-rock star Lady Gaga to perform at a gay pride rally in Rome, Italy.

7. Lady Gaga sued over Japan quake relief bracelets. From Reuters: Pop superstar Lady Gaga has been sued over sales of her wristbands for Japan’s earthquake relief efforts in a class action that claims that not all the proceeds went to victims as she had promised.
Michigan legal network 1800LAWFIRM also alleges that Gaga and other companies involved in the sale and marketing of the $5 white and red “We Pray for Japan” wristbands overcharged buyers on shipping costs and “artificially inflated reports of total donations”.
“While we commend Lady Gaga for her philanthropic efforts, we want to ensure that claims that ‘all proceeds will be donated to Japan’s earthquake’ are in fact true,” said Alyson Oliver, an attorney for 1800LAWFIRM.
“Our intention via this lawsuit is to uncover any improprieties committed by Lady Gaga and appropriate the full donations assumed to the victims in Japan.”

8. Documentary on Gary Sinise’s patriotic Lt. Dan Band to debut online on July 4th. From the official website: Lt. Dan Band: For The Common Good” is the award-winning feature-length documentary that transcends genres and celebrates America’s heroes.  This moving film chronicles the journey of Academy Award nominated actor, Gary Sinise who since 9/11, has vowed to never to forget those who are willing to give all.
By following Gary and his “Lt. Dan Band” around the world for nearly two years, including Kuwait and Iraq, we meet many of our brave men and women in uniform, our heroic first responders, their families, and the wonderful citizens that support them.  In the process, we are inspired ourselves to actively participate in supporting America’s finest, and to also never forget.
With an amazing soundtrack and special appearances by numerous celebrities, including Academy Award winners Jon Voight and Robert Duvall, as well as many others, “Lt. Dan Band: For The Common Good” combines star power, great music and an uplifting message that resonates with a wide audience.
It is that rare film that entertains even as it inspires.

Encourage one another and build each other up – 1 Thessalonians 5:11

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