Monday, October 08, 2007

Fifty years later, Howl still can't be heard

Knowfish of WPVM's listserve passes along today's editorial from the N.Y. Times which reflects on the fact that 50 years after its having been declared "not obscene", Ginsberg's "Howl" still can't be broadcast on the public airwaves:

WBAI, long the radio flagship of cocky resistance to government excess, decided last week that it couldn't risk a 50th anniversary broadcast of the late poet's recording of "Howl."

If Ginsberg were still with us, he would undoubtedly pen a mocking line or two about his poem being banned from the airwaves 50 years after it was ruled not to be obscene. Congress, of course, could redress the F.C.C.'s bullying powers if it wanted to. But lately, the Capitol's most energetic broadcast agenda has been conservative members' organizing against any attempt to restore the fairness doctrine to political broadcast, which could crimp the 24/7 rants of right-wing talk radio. The poet would understand, having once noted: "Whoever controls the media, the images, controls the culture."

Indeed. We've thought several times about playing "Howl" and "America," another wonderful Ginsberg poem, on Wordplay, but have passed, since we'd have to bleep or cut them under current rules. Strange but true.

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