Censoring Private Ryan

"As American soldiers were dying in Falluja, some Americans back home spent Veteran's Day mocking the very ideal our armed forces are fighting for freedom," writes Frank Rich. "Ludicrous as it sounds, 66 ABC affiliates revolted against their own network and refused to broadcast 'Saving Private Ryan.' The reason: fear. Not fear of terrorism or fear of low ratings but fear that their own government would punish them for exercising freedom of speech." The celebration of World War II heroism was yanked to placate the American Family Association, which feared the corrupting influence of the F-word and the film's graphic depictions of the violence of war. "For anyone who doubts that we are entering a new era, let's flash back just a few years," Rich writes. "'Saving Private Ryan,' with its 'CSI'-style disembowelments and expletives undeleted, was nationally broadcast by ABC on Veteran's Day in both 2001 and 2002 without incident, and despite the protests of family-values groups. What has changed between then and now? A government with the zeal to control both information and culture has received what it calls a mandate. ... If these media outlets are afraid to show a graphic Hollywood treatment of a 60-year-old war starring the beloved Tom Hanks because the feds might fine them, toy with their licenses or deny them permission to expand their empires, might they defensively soften their news divisions' efforts to present the graphic truth of an ongoing war?"