March 19, 2004

FCC Revives Notion of the Profane

In a decision released yesterday, the FCC announced a new doctrine of fining "profane" broadcasts. Although 18 USC 1464 has always given the FCC jurisdiction over "obscene, indecent or profane language," the FCC has never based any fine on "profane" language, preferring to rely on indecency rulings. Given the newness of this interpretation of the law and the vagaries of the definition of "profane," this might be the most far reaching of the FCC's recent assaults on freedom of expression. Could the FCC be getting into the business of regulating hate speech?

Caveat: This decision is in a really vague area of First Amendment law and I've written my thoughts within hours of the decision's release, so my analysis is preliminary.

Posted by Ernest at 1:18 PM


Back in October, the FCC ruled that the use of the word "fucking" as an adjective was not indecent (Bono Says 'Fucking' on TV; FCC Says 'OK'). Following Janet Jackson's wardrobe malfunction, the FCC decided to revisit that decision. Unsurprisingly, it was overturned and the use of the word "fucking," as in "this is really, really fucking brilliant," was found to be indecent. Read the press release: FCC Finds That Broadcast of "F-Word" During Golden Globe Awards Was Indecent and Profane [PDF]. Read the decision: In the Matter of: Complaints Against Various Broadcast Licensees Regarding Their Airing of the "Golden Globe Awards" Program [PDF].

The first thing that struck me, however, was not that the use of "fucking" as an adjective was found to be indecent. I understand the FCC thing about indecency. I don't agree, but I understand it. What struck me and what I don't really understand is this whole "profane" thing. Isn't "profane" something like blasphemy or contempt for the sacred? Well, it used to be. Used to be, as in people are seldom prosecuted or fined for it anymore, and the FCC never used it.

Turns out, where most anti-indecency folks would have been happy with overturning the original "fucking" decision, the FCC decided to go one big step further and has decided to basically create a doctrine of the profane. Why they would want to do this I have no idea. Nevertheless, this renewed doctrine seems to have the strong support of every commissioner:

Chairman Michael Powell

For the first time, the Commission has applied the profanity section of the statute for the broadcast of this highly offensive word, an application I fully support.

Commissioner Kathleen Abernathy

Although I support applying the definition of “profane” as discussed in Tallman to this particular incident, this too is a new finding by the Commission. The courts never applied the standard in Tallman to an isolated broadcast of the fword and the FCC has never used this definition in any analysis of “profane” content, let alone the use of expletives. Rather, “profane language” has historically been interpreted in a legal sense to mean blasphemy. Moreover, the Mass Media Bureau in a document entitled “The Public and Broadcasting” stated that “[p]rofanity that does not fall under one of the above two categories [indecency or obscenity] is fully protected by the First Amendment and cannot be regulated.” [footnotes omitted]

Commissioner Michael Copps

I support the decision to find the utterance of the f-word on NBC’s broadcast of the “Golden Globe Awards” to be both indecent and profane. I found ludicrous the Enforcement Bureau’s decision that a word that might otherwise be indecent is not indecent or profane merely because it is used as an adjective or expletive.

Commissioner Kevin Martin

I am pleased that the Commission finally is making clear that the use of the “F-word” during this prime-time broadcast was both indecent and profane, regardless of whether used as an adjective, adverb, or gerund. I am particularly pleased that, at long last, the Commission is enforcing the statutory prohibition against the broadcast of profanity. Better late than never.
Even more troubling is the conclusion that we cannot issue a fine for the use of profanity. The majority argues that there is no notice. How ironic that the majority relies on the Commission’s own failure to enforce its statutory mandate as the basis for NBC not knowing that the F-word is prohibited profanity. Taking a step back, I can’t help but think NBC was “on notice” that the F-word was profane. [footnote omitted]

Commissioner Jonathan Adelstein

The same statute also proscribes broadcast profanity, and I am pleased that we apply a profanity definition endorsed by the courts to give meaning to our statutory directive. While we have historically interpreted “profane” to mean blasphemy, I support our application of the statute to the F-word, a highly offensive and commonly understood “profanity.” [footnote omitted]

Analysis of the Decision

Despite the fact that this is, essentially, a brand new doctrine, the decision gives this new interpretation of the law relatively short shrift, though it has the potential to be incredibly far reaching. Only two of nineteen paragraphs are devoted to expounding the new doctrine of fines for "profane" broadcasts. I'll go through these paragraphs line by line.

