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Commentary on Today's News: Self-appointed tv censors urge boycott

By LEON DANIEL, UPI Senior Editor

WASHINGTON -- Remember the Rev. Donald Wildmon, the self-appointed censor who disclosed last year that Mighty Mouse was snorting cocaine on Saturday morning television.

Although the cartoon's animator insisted the super rodent was merely sniffing flowers, he was forced summarily to snip the snort-or-sniff segment.

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That's the kind of naked power wielded by the Tupelo Ayatollah, who practices censorship from his headquarters in the Mississippi hometown of the late Elvis Presley.

The Methodist minister fired another volley in the war on televised sin Monday from a coalition he formed called Christian Leaders for Responsible Television, which operates under the nifty acronym CLeaR-TV out of Wheaton, Ill.

The coalition announced a one-year consumer boycott of two companies it charged were 'among the leading sponsors of sex, violence and profanity during the recent sweeps period of April 27-May 24.

The coalition named the companies it wanted boycotted but did not disclose in its press release which television programs it found offensive.

Advertisers need to stand fast against such intimidation, which can be successful only if it is taken as seriously as Wildmon and his devotees take themselves.

'Unfortunately, the climate of intolerance that Wildmon seeks to create has already taken its toll on the entertainment available to Amercans,' said Arthur Kropp, president of People for the American Way.

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Kropp's group describes itself as a 'constitutional liberties organization active in the battle against censorship.'

Wildmon's past hit lists have included such racy fare as 'Murder She Wrote,' 'Golden Girls' and 'The Wonder Years.'

He has crusaded against the networks for 12 years from the Tupelo offices of his American Family Association, an organization of evangelical Christians which monitors television shows for material Wildmon considers offensive.

Kropp contends that corporations that bowed to Wildmon's demands 'offered him and his complaints legitimacy and credibility.'

Brandon Tartikoff, NBC entertainment president, has called Wildmon's boycott campaign 'the first step toward a police state.'

Wildmon last year attacked Pepsi, which had produced an tv advertisement feturing Madonna, the singing star. At the same time, Madonna released a music video which came under fire for being 'anti-Christian.

Threatening a boycott, Wildmon successfully pressured Pepsi into discontinuing the Madonna TV commercial.

Last April, Wildmon's group attacked 'Lonesome Dove,' the popular miniseries, which it contended contained 32 uses of the word 'hell' and 31 of the word 'damn.' Wildmon's watchdogs also counted 30 uses of the word 'whore.'

'Certainly there are times when television crosses the line of good taste,' Kropp acknowledged, 'but Wildmon can find an anti-family conspiracy in a test pattern.'

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