Thursday, August 10, 2006

Delta's Strict Standards

On our return trip from Rome recently we flew Delta Airlines and received quite a shock when the third movie of the flight came on. Let me explain by sharing with you the e-mail I sent to Delta Wednesday:


I wish to express my deep disappointment at the judgment shown by Delta in featuring the movie Lucky Number Slevin on a flight (8/7/06) from Rome to JFK. There were numerous young people on board and unless they were asleep they could hardly miss seeing a man and woman having graphic sex on the screens throughout the plane. I don't know whether Delta assigns actual grown-ups to make the selections for their movies rather than employing teenage boys for the job, but if not you should. To show something like this in such a way that entire families are subjected to what is explicit pornography demonstrates a serious lack of judgment on the part of whomever is responsible. I am not one to "cancel my subscription" because I'm displeased with something, but I have to say that if this is what I'm in for when next I fly overseas with my wife and daughter, I'm simply not going to fly on an airline that has so little regard for what they show in the cabin.

Sincerely, Richard L. Cleary

Here's the reply I received today from a Delta representative:

Dear Mr. Cleary,

Thank you for your message via We are grateful for your taking the time to share your concerns with us.

The films shown on Delta reflect those currently produced. We realize many contain material that may be objectionable to individuals for various reasons. Delta maintains strict codes in screening and booking films, and most of the ones we accept have been edited for our use. We show a preview of the movie so passengers have information about the content before choosing to view it. The feedback we receive from our passengers play a direct role in our decisions regarding future programs, and we will continue to exercise as much discretion as possible in this area.

Your selection of Delta is appreciated, and we will always do our best to merit your confidence and support.

Sincerely, Mark Rodgers Online Customer Support Desk

I'm not sure Mr. Rodgers understands the nature of the problem. We did not choose to view the film. The film is shown on screens all through the cabin including a big screen at the front of the coach section. A passenger can block out the sound by not putting on the earphones, but there's no way to block out the visual assault on one's children. If this movie passed muster with Delta's screeners those screeners must have been sub-contracted from the editorial staff of Hustler magazine.

At any rate, if any of you are planning a flight with your family, you may want to bear in mind that Delta's "strict standards" leave plenty of room for some pretty salacious stuff, and when they show it your kids are going to see it whether you "choose" it or not.

Pertinent Questions

The question that I haven't heard anyone ask on any of the wall-to-wall coverage of the Brits' foiling of the plot to explode bombs inside U.S. bound airliners: Did the British authorities use warrantless eavesdropping surveillance measures? Did they track financial transactions of suspected terrorists? If so, then we will eagerly await the howls of outrage from the British left at such gross invasions of their citizens' privacy.

Speaking of the tv coverage of this story: Do you think that the news anchors at the various networks compete with each other to see which of them can ask the greatest number of dumb questions? Just wondering.

Another question: Has anyone heard anybody in the MSM mention the fact that all the men arrested in this plot were Muslims? Have I missed mention of this fact or is it that 21 mass murderers all happened to Muslims just not considered relevant? I wonder if the media would be equally reticent had the suspects all belonged to opus dei.

Absolution For Stone

In case you're interested in seeing the movie, Anthony Sacramone at First Things gives Oliver Stone's World Trade Center two thumbs up and claims that the film about 9/11 absolves Stone of the guilt incurred by the making of the execrable Alexander.

Lopsided Coverage

Bruce Kesler at Democracy Project quotes top NBC correspondent Ike Seamans explaining why we can't trust the media coverage of the Israeli war in Lebanon:

As a veteran journalist who has been in countless war zones around the world (especially the Middle East) as an NBC network correspondent, it pains me to see what passes for accurate coverage in the early stages of a conflict like the one between Israel and Hezbollah.

Because almost none of the American television networks have a vast stable of experienced reporters any longer who understand the region, they employ the old "parachute them in" philosophy, i.e. dispatching perfectly good -- and frequently very young -- journalists, few of whom have any experience in covering this story and don't stand a snowball's chance in Gaza of getting it right initially. They engage in what I call "nerve end journalism." reporting what they think they see in one of the most confusing places on earth, with very little context. Their movements are also very restricted by both sides.

In the case of Beirut and other parts of Lebanon under the control of terrorists, Hezbollah usually runs daily press tours, making sure reporters and photographers see the worse that Israel has inflicted -- killing civilians, etc. -- in order to slate the coverage, but never reveals that Hezbollah uses private homes, mosques, schools, hospitals and other public buildings for their headquarters or to launch their lethal missiles.

Then there's the danger factor if a reporter angers his terrorist tour guides. Christopher Albritton, a freelance contributor for Time magazine, wrote in his blog a couple of weeks ago, "To the south, Hezbollah is launching Katyushas, but I'm loathe to say too much about them. The Party of God has a copy of every journalists' passport and they've already hassled a number of us and threatened one." They also take pictures of all journalists, warning they better follow the ground rules or else. Terrorists in that part of the world have been doing this for years.

"Hezbollah has a very sophisticated and slick media operation in suburban Beirut," says CNN's Nic Robertson, one of the few seasoned TV reporters out there. "They deny journalists access." He adds that the terrorist group, "designated the places that we went to and we certainly didn't have time to go into houses or lift up the rubble to see what is underneath. They realize this is a good way for them to get their message out." So what you see back home is precisely what Hezbollah dictates.

There's a lot more on the lopsided coverage of this conflict at the link.

August 22nd

Matt Drudge cites a Wall Street Journal op-ed by Bernard Lewis, a Princeton scholar who has written several excellent books on Islam. Lewis warns that Iran's president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad may have 'cataclysmic events' in mind for August 22. Drudge says:

In a WSJ op-ed Tuesday, Princeton's Bernard Lewis writes: "There is a radical difference between the Islamic Republic of Iran and other governments with nuclear weapons. This difference is expressed in what can only be described as the apocalyptic worldview of Iran's present rulers."

"In Islam as in Judaism and Christianity, there are certain beliefs concerning the cosmic struggle at the end of time -- Gog and Magog, anti-Christ, Armageddon, and for Shiite Muslims, the long awaited return of the Hidden Imam, ending in the final victory of the forces of good over evil, however these may be defined."

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad "and his followers clearly believe that this time is now, and that the terminal struggle has already begun and is indeed well advanced. It may even have a date, indicated by several references by the Iranian president to giving his final answer to the US about nuclear development by Aug. 22," which this year corresponds "to the 27th day of the month of Rajab of the year 1427. This, by tradition, is the night when many Muslims commemorate the night flight of the prophet Muhammad on the winged horse Buraq, first to 'the farthest mosque,' usually identified with Jerusalem, and then to heaven and back (c.f., Koran XVII.1).

"This might well be deemed an appropriate date for the apocalyptic ending of Israel and, if necessary, of the world. It is far from certain that Mr. Ahmadinejad plans any such cataclysmic events precisely for Aug. 22. But it would be wise to bear the possibility in mind."

We'll see. Lewis obviously thinks Ahmadinejad is a lunatic and he has no difficulty believing that the Iranian president is capable of launching a nuclear holocaust to further his religious dreams. There should be no doubt in anyone's mind that if Ahmadinejad gets his hands on nuclear weapons he'll use them.