Tuesday, July 13, 2010

F the FCC

A federal appeals court on Tuesday struck down a government policy that can lead to broadcasters being fined for allowing even a single curse word on live television, saying it is unconstitutionally vague and threatens speech "at the heart of the First Amendment."

The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan threw out the 2004 Federal Communications Commission policy, which said that profanity referring to sex or excrement is always indecent.

"By prohibiting all `patently offensive' references to sex, sexual organs and excretion without giving adequate guidance as to what `patently offensive' means, the FCC effectively chills speech, because broadcasters have no way of knowing what the FCC will find offensive," the court wrote.

Exactly. A priori censorship based on very subjective guidelines based on the antiquated notion of pre-cable three-network broadcast television with outrageous fines when a network broadcasting live may not have the ability to know what performers will say, unevenly enforced.

That said, it'd be nice if performers like Bono could control their language when on a national stage. That's just manners. Better for society to enforce through common propriety than ex post facto punishment.

It's called personal responsibility -- not nanny state-ism.

To quote our conservative friends.

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