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Victory for Decency Crusaders? Not So Fast

The American Family Association has declared victory. Again.

This time the decency crusaders are taking credit for The WB’s decision last month to cut potentially indecent scenes from its new sexy-ed show, The Bedford Diaries.

The AFA has never been shy about trumpeting its successes, however dubious (the Desperate Housewives boycott was just adorable). But its latest campaign surely set a record for speediest results.

Or did it?

Less than a day after the AFA urged supporters to e-mail The WB and threaten to file FCC complaints, the network said that it had edited the premiere episode, citing the recent FCC rulings.

On March 24, the day after the network’s decision was reported in The New York Times, AFA chairman Donald Wildmon gloated in an e-mail to supporters: “There is no question that your personal involvement resulted in The WB’s announcing their decision to edit the most illicit scenes from the show.”

We know things move fast on the Web, but really? A day?

“We do feel like our efforts did have an impact on their decision,” says Randy Sharp, AFA’s amiable director of special projects. Sharp believes the e-mails, combined with the recent FCC rulings, did the trick.

“If you get 25,000 e-mails [27,290, to be exact] from viewers saying, 'I’m going to file an FCC complaint if you broadcast indecency,’” he says, “it doesn’t take but about two minutes to say, 'We’re going to cut some of this stuff out to make sure we’re safe.’”

Perhaps. The WB declined to comment, but series creator Tom Fontana told B&C that the network made the cuts on March 17—five days before the AFA’s call to arms.

But these are mere technicalities, as long as those AFA supporters keep clicking on the link that says, “Show your financial support.”