13. We also find, as an independent ground, that the use of the phrase at issue here in the context and at the time of day here constitutes “profane” language under 18 U.S.C. § 1464.

Independent ground. Even if the courts throw out our interpretation of law with regard to the "profane", we still have the count of indecency (and vice versa). The context and time is language meant to meet the burdens of FCC v. Pacifica (aka Seven Dirty Words case), which upheld the FCC's ability to regulate indecent broadcasts. As in Pacifica, the Commission is relying on a "nuisance rationale under which context is all-important."

The term “profanity” is commonly defined as “vulgar, irreverent, or coarse language.”34
34 Black’s Law Dictionary 1210 (6th ed. 1990) (citing 18 U.S.C. § 1464). See also American Heritage College Dictionary 1112 (4th ed. 2002) (definition of profane includes “[v]ulgar, coarse.”)

It is odd that they have to cite back to the 6th edition of Black's Law Dictionary. I don't think the 7th edition has the term "profanity" in it. Odd also that they define "profanity" instead of the term actually used in the statute: "profane." According to Black's Law Dictionary (7th ed. 1999):

profane, adj. (Of speech or conduct) irreverent to something held sacred.

I'm not really sure how common their definition of profane is, since the online version of the American Heritage Dictionary has three other definitions ahead of the one the FCC chooses (profane):

1. Marked by contempt or irreverence for what is sacred. 2. Nonreligious in subject matter, form, or use; secular: sacred and profane music. 3. Not admitted into a body of secret knowledge or ritual; uninitiated. 4. Vulgar; coarse.

Sounds like a variation on blasphemy to me.

The Seventh Circuit, in its most recent decision defining “profane” under section 1464, stated that the term is “construable as denoting certain of those personally reviling epithets naturally tending to provoke violent resentment or denoting language so grossly offensive to members of the public who actually hear it as to amount to a nuisance.”35
35 Tallman v. United States, 465 F.2d 282, 286 (7th Cir. 1972). In United States v Simpson, 561 F.2d 53 (7th Cir. 1977), the court called into question the nuisance rationale for the regulation of offensive speech set forth in Tallman, suggesting that it might not survive cases such as Cohen v California, 403 U.S. 15 (1971). Id. at 58 & n.7. But the Supreme Court's Pacifica decision subsequently upheld an indecency finding that "rested entirely on a nuisance rationale." 438 U.S. at 750. See also 12 Am. Jur. 2d Blasphemy and Profanity 9 (citing Tallman standard in connection with section 1464).

This is the crux of the new doctrine. There is a lot going on here, so bear with me.

First, "most recent decision" in this case means 1972. Thirty-two years is a long time without revisiting the doctrine of what constitutes the "profane." Second, we only have the interpretation of a single circuit. Look at some of the other circuit's "most recent definitions" and you'll find things that would definitely not withstand scrutiny today. Third, it isn't clear that the Seventh Circuit's definition is valid today for several reasons.

The first half of the definition doesn't really matter, as it deals with "fighting words," and isn't relevant to this particular case. I doubt the still valid but weakened "fighting words" doctrine is relevant to nearly any broadcast case (though I suppose one might be able to come up with a highly imaginative hypothetical where it was relevant).

The second half of the definition is really what is of interest. My first question in regards to this is, what is the difference between "grossly offensive" and "patently offensive"? There is no distinction in law between the two that I am aware of. Generally, the two terms have been used interchangeably, though "grossly offensive" is rarely used outside the military courts (which use it as part of their definition of indecent). So I will use them interchangeably.

