Naked City

Speak your piece on the web

A former Austinite and now California-based friend of Naked City reports the founding of a new anti-censorship Web site intended "to help people be politically active in a 21st-century sort of way." In the wake of the postelection "moral values" hysteria as well as continuing assaults on freedom of expression (notably at the Federal Communications Commission), the SpeakSpeak.org site hopes to use "the tools that we have right now" to provide an outlet for contemporary activism, initially on First Amendment issues. "The tool we have right now is the Web."

"We live in a 'representative democracy,'" notes the site founder, Amanda Toering, "but most of us act like the height of representation is November voting. There's much more we could do. The radical right has been astonishingly effective in writing governmental agencies, lobbying their reps, etc. Progressives haven't made as big of a dent."

The site is operational and collecting e-mail contacts, but Toering plans to expand its scope in the new year. The initial postings note the growing influence of the right-wing Parents Television Council on the FCC, amid news reports that 99% of the broadcast "indecency" complaints received by the FCC in the past year have in fact been generated by PTC campaigns. Accordingly, SpeakSpeak "will have a module that generates letters to public reps. Initially, we will concentrate on writing the FCC when the Parents Television Council activates their membership about a ho-hum indecency. However, whereas the PTC's site allows members to send – or, if they're ambitious, personally edit – a boilerplate complaint letter, ours will be more customized to the user. Sort of like Mad Libs, actually."

In time, after the site gets going, the hope is to expand on other issues of interest to members. The site currently features a "PTC Quote of the Week," reflecting the PTC's über-earnest outrage at the recent ABC Monday Night Football locker-room sketch featuring Philadelphia Eagle Terrell Owens and a seminude Nicollette Sheridan: "The second offense is the social message this adult skit sends to satire-impaired youngsters. If the desperate-slut wagon ever pulls into town, then your job and your workmates can irresponsibly be tossed aside for your own personal fulfillment. It's a message boys all too often get from their role models: become a star, score some big sex, and life is good." And who's "satire-impaired"? For more info, visit www.speakspeak.org.

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