Tale of Censorship, Fraud, Christian
Family Values & Really Lousy Cable Service
Dr. Suzy shows a photo
of former Adelphia CEO John J. Rgias
just after his arrest in "RIGA$
of Those Who are Holier than Thou,
For Often They Are Fleecers of their Own Flocks (and Stocks)...
upon a time, there was a wonderful little local cable TV company called Century
Cable that serviced the liberal, cosmopolitan, Blue
State community of West Los Angeles, California. Its public access station
featured a wide and wacky array of free expressionists, political activists,
wannabe TV stars, crazy kids, eccentric exhibitionists, controversial poets,
videographic artists, never-ready-for primetime players, and horny housewives
(like me). My show, like others, ran for several years, without censorship,
happily broadcasting sex education to the good, famously open-minded people
of Santa Monica, West Hollywood and surrounding neighborhoods who, if they
didn’t like it, could always change the channel.
one day, sometime in the late 1990s, the Charles Keating of Cable TV, John
J. Rigas, known for turning a $300 investment into cable behemoth Adelphia
Communications Corp., swooped down like a hawk on a lamb and snatched up Century,
as well as several other cable stations in Southern California and dozens
more all over America.
he bought, he censored. Not violence, just sex. A man used to getting what
he wanted if he tried hard enough, John Rigas tried mightily to make all of
his newly acquired cable stations over into his image, or at least, the image
he liked to portray, that of a “Family Values” man, a conservative,
God-fearing paragon of Christian virtue. In that effort, he censored or took
off the air Playboy, Spice, and any other shows that included nudity (except
those on HBO and Showtime--money talks, of course), even the programs on Public
Access TV, including mine.
the big deal? Stuff is censored all the time on commercial TV. Since when
does a horny housewife like me have a “right” to produce my own
TV show uncensored by the station? The big deal is that THIS is Public Access.
And yes, I do have a right. And so do you. Public Access is the lowly but
precious alternative to commercial TV in America. It is not the voice of the
community. It is the voices of individuals in the community. Public Access
is the People's Broadcasting System, and the People have different points
of view. According to law, when a company like Adelphia owns a cable station,
they owe it to the community to provide access to the airwaves, so you and
I and our neighbors can express ourselves and air our views through television.
This is part of any cable company’s broadcast license. According to
the US Supreme Court's 1996 decision, Public Access programming must not be
edited or censored by the cable station. That's the LAW.
law never stopped John J. Rigas & Sons from doing whatever they wanted.
This pious, Church-going, Family Values family followed their conscience--not
the law--and it was their conscience that told them to cover up the sex on
my show, as they masturbated their figures in their accounting office.
I didn't actually see them masturbate. I didn't even hear them. They wouldn't
even return my phone calls when I wanted an explanation for their censorship
of my programs.. But I do know one thing: Everybody masturbates. "If
God had intended us not to masturbate, he would have made our arms shorter"
is my favorite George Carlin maxim. Anyway, everyone does it; it's just a
question of how and with what. There's the kind you do with your fingers...and
then there's the kind you do with figures. Financial figures. The books…
am getting ahead of my Adelphia Story. At the time John Rigas and his boys
were covering up various body parts on my show, I didn’t know that they
were also covering up the fact that they used Adelphia balance sheets as their
personal piggy bank.
Dr. Suzy presents "Piggy
John Rigas" in chains on "RIGA$
when I was handed my “censored” slips, calling my show "indecent"
and “obscene,” I knew I had to fight back. Unlike Playboy and
most other content providers, I just couldn’t slink away with my tail
between my legs. Though John Rigas wouldn’t let me show my tail or anybody
else’s on his recently acquired public access stations, he couldn’t
stop me from airing shows that had nothing but white letters on a black screen,
saying stuff like:
IS WHAT CENSORSHIP LOOKS LIKE
TO FASCISM IN AMERICA
J. RIGAS, CEO of ADELPHIA, is ILLEGALLY CENSORING THIS SHOW
BLOCK CURSE IS UPON JOHN J. RIGAS
ADELPHIA STOCK NOW!
last exhortation proved to be what the Wall
Street Journal would later tout as my “prescient financial advice,”
even though I didn’t know that the Rigases were not only covering up
my bottom; they were covering up their own bottom line.
about the Block Curse? I'm no Harry Potter, but I must say that The Curse
has done some pretty serious damage to various enemies of liberty. Though,
in the case of John J. Rigas & Sons, the sheer force of its cursedness
even amazed me, when Adelphia stock (which I told you to dump!) plummeted
into the muck as John J. Rigas & Sons were forced to admit that they were
under investigation by the Securities & Exchange Commission, and then
taken away in handcuffs, because they failed to report that they had used
Adelphia to guarantee as much as $2.7 billion in their own private family-incurred
debts. Yes, $2.7 billion, stolen from their stockholders and, indirectly,
their subscribers. Now that’s obscene.
also Family Values at work. Family Values means family first, and the Rigases
certainly did put family first. The Rigas Family, that is, and screw the community.
Screw the community of stockholders they screwed out of their life savings.