If this is the case, then Pacifica has some interesting relevant quirks. For example, in Pacifica, the Commission had determined that George Carlin's language was "patently offensive." The Pacifica Foundation did not dispute this, they disputed whether or not Carlin's language was not only "patently offensive" but also indecent: "Specifically, Pacifica does not quarrel with the conclusion that this afternoon broadcast was patently offensive."

This is a serious problem for the FCC's (and Seventh Circuit's) definition of profane since, in Pacifica, the broadcast would be admittedly "profane" under the FCC's (and Seventh Circuit's) definition. If the FCC's definition is valid, Pacifica should never have been decided the way it was. Rather than determine whether or not Carlin's Seven Dirty Words were indecent and thus subject to FCC regulation, the Court could have simply declared that Pacifica was subject to FCC regulation under the definition of "profane" and would not have had to go on to analyze whether or not the speech was indecent.

For the FCC, a finding that something is "patently offensive" should terminate any further inquiry as to whether the speech can be regulated. Under the FCC's definition, once you have determined that something is "patently offensive," it is profane and you can regulate it. The FCC will never have to make a further inquiry as to whether that particular speech is indecent.

Interestingly, in Manual Enterprises v. Day, the terms indecency and patent offensiveness were used interchangeably: "These magazines cannot be deemed so offensive on their face as to affront current community standards of decency - a quality that we shall hereafter refer to as 'patent offensiveness' or 'indecency.'" Pacifica, seems to reiterate this definition of indecency:

Prurient appeal is an element of the obscene, but the normal definition of "indecent" merely refers to nonconformance with accepted standards of morality.14
14. Webster defines the term as "a: altogether unbecoming: contrary to what the nature of things or what circumstances would dictate as right or expected or appropriate: hardly suitable: UNSEEMLY . . . b: not conforming to generally accepted standards of morality: . . . ." Webster's Third New International Dictionary (1966).

Consequently, Pacifica may also cause another problem for the FCC's proposed definition for "profane". Pacifica holds that "The words 'obscene, indecent, or profane' are written in the disjunctive, implying that each has a separate meaning." If "patently offensive" is synonymous with "indecent" then it cannot also be synonymous with "profane." The FCC may argue that they define indecency as relating to sexual acts, organs and excretion. However, just because the FCC chooses not to regulate indecency to the extent permitted, does not mean that indecency is not what is "patently offensive." By this logic, "profane" must mean something other than simply "grossly offensive."

Finally, it is not at all clear from Pacifica that the Court would not find the FCC's definition of "profane" vague and/or overbroad. Following the logic of Reno v. ACLU, there are a number of ways in which the court could distinguish Pacifica's permissible regulation of indecency from regulation of the profane, even though they regulate the same broadcasting medium. For example, in Pacifica it was conceded that the language was "patently offensive." I hardly think the same concession would be made in a case challenging this decision. The FCC's own internal fighting over whether profane language could be regulated would also be a factor in distinguishing Pacifica. But let us move on.

We find that the broadcast of the phrase at issue here in the context and at the time of day qualifies as “profane” under the Seventh Circuit nuisance rationale.36
36 Nuisance has been defined as including “a condition of things which is prejudicial to the . . . sense of decency or morals of the citizens at large . . . .” Ballentine’s Law Dictionary (3d ed. 1969).

Once again the FCC claims that the specific context justifies a finding of profane language. However, this once again raises the question of how you distinguish the definition of "profane" from the definition of "indecent." Moveover, this is rather conclusory, with very little argument as to why this particular context makes this language "profane" as well as "indecent."

Use of the “F-Word” in the context at issue here is also clearly the kind of vulgar and coarse language that is commonly understood to fall within the definition of “profanity.”

