The PJ Tatler

Prudes to the right of me, prudes to the left: Salt Lake and S.F. both hatin' on NBC's Playboy

The uptight Mormon prudes of Salt Lake City and the amoral radical loons of San Francisco disagree on just about every single issue — at least so we thought. But they’ve just reached a surprising consensus on the unlikeliest of subjects: NBC’s cheesy sexed-up soap opera The Playboy Club, set to premiere on September 19.

The Mormon-owned Utah NBC affiliate KSL has already refused to air the show, saying the station’s mission of family-friendly entertainment “is completely inconsistent with the Playboy brand.” Then just yesterday, the San Francisco municipal government not only joined forces with the Mormons, but took it one step further: S.F. now demands that NBC cancel The Playboy Club entirely, condemning the show as “sexual exploitation of women.”

San Francisco and Salt Lake City each proclaim different rationales for their prudery, but the end result is the same: No boobs on our boob tubes!

But underneath the the surface-level humor of seeing ultra-liberals grudgingly climb into bed with ultra-conservatives, there is a deeper message that should cause some so-called leftists to reassess their political affiliation.

Consider this:

In Utah, a privately-owned company made the individual decision to not air the the show on their own station. You may mock them for their prudishness, but their action is self-contained and applies to them only.

Meanwhile, in San Francisco, the decision was made by one of the San Francisco government’s innumerable publicly financed bureaucratic commissions, in this case “The Commission on the Status of Women,” and they demanded that NBC cancel the show so no one in the entire nation could see it.

And therein lies the difference.

Liberals often accuse conservatives of trying to “push their values” on everyone else. But this instance is a prime example of how in most cases the exact opposite is true. Conservatives in Salt Lake City said, “We don’t want to watch this show,” and so they won’t broadcast it in Salt Lake City. But such a course of action is unthinkable in San Francisco, where the attitude is, “We don’t want to watch this show, so we’ll use the power of government bureaucracy to also prevent everyone else in the country from watching it. Why? Because we know what’s good for you.”

Sex aside, I think this sums up the basic difference between the modern American left and right: Those on the right want to be free to privately make their own decisions for themselves, and also allow everyone else to make their own private decisions too. Liberals, on the other hand, want to impose their decisions on the nation at large.

Liberalism used to imagine itself as the ideology of laissez-faire, while conservatism was seen as intrusive and controlling. Yet the entire polarity has reversed: Now the phrase “Leave me alone and I’ll leave you alone” is increasingly associated with the conservative/Tea Party/libertarian/right side of the spectrum, while “Bureaucratic control of your intimate life and personal decisions” is the liberal/progressive/big-government/left position.

If you’ve spent your life assuming that you were a liberal because you want freedom for yourself and freedom for everyone else, perhaps it’s time to rethink that assumption.

As for The Playboy Club — it looks like yet another unwatchably trashy piece of overhyped network fluff, and I wouldn’t watch it if you paid me. So you might think that I’m in agreement with both the prudes to the right of me and the prudes to the left of me. But I don’t care about the show’s supposed sexiness nor its exploitation of women; rather, to me it looks like just another badly written primetime soap opera but with tighter costumes and bigger busts. Shrug.