The Which Amendment?

An attorney’s thoughts on life as an attorney.

The Content of TV Shows- Media and Protecting Children

Whether it comes from a particularly graphic episode of a drama or a run of the mill, daily edition of the ever present soap operas, it seems that there is danger in the media; in fact, in 1998 congress passed a law titled the Child Online Protection Act, (COPA) to protect children from among other things, internet predators.Today a Federal Judge in Philadelphia ruled that the law was unconstitutionally broad, and invalidated it

COPA made certain activities, that are protected by the First Amendment, criminal subjecting the violator to potential imposition of a $50,000 fine and/or a prison term. In this time of diminishing freedoms, and the increased presence of our Government in our daily lives, this is a victory. There are other, better ways to protect children from prurient or otherwise inappropriate material on TV and the internet, such as parental controls, and software filters.

However, there is a specific area of concern in the media that is neither against the law nor protected by the First Amendment, yet which in the long run can cause more damage than any crime. That is irresponsibility with serious information in television dramatizations which, unfortunately, some people may accept as the truth.

It has come to this writer’s attention that a certain daytime soap opera, involving a Hospital began running a story line involving the timely topic of HIV infection. In particular one of the characters, a female doctor has been infected with HIV. However, some of what is being depicted by the show at present includes dialogue containing extremely irresponsible statements.

The doctor is described as “on the cocktail” (meaning medications) and therefore she is considered a minimal risk for surgery. The character is also referred to as having “an undetectable viral load,” in a situation where surgeons who performed surgery on her without precautions, in an emergency situation, supposedly did not need to be tested afterwards to determine if they had been infected.

Whether from a lack of information, a misunderstanding of the science, or something else, they have this wrong: yet the authors directors, producers, actors and television networks must acts responsibly when imparting this type of information to the public at large. Unfortunately there are many people who accept any facts they overhear on TV as true, regardless of the source; the same is true of TV dramas. If people are liable to misuse any of this story line as the basis for their knowledge, it must be disseminated properly. Children and teenagers in particular may inadvertently overhear the dialogue and without knowing better, one day act on it.

This is similar to the long battle to educate the public about birth control. The generation that is growing into adulthood today , needs no more problems than it will already have.

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March 25, 2007 - Posted by | Commentary, Law, Sexual Harassment

1 Comment »

  1. Excellent! Thank you for helping to bring attention to this highly crucial matter.

    Comment by Diane | March 25, 2007 | Reply


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