Yes, but the statute discusses "profane" language, not profanity. They are related terms to be sure, but they are not synonymous - we still need a definition of "profane" that is not identical to "indecent." Furthermore, by emphasizing a definition of "vulgar and coarse" language, the FCC seems to be emphasizing a highly vague and overbroad standard. After all, not all vulgar and coarse language is indecent or "profane." For example, "Check out that hot momma!" is vulgar and coarse, but it is hardly indecent or profane. The American Heritage Dictionary claims that "kick butt" is vulgar slang. Well, maybe, but I hardly think it is profane or indecent in nearly any context. Indeed, "fuck" is always a profanity, but it is not necessarily "profane" to say it, for example as part of a bona fide news cast. So, although "fucking" might be "patently offensive" in this context, we still haven't gotten any closer to an idea about what "profane" means.

14. We recognize that the Commission’s limited case law on profane speech has focused on what is profane in the context of blasphemy,37 but nothing in those cases suggests either that the statutory definition of profane is limited to blasphemy, or that the Commission could not also apply the definition articulated by the Seventh Circuit.38
37 See, e.g., Raycom, Inc, 18 FCC Rcd 4186 (2003) (referring to God as a “sonofabitch” not profane under section 1464) (citing Gagliardo v. United States, 366 F.2d 720, 725 (9th Cir. 1966) (“God damn it” not profane under section 1464) and Warren B. Appleton, 28 FCC 2d 36 (B’cast Bur. 1971) (“damn” not profane under section 1464) (also citing Gagliardo). See also Duncan v. United States, 48 F.2d 128, 134 (9th Cir. 1931) (conviction under section 1464 for using profane language upheld where “the defendant . . . referred to an individual as ‘damned,’ . . . used the expression ‘By God’ irreverently, and . . . announced his intention to call down the curse of God upon certain individuals”).
38 In this regard, the Supreme Court noted in Pacifica that “[t]he words ‘obscene, indecent, or profane’ are written in the disjunctive, implying that each has a separate meaning.” 438 U.S. at 739-40.

Good to see that the Commission isn't necessarily using a definition of blasphemy as the baseline for the profane. Of course, they really don't have much of a choice. I highly doubt the court would countenance such a definition under both freedom of religion and freedom of speech grounds. I've dealt with the Seventh Circuit's pseudo-definition above. However, this does emphasize that the profane has had a lot to do with blasphemy. Consequently, it seems likely to me that shifting the definition away from earlier definitions would require something a little less vague than "grossly offensive."

Broadcasters are on notice that the Commission in the future will not limit its definition of profane speech to only those words and phrases that contain an element of blasphemy or divine imprecation, but, depending on the context, will also consider under the definition of “profanity” the “F-Word” and those words (or variants thereof) that are as highly offensive as the “F-Word,” to the extent such language is broadcast between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m.39
39 See Pacifica, 438 U.S. at 749-750.

Speaking of vagueness, it is interesting that the FCC doesn't rule out using a definition of the profane based on blasphemy. Time to get more concrete about the profane FCC, if you really intend to run with it. Heck, based on this, I think there are many a judge who would throw out the whole "profane" definition if the FCC insisted on holding onto the blasphemy elements.

We will analyze other potentially profane words or phrases on a case-by-case basis.

I'm not really sure how the FCC will really get to this point with a definition of "profane" that isn't distinct from "indecent." But let's pretend that the FCC's definition of profane is distinct from indecent. What, then, is the difference? Well, it would seem to be that indecency "describe[s] or depict[s] sexual or excretory organs or activities." Well, that pretty much covers the seven dirty words. What words would generally be considered patently or grossly offensive, but don't deal with sex and excretion? Hmmm ... well, the only ones I can think of (perhaps my imagination is limited) are racial and sexual epithets. Nigger, Bitch, Kike, Fag, Guido, I could go on, but you get the picture.

"Profane" can't be about blasphemy, that would raise all sorts of freedom of religion issues, but it has to be distinct from "indecent." I think that leaves hate speech. Seems to me the FCC has decided that it wants to regulate the broadcast of hate speech.

