Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Victory for Free Speech on Television

From the New York Times:
Court Rebuffs F.C.C. on Fines for Indecency

If President Bush and Vice President Cheney can blurt out vulgar language, then the government cannot punish broadcast television stations for broadcasting the same words in similarly fleeting contexts.

That, in essence, was the decision on Monday, when a federal appeals panel struck down the government policy that allows stations and networks to be fined if they broadcast shows containing obscene language.

Although the case was primarily concerned with what is known as “fleeting expletives,” or blurted obscenities, on television, both network executives and top officials at the Federal Communications Commission said the opinion could gut the ability of the commission to regulate any speech on television or radio.

This is a huge victory against government censorship of our media--censorship which, over the past few years, has extended its reach to the point where it has become a tool of the religious right, and has completely sidestepped the First Amendment. This is a repudiation of the F.C.C. which levied a record $3.6 million fine against CBS for broadcasting an episode of Without a Trace with a group sex scene involving teenagers that featured no nudity or obscene language. And I don't watch Without a Trace, but knowing CSI's proclivity toward moralizing and punishing characters who are free sexually, I kind of doubt Without a Trace was at all condoning that sort of behavior.

So a tip of the hat to the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in New York, and a preemptive wag of the finger to the Supreme Court. (Don't mess this up for me, John Roberts!) Oh, and suck it, Parents Television Council. Start using a V-chip or buying your kids some books. Or, god forbid, actually watching TV with your children, so you can protect them from all that gay sex you seem to fear so much.