Picks and Pans Review: Free Speech

updated 04/24/1989 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 04/24/1989 AT 01:00 AM EDT

When advertisers began abandoning Geraldo and other uncivilized tabloid TV shows some weeks ago, I was tempted to cheer. But that would have been wrong. Those advertisers may have been exhibiting good taste but, whether they wanted to or not, they were trying to censor. And I hate censorship. It is a dangerous disease that spreads too quickly. It is spreading now. A Michigan mother writes letters to advertisers complaining about Married...with Children, causing some to drop the show. Now more small-minded letter writers are causing more frightened advertisers to abandon yet more shows. This has to stop. I don't want whining prudes telling me what I can't watch; I don't want talented programmers, producers and stars robbed of their voice by frightened advertisers. We TV viewers are smart enough to pick our shows. We can change the channel. We don't need censors to do it for us. In my righteous anger, I was tempted to boycott the boycotters, to stop buying the products they've stopped selling on these shows—but that would only make me part of the mob. Besides, I suspect that advertisers really don't relish being sucked into the middle of this vice; they want to sell products, not program networks. So, instead of joining any puritanical posse, I'll buck the trend and take a positive approach. I'll watch the commercials—though not always what comes between them—on Married, Saturday Night Live, thirtysomething. Nightingales, L.A. Law, MTV when it airs Madonna's video and, yes, maybe even Geraldo. And I'll buy the products advertised there even if it is dog food (and I don't have a dog). I'll support the advertisers who support free expression. That is the American way.

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