I will end this quick analysis with the words of Chairman Powell:

Going forward, as instructed by the Supreme Court, we must use our enforcement tools cautiously. As I have said since becoming a Commissioner, government action in this area can have a potential chilling effect on free speech. We guard against this by ruling when a clear line has been crossed and the government has no choice but to act.

Yeah, right.

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FCC Moves to Regulate Hate Speech?

Excerpt: Over @ Importance Of..., copyfighter Ernest Miller has (yet) another must-read--a lengthy analysis of the FCC decision (PDF) on the Bono/Golden Globes "f-word" incident (see the FCC press release). The news in a nutshell? In the wake of Janet Jackson's...

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Trackback from Copyfight, Mar 19, 2004 4:50 PM
"You're Outsourced" Still Available

Excerpt: Donald Trump is trying to trademark "You're Fired" as of 2/4/04. (I think Fuck may still be available too. Or at least Fuck the FCC.) Courtesy of the Smoking Gun....

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Trackback from bIPlog, Mar 19, 2004 6:03 PM

As you know, I've been concerned about similar restrictions on works compensated by Alternative Comensation Systems -- is there any reason to think we wouldn't see such restrictions there too?

Posted by Scott Matthews on March 19, 2004 08:41 PM | Permalink to Comment

As so many of our forefathers said, the meaning of the first amendment is that people can and should say things that can make all our blood BOIL, and there's jack shit anyone should be able to do about it. I can turn on National Geographic and see 90 black women's breasts. Who cares? Furthermore, the FCC loves to damage the 5th amendment by not offering due process to anyone on what exactly "indecent" is. I think this is completely horrible, and I will summarily vote for everyone ELSE than the people that are currently in office to send a message that says, FUCK censorship. This is America, not the old, dictator-run Iraq.

Posted by sir_flexalot on March 19, 2004 08:46 PM | Permalink to Comment

I think, depending on the system, that could be a major problem. Unless artists self-rate and self-filter, the government may decide to penalize the compensation of artists whose "indecent" or "profane" works are being traded by children on unrestricted P2P networks.

Posted by Ernest Miller on March 19, 2004 08:47 PM | Permalink to Comment

I'm differentiating two things here
- the use of word itself as an adjective or anything else
- saying "f-word" while not using the word.

If anyone on the media (any kind of media: print, visual, audio etc) was to use the word itself, it could just go ignored with lots of people. And they will not actually interpret the word and use it just like any other adjective.

On the other hand, if I was using "f-word" phrase in my sentence becuase I could not use the word iteself, people are forced to think about the word and they are reminded in a very subtle way that person wants to use the word. In that case, you loose the emphasis on the complete sentence and rather concentrate on the word.

Posted by Hitesh Sachan on March 19, 2004 09:04 PM | Permalink to Comment

See articles linked here.. Scary.

Posted by Joe on March 19, 2004 09:11 PM | Permalink to Comment

Here :)

Posted by Joe on March 19, 2004 09:11 PM | Permalink to Comment
FCC Revives the Notion of the Profane

Excerpt: FCC Revives Notion of the Profane read all about it......

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Trackback from unconfused?, Mar 19, 2004 9:14 PM

I'm wondering why seeing someone shot on TV or watching someone pull the trigger of a gun isn't also patently offensive.

Posted by Invalid on March 19, 2004 10:03 PM | Permalink to Comment

Maybe we should just start using substitutions, like fcc=fuck (as in: FCC you! and You got FCC'd!).

Posted by Ivana B Nonymous on March 19, 2004 10:24 PM | Permalink to Comment

This country, and 99.99~% of the people running it are insane.

Thomas Jefferson was right. What this country needs is a good revolution every 15-20 years.

Just to clear out all the idiocy that archaic, moth-eaten agencies like the FCC perpetrate on our rights and freedoms.

