Jeff Jarvis may well be right about political conventions these days being nothing more than contemptible “staged events to get media coverage” and therefore not worthy of reporting on, but they’re tailor made for the quirky news stylings of CNN’s veteran correspondent Jeanne Moos, whose “beat” is the offbeat, so to speak.
In today’s “Moost Unusual” bit, she zeroed in on a giant pizza cut into a wheat field near the Denver airport for Papa John’s that delegates (and the 15,000 reporters as well, presumably) to the Democratic National Convention will see as their aircraft are landing. To pad out the piece, Moos did a quick review of other giant “crop circle” advertisements as well as assorted giant figures cut into farm fields across the country and around the world.
Which brings us to the so-called “Rude Giant” (also known as the Cerne Abbas giant or, more simply, the “rude man”), a chalk figure carved into a hillside in Dorset, England that dates back to the late 17th century, although its precise origins are unknown. Some historians have speculated that it may have been a parody of Oliver Cromwell, the regicidal English dictator. Cromwell was, of course, a fanatical Puritan and if he was aware of the Cerne Abbas, doubtless would have found its giant phallus highly offensive.
The puritan spirit lives on at CNN apparently. For whatever reason, the network felt obliged to censor the Rude Giant’s “naughty bits” by pixelating them when they appeared in the Moos piece. The reason was probably less to prevent their viewers’ delicate eyes from being offended, than to avoid bothersome complaints about broadcasting something “obscene or indecent” in violation of the FCC regulations, but in either case, it seemed quite strange for a “news” network in the 21st century to apply that standard of prudery to a four hundred year chalk carving. For a country that treasures “free speech” and holds up the first amendment right as being almost sacrosanct, the daft constraints imposed by the archaic FCC regulations on broadcasters utilizing the public airwaves seem like a terrible contradiction to the right of free speech in this day and age.