Screw the community of cable subscribers they screwed out of their right to
watch the TV shows of their choice. Screw the community of their fellow Americans
that they and their counterpart CEO-banditos at Enron, WorldCom, Halliburton,
Imclone, etc. screwed out of multiple billions.
the Rigas Boys labeled my shows "indecent." They were big on morality
and small on ethics. Morality--Family Values or Taliban Tradition--really
has no place in business (like religion has no place in government), especially
not in big business, which is supposed to serve lots of different people,
many diverse families, many varied communities. Ethics has a vital place in
business. But not morality, and certainly not moralizing. Fundamentalism is
fundamentally bad for business.
aren’t all fundamentalists. Censors come in many colors, from the Right,
and the Left. But one thing they all have in common is that they try to HIDE
THE TRUTH from YOU. Whether it's flesh or finances, censors don't want you
to see it. Thus, it is not surprising when the biggest moral censors turn
out to be the biggest fiscal frauds. Take Charles Keating, founder of Citizens
for Decency through Law before he turned into the Citizen-Poster Boy for the
American Savings & Loan Disaster. Then there were the Hunt Brothers, those
Texas oil-rich, John Bircher Billionaires who went from being one of the wealthiest,
most right-wing, Born-Again Christian families in America to declaring bankruptcy
and being convicted of conspiring to corner the silver market. Now come the
Rigas Boys, the sanctimonious swindlers. Censorship is one kind of cover-up;
deceptive accounting is another. It's all about covering up figures. In my
case, it was about covering up breasts, butts, vulvas and the occasional penis.
They said they were cleaning up cable TV. Guess that explains the money laundering.
of My Adelphia Story is: Beware of Those Who are Holier than Thou, For Often
They Are Fleecers of their Own Flocks.
story, unlike so many stories, the criminals actually got caught and punished
for their crimes. Last week, after a jury had found John Rigas guilty of bank
fraud, securities fraud and conspiracy, U.S. District Judge Leonard Sand sentenced
him to 15 years in prison (his son Timothy got 20 years). So goes the Fall
of the House of Rigas. A Greek tragedy of hubris, avarice and hypocrisy, with
my show as comic-erotic relief.
of two minds about the ending of this Adelphia Story. Is it happy or sad?
While a part of me is celebrating the final finish to the Fall of the House
of Rigas (and the fact that I’m back on the air—without censorship—on
several Adelphia stations), another part of me is wondering what good it will
do our society to put an 80-year-old, cancer-racked human into prison for
the rest of his life.
chortled along with Jimmy
Breslin, over the internationally broadcast image of the hoary old hypocrite,
having censored my TV shows on bondage, being handcuffed himself. And I gasped,
along with the jury, at the tales of the Rigas Family heists, involving hoodwinking
stockholders and stealing corporate funds to pay for fleets of fancy cars,
private golf courses, plane trips, Manhattan apartments, vacations, Christmas
trees flown from Coudersport to New York, and 100 pairs of the same bedroom
slippers. I despise John J. Rigas for his greed and his sanctimony. But I
wonder what good it will do anybody to put the old fart in jail now.
there is a law against imprisoning anyone over 80 years old. Why? Because
a) it would probably kill them, b) they’re not likely to commit crimes
at that age, c) they’re probably not going to be “reformed”
in prison at that age, d) they’re only going to cost the taxpayers money
with all their physical ailments that would need to be taken care of in prison,
and e) it’s just unseemly (to the Italians) to lock up great grandpapa.
Americans, this is a horrifying, immoral practice. How can you let a guilty
person not go to prison just because he’s old? But then, America doesn’t
mind locking up people for no good reason, helping to create a situation in
which we have more folks in prison than any other country in the world. Our
huge, burgeoning prison system is built on principles of revenge and punishment
(and, increasingly, torture), rather than anything to do with reforming the
prisoner or what’s best for society.
can be emotionally satisfying, but has no tangible social benefits. What
would be best for society would be to strip John Rigas of his wealth,
give his money to the poor, and then make the old hypocrite do “community
service” in a lowly job at one of Adelphia’s public access
stations for the remainder of his days, scheduling shows like mine.
reprinted in Counterpunch
June 26, 2005, Dr. Susan Block.
Dr. Susan Block is a sex educator, host of The
Dr. Susan Block Show and author of The
10 Commandments of Pleasure. Visit her main website at http://www.drsusanblock.com.
Send all comments, love letters, hate mail, questions, confessions and
testimonials to her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Wall Street Journal features Dr. Suzy, having won her censorship battle
with the handcuffed Rigas Boys. To read Sally Beatty's WSJ article,
Prize--Winning Commentator Jimmy Breslin writes about Dr. Suzy's victory
over the Rigas Family Censors. To read Breslin's nationally syndicated column,
"Aroused by th Thrill Of Arrested Censorship," click
Times LA gives Dr. Suzy "The Last Laugh" on Rigas Censors-in-Thief
at Adelphia. To read Michael Gougis' "Last Laugh," click
here. Ha ha, hee heee, we're on laughing gas! This Rigas-in-Cuffs drama
is giving Block Stock quite a bounce...
"America's Best Political Newsletter," publishes some of Dr.
Suzy's writings on Adelphia and other subjects. For "Block Curse Strikes
Again: Adelphia Going Down (Rigas Boys Caught Masturbating their Figures),"
here. For "Rigas in Cuffs," click
on ADELPHIAGATE, click
here. For the adelphiagate transcript, click
here. Beware of those who are holier than thou, for often they are
fleecers of their own flock
Adelphia Links on drsusanblock.com
Censorship & Scandal
Accounting Scandals: Rigas
Boys Caught Masturbating Their Figures
PRIZE FOR CENSORSHIP
HOLLYWOOD: WAKE UP & SMELL THE CENSORSHIP!