Posted by Charles Borner on March 19, 2004 10:49 PM | Permalink to Comment

I agree with sirflexalot. Vote against all who truly oppose freedom of speech and any other freedom that is slowly being eroded all in the name of safety for the children. When are we going to once again rise up against the idiots we keep voting for in Washington.

But, then again who are the real idiots ?

Posted by Protongeek on March 19, 2004 11:33 PM | Permalink to Comment

There is a difference between freedom of speach and trash. If you guys are ready to start wearing armbands with nazi symbols on your sleaves, go ahead vote the current administration out.

Posted by Roger Maner on March 20, 2004 12:10 AM | Permalink to Comment

If *you* want to wear Nazi armbands, it's your right under the First Amendment... fortunately for you, literacy (including the ability to spell words like "speech" and "sleeve") is not a requirement in order to have and exercise your Constitutional freedom. But everybody else is free to exercise their own freedom, as well, which includes the right *not* to wear swastikas if we don't wish to do so, and the right to vote for or against the current administration.

Posted by Dan on March 20, 2004 01:00 AM | Permalink to Comment


38 In this regard, the Supreme Court noted in Pacifica that “[t]he words ‘obscene, indecent, or profane’ are written in the disjunctive, implying that each has a separate meaning.” 438 U.S. at 739-40

I find this a bizarre interpretation. If they were written in the conjunctive, as in "red, white, and blue," _that_ is what would imply each has a separate meaning. The disjunctive, in common speech if not in legal jargon, implies similar or strongly related meaning, as in "vulgar or coarse language."

I understand and agree that lawyers often have to make fine distinctions between words (and I agree that "indecent" and "profane" mean quite different things). However, the word "or" as used in a dictionary definition (as opposed to, perhaps, a legal contract) does not have anything resembling a formal, unambiguous meaning,

Posted by David Matuszek on March 20, 2004 01:31 AM | Permalink to Comment

It's a shame that the government feels the need to tell Americans/me what they should or should not hear. The real agenda here is the religious right, a small minority of fanatics; the problem is THEY VOTE IN LARGE NUMBERS. You, me, the average Joe need to vote this administration out and protect our rights, our children's rights. Only 52% of the population voted during the presidential elections - if this number was even 15% higher Bush would have lost by a landslide - no Florida fiasco which. . .

BTW, if certain kids are listening to inappropriate dialog, then its the parents fault, as they are not supervised according, and therefore, they are probably doing far worse things than listening to a few "bad words". Bush's, his agenda, his policies, all need a good ass kicking right back to Texas. Hopefully true Americans a smart enough (?) to see through his smoke and mirrors.

Posted by John B. on March 20, 2004 01:46 AM | Permalink to Comment

It's a shame that the government feels the need to tell Americans/me what they should or should not hear. The real agenda here is the religious right, a small minority of fanatics; the problem is THEY VOTE IN LARGE NUMBERS. You, me, the average Joe need to vote this administration out and protect our rights, our children's rights. Only 52% of the population voted during the presidential elections - if this number was even 15% higher Bush would have lost by a landslide - no Florida fiasco which. . .

BTW, if certain kids are listening to inappropriate dialog, then its the parents fault, as they are not supervised according, and therefore, they are probably doing far worse things than listening to a few "bad words". Bush, his agenda, his policies, all need a good ass kicking right back to Texas. Hopefully true Americans are smart enough (?) to see through his smoke and mirrors.

Posted by John B. on March 20, 2004 01:48 AM | Permalink to Comment

The frequency bands used by stations are public. They are for our use. To allow any word, phrase, or scene on the air is in fact exclusion of much of the public. We have basic rights, the right to life liberty and the pursuit of happiness, this is very general and vague. However there is one caveat, one rule that governs these principles, you cannot infringe on anyone else's rights. I have the right to drive pretty much where ever I want, but I cannot drive in such a way that will kill someone or damage their property, as this deprives them of their right to life liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Hence we have laws concerning driving, it too is regulated.

