Help Thwart Wildmon's Latest Boycott

Call it waxy yahoo buildup.

Giant S.C. Johnson & Son Inc., maker of wax and other consumer products, is the latest target of the Rev. Donald E. Wildmon and his American Family Assn.

In a mailer titled "We Are Outraged!," the holier-than-every-one-who-disagrees-with-him Wildmon is urging his followers (he claims nearly 1 million "supporters") to join in a nationwide economic boycott of Johnson because of its television sponsorship of "sex, violence, profanity and anti-Christian bigotry."

The mailer lists NBC's "Law & Order" and the CBS series "Top Cops," "Hat Squad," Golden Palace" and "Northern Exposure"--that notorious den of lascivious and amoral behavior--as offending shows sponsored by Johnson.

To boycott as a means of peaceful protest is the American way. If you endorse boycotts on behalf of causes you support, then it's hypocritical to condemn them merely because they back causes you oppose.

However, if you have enjoyed watching any of the above programs--or believe in Johnson's right to advertise on them--you might want to let the company know. If so, write: Chairman Samuel C. Johnson, S.C. Johnson & Son Inc., 1525 Howe St., Racine, Wis. 53403.

To borrow a line in Wildmon's mailer: "We say it's time to fight back!"

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Splat!: When Rush Limbaugh weighs in on a topic, it's a real load.

Such was the case during his syndicated half-hour on KCOP-TV Channel 13 last Thursday when Limbaugh complained that the Rodney G. King civil rights case is "being tried on television."

So outraged was Limbaugh at this that he immediately convened his own court.

To buttress his point that TV coverage is biased against the four police officers accused of violating King's civil rights, Limbaugh replayed 14 times a brief portion of George Holliday's videotape of the King beating, a three-second sequence that he noted TV newscasts usually omitted in favor of another one showing King being beaten as he was on the ground.

The sequence aired by Limbaugh shows King rising and moving toward Officer Laurence M. Powell, who responds by swinging mightily and cracking King across the body with his police baton.

In the earlier King beating trial in Simi Valley, prosecutors contended that King was instinctively trying to escape further punishment, not charging Powell or anyone else. Defense attorneys have claimed the opposite, or at the very least that officers were justified in continuing to strike King because they reasonably believed he was a threat.

Which side did Limbaugh believe? You have to ask?

King was "lunging," he said, and "this was causing their (officers') actions." Now, looking directly at the camera, Limbaugh gathered himself for the heavy thought that he was about to deliver to millions of Americans: "I'm convinced if he (King) would have stayed down, nothing would have happened."

Not that Limbaugh was trying the case on TV or anything.

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Artistic License: If television coverage is biased in favor of King in this civil rights trial, that doesn't include all of the courtroom artists that newscasts have been using in lieu of cameras, since the latter are banned from federal judicial proceedings.

There was one exception to TV's relatively benign artist renderings of King's two days of testimony last week. Even as their reporters were giving King good marks as a witness, NBC and KNBC-TV Channel 4 displayed on the screen drawings of King that made him look rather menacing. In effect, this bolstered the contention of defense attorneys that it was a fearsome King whom police officers faced the night they beat him, just as the more numerous soft likenesses of King support the prosecution.

Thus, it's not only courtroom reporters whose objectivity the public should be concerned about. Artists have equal potential for skewing things--an issue that would be moot were cameras allowed inside federal courtrooms.

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Tabloidtainment: Tabloids were the focus of Friday's episode of "The Montel Williams Show" on Channel 13, and about midway through the hour the panel was joined by one of the genre's severest critiques, syndicated radio talk-show host Barry Farber.

Farber mentioned some tabloid headlines he'd seen recently:

* "Conversation With Satan."

* "Nine-Year-Old Marries Giraffe."

* "Woman's Bra Explodes, 11 People Injured."

But when he seemed to equate those stories with a recent Williams episode on a pregnant hermaphrodite (someone having the sexual organs of both genders), the syndicated talk-show host took offense.

"That was a show about a woman's triumph over adversity," Williams argued. He added that his was the first talk program to treat "that kind of topic" with delicacy.

It's just this kind of meaty discourse that makes us all rush to the set at noon to watch "The Montel Williams Show," whose topics last week also included women whose husbands won't help with housework.

Williams defended tabloids. As an example of tabloids sometimes being no more irresponsible than so-called legitimate media, Williams cited recent wide TV coverage of a man shooting to death his ex-wife at a cemetery in a Miami suburb. And he faulted newscasts for initially showing the Rodney G. King beating footage "every day for 14 days in a row."

Farber: "You've made my point. You're forcing the responsible people to compete with you."

He was right. But Williams and his studio audience weren't buying it. Meanwhile, Farber threw out another headline: "Whale Serenades Ship by Singing 'Three Coins in the Fountain.' "

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