THE BLOG

FCC WTF?

05/25/2011 12:05 pm ET

This has got to be the best ... press release ... ever.

Today, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals in New York said the use of the words "fuck" and "shit" by Cher and Nicole Richie was not indecent.

I completely disagree with the Court's ruling and am disappointed for American families. I find it hard to believe that the New York court would tell American families that "shit" and "fuck" are fine to say on broadcast television during the hours when children are most likely to be in the audience.

The court even says the Commission is "divorced from reality." It is the New York court, not the Commission, that is divorced from reality in concluding that the word "fuck" does not invoke a sexual connotation.

[...] If ever there was an appropriate time for Commission action, this was it. If we can't restrict the use of the words "fuck" and "shit" during prime time, Hollywood will be able to say anything they want, whenever they want.

That was FCC Chair Kevin Martin responding to yesterday's ruling that the networks could not be fined for inadvertently airing blurted expletives on live broadcasts.

As my regular readers at HorsesAss.org know, I am a connoisseur of foul language. And there is no better example of how expressive and powerful these words can be than the fact that Martin chose to illustrate his point by using the words "fuck" and "shit" ten times during the brief course of a two-page press release.

Despite Martin's foul-mouthed objections, the court's ruling makes perfect sense, especially to a talk-radio host like me, as it removes the incentive for free speech hating righty callers to try to sneak in a prohibited word in the hope of getting me fined, or even fired. And ironically, even Martin acknowledges the good that could come from this ruling, by pushing Congress towards a more First Amendment friendly, free market solution.

Today's decision by the Court increases the importance of Congress considering content-neutral solutions to give parents more tools and consumers generally more control and choice over programming coming into their homes. By allowing them to choose the channels that come into their homes, Congress could deliver real power to American families.

Permitting parents to have more choice in the channels they receive may prove to be the best solution to content concerns. All of the potential versions of a la carte would avoid government regulation of content while enabling consumers, including parents, to receive only the programming they want and believe to be appropriate for their families. Providing consumers more choice would avoid the First Amendment concerns of content regulation, while providing real options for Americans>

Hmm. Given an a la carte option, I might actually subscribe to cable. For example, I could subscribe to educational programming like the History Channel and Animal Planet, while shielding my daughter from the obscenity that is FOX News.

If an occasional swear word on prime time is what it takes to give viewers more choice, well, that sounds fuckin' good to me.

[David Goldstein blogs on Washington state politics at HorsesAss.org]

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