Everyone here seems more concerned with his or her own rights, but have no consideration for anyone else. Sure these words will not kill anyone or deprive them of property, but they are violent and vulgur. You can look that up if you want.

This is not some right wing conspiracy, or white house imposition of morals. That is merely your politicizing something that is logical and resonable. And since a vast majority of our population is so completely self absorbed as most of you are, someone has to regulate and enforce these most basic rights.

Posted by jimmy james on March 20, 2004 02:22 AM | Permalink to Comment

"The frequency bands used by stations are public. They are for our use. To allow any word, phrase, or scene on the air is in fact exclusion of much of the public"

I don't follow this. The airwaves are public. That means that we (the public) should have the right to broadcast anything we like (aside from issues of channel conflicts). If anyone doesn't like what someone else is saying, they have the right not to listen, but don't have the right to stop them from saying it.

The FCC has used the issue of airwaves being limited to create a creeping bureaucracy that is tightening its regulation of broadcast speech in ways that have nothing to do with their legitimate mission. I look forward to the lawsuit where someone points out that with modern technology the airwaves are no longer a limited resource, so there's no legal basis for the FCC.

Posted by Laird Popkin on March 20, 2004 02:49 AM | Permalink to Comment

"If *you* want to wear Nazi armbands, it's your right under the First Amendment... fortunately for you, literacy (including the ability to spell words like "speech" and "sleeve") is not a requirement in order to have and exercise your Constitutional freedom. But everybody else is free to exercise their own freedom, as well, which includes the right *not* to wear swastikas if we don't wish to do so, and the right to vote for or against the current administration."

So asside from you not being able to have a poty mouth. You think it is ok for mom, dad , 10 year old Bobby to sit down and whatch the superbowl together expecting a football game and some wholesome half time etnertainment and all of a suden some trashy slut (Janet Jackson) get paid to show off her nasty crusty ball skin looking nipple on public airwaves. There is a place for everything football game => local broadcast, crusty nipple => spank booth.

Posted by Rob Ralston on March 20, 2004 03:39 AM | Permalink to Comment

I don't think it's okay for people to sit down expecting a football game and getting "crusty nipples". However, it's not something that the government needs to be involved in. Pissed about the halftime show? Then don't watch it next year. Same goes for the Howard Stern show. They (and almost everything else that's broadcast) are commercial enterprises. Ultimately, if consumers aren't buying it, it'll stop. But here's the thing: millions of people like trashy Superbowl shows. Millions of people like Howard Stern. Who are you to say they can't enjoy these things if they want? I'm all for letting people know in advance about a show's questionable content to avoid nasty surprises for children, but you can't just stop something entirely because it offends your delicate sensibilities. You want to do something? Organize a boycott of next year's Superbowl. If you put together enough people, they will bow to your demands. Don't just cry for Uncle Sam every time something displeases you. If nobody could broadcast anything that was offensive to someone, almost everything on the air would have to be brought down - no violence, no sex, no religion, no opinions at all. We are blessed with an incredible number of ways to communicate with like-minded people in this society; there's no need to restrict what can be said as long the audience knows what's going on in advance (no tits in the Superbowl, no murder on Sesame Street, etc).

PS - Driving is a privilege, not a right. Freedom of speech is in the Constitution, driving your car is not.

Posted by Matt Parker on March 20, 2004 07:01 AM | Permalink to Comment

As soon as they take away your right to say "fuck," they take away your right to say "fuck the government." Kids have always heard profane and obscene language at school. At least at home the parent can explain why such words are inappropriate.

I believe clamping down on the big network broadcasters will further push profane and obscene language to other channels. We want reality in our media. Aside from Ned Flanders, no one says "gosh darnit" when they slam their finger in a door - They say an obscenity like "fuck." When the pendulum swings the other way the FCC will be berated by profane and obscene ridicule. Americans should not stand for a government agency that itself is not chartered in the constitution, to be taking away our constitutional rights.

