These are difficult days for the decency police. The Parents Television Council spent most of the last decade as a conservative superstar in the culture wars. By pressuring the Federal Communications Commission to crack down on racy programming, the council was responsible for record-setting fines against media giants like CBS and the News Corporation.
But the organization now finds itself damaged, defanged by court challenges to the F.C.C.'s hard-line position, by its own dwindling finances and by internal troubles that resulted in its accusing a former senior employee of extortion. Meanwhile, the entertainment industry -- once so afraid of the council's wrath that Fox blurred the naked behind of an animated character -- is pushing the boundaries of taste with renewed intensity.