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Stand-ins no better

Justin Tardiff | Thursday, September 25, 2003

Ah, yes … the powers-that-be at this University strike again! No longer satisfied with dictating the lives of Notre Dame students, the fine administration has taken on a greater mission: controlling the television viewing decisions for all of Michiana. Instead of showing the new sitcom “Coupling,” WNDU will treat its viewers to the recently filmed “Roastin’ the Golden Boy,” featuring former Notre Dame Heisman Trophy winner Paul Hornung. After the “roast,” we’ll be reintroduced to the hilarious reruns of the ABC-cancelled “Spin City.”

Apparently, WNDU feels the need to determine the “boundaries of good taste” and “community standards” for each resident of South Bend and Elkhart. As a fan of the British version of the comedy featured in the United States on BBC America, I will admit the show features an exorbitant number of sex jokes. Yet instead of letting television viewers express their distaste for the show by turning their televisions off for the half hour a week, WNDU feels the need to make the choice for them by not showing “Coupling” at all. The University’s General Counsel claims it’s not censorship. However, according to Black’s Law Dictionary, to “censor” is “to officially inspect and delete material considered offensive.” That’s exactly what has happened here, for WNDU has inspected three episodes of “Coupling,” judged it inappropriate for all local audiences.

Comically, WNDU has replaced the racy, yet entirely fictional, “Coupling” with two programs featuring individuals known for their real-life sexual escapades. Notre Dame’s own Paul Hornung was well known throughout his NFL career for his hard-drinking and womanizing ways. Just last year, Sports Illustrated ran a feature article on Hornung in which former teammates noted his ability to bring a different woman back to his hotel each night on the road. Fortunately, after the end of what I can only assume was a hilarious roast, Michiana residents can tune in to watch Charlie Sheen’s “Spin City” character lust after Heather Locklear. Just don’t read old news clips on Sheen, because you might discover he was a frequent client of notorious Hollywood Madam Heidi Fleiss’s “dating service.” I won’t even touch Sheen’s drug habits or Hornung’s one-year suspension from football for gambling in this column. I will thank WNDU for deciding that “Coupling” is inappropriate for our community standards and replacing it with such great role models as Hornung and Sheen.

The University’s General Counsel supports claims that the WNDU decision to black out “Coupling” is not censorship because “there are lots of ways to see it.” However, just because I can drive to Chicago or have someone back home tape each episode and mail it to me does not change the nature of the Board of Directors’ decision. Of course, if I can uncover an economical way to catch every NBC program without tuning into the censorship-crazy WNDU, I’ll do it. Then I can finally catch “Coupling” at its regular time, and I won’t have to watch that creepy brother-sister news team.