Posted by mitch on March 20, 2004 02:06 PM | Permalink to Comment

"PS - Driving is a privilege, not a right. Freedom of speech is in the Constitution, driving your car is not." I think that you missed the point entirely. You have the right to practice any religion you want, if that religion involves killing, maiming, etc... anyone who is not of your religion. Then your rights would be superceding theirs. You have the right to freedom of speech as long as your exercising of that right does not infringe on anyone else's rights.

To allow anything to be said or shown on tv says that your right to say whatever you want supercedes anyone elses rights. Public airwaves are for the public. If people cannot allow their children, or parents to see something, then you are denying those people the fair use of that band. If you are in a resturant you can say whatever you want at your table, and that is fine. But as soon as you start yelling obsceneties, you can be fined and arrested. You are violating other peoples rights. The fact that people are so worried about their own rights leaves little time for them to think about the rights of everyone else.

Personally, I think that every tv should be thrown in the trash. There seem to be those people whose pictures and interviews are on tv, whose actions and words actually influence our world. Then there are the people who simply watch them on tv, and must simply accept the world they are handed.

Posted by jimmy james on March 20, 2004 03:41 PM | Permalink to Comment

It is clear that many people are offended by the FCC's recent actions toward greater media censorship. The conduct of the FCC is regarded by many as an indecent, possibly even profane affront to the principles this country is founded upon, and the approach they are advocating is harmful to our democracy. In light of this, anyone who advocates this despicable, highly offensive policy via the public airwaves is guilty of harming our democracy, and should be fined for indecency (rich sarcasm here, if you didn't notice)

The last thing I want when I'm trying to watch the news is some "agenda malfunction" which results in the spewing of this radical diarrhea about how we need some government agency to arbitrarily define what is offensive in a not quite so hidden attempt to control the political makeup of the media by selective enforcement of "indecency" laws. If anything is truly indecent and offensive, it is the crap being spouted by the ideologues who insult our intelligence by pretending they are trying to protect our morals by shredding the 1st ammendment and foisting some arbitrary enforcement regime upon us in order to dictate who will be allowed to contribute to the public dialog. Do you honestly believe that the FCC would go after Rush Limbaugh or Sean Hannity if someone called up their show or they had a guest who said something offensive or "profane"?

Don't buy this crap folks. You are all too smart to fall for this trick which will cause any media institution who doesn't toe the administrations line to be fined out of existence. Once the FCC gets its way here, all we need are a few shills to get themselves onto programs or call into shows and "accidentally" say something that "offends" someone, and before you know it the only media out there will ones waving flags and showing pictures of our president in military dress. This agenda is a blatant move towards state control of the media, which is a prelude to dictatorship. If you don't think it can happen in this country, think again. State run media is the blindfold- without a free media, you won't even know when it happens.

Posted by mike on March 20, 2004 09:42 PM | Permalink to Comment
The Sacred and The Profane

Excerpt: Profane: indecent, vulgar, crass, inconsiderate, disrespectful, blasphemous. Sacred: respectable, venerable, holy, religious, devotional, sanctified. Profane: Marked by contempt or irreverence for what is sacred. Sacred: concerned with religion or reli...

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Trackback from Napsterization, Mar 21, 2004 12:43 AM
Those Pesky Seven Words

Excerpt: Jack Balkin has a well-reasoned explanation and argument about the FCC's latest jaunt into censorship. What interests me, as well as the possible legal ramifications, is this passage: Second, the...

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Trackback from IMHO, Mar 21, 2004 2:54 PM

No one wants morals imposed. I never approached it from the point of view that someone would be deciding what is and what isn't acceptable. I do not like that, however the major theme through our history is that when you abuse some privilage or right, then you lose it. There really is not way around this, it has always been the way governments work.

You are associating this with freedom of the media. How can they not say the same thing many different ways. Are they so limited by their language that the only way to get across an idea is through vulgar or indecent language.? That would be to my mind stupidity. Orson Wells talks