Programming: Reasonable v. Raunchy

PROGRAMMING In the big playground known as network television, performers have always played patty-cake with the censors. Then somebody went and called someone a sissy, and suddenly every kid had to prove that he could be badder than the other kids. The result is that TV, once as strait-laced as a schoolmarm, is now offering daring new courses in the three Rs: race, religion and risqué.

Employing the when-in-doubt-blurt-it-out thesis, the material has ranged from the reasonable to the downright raunchy. Two segments on the Tonight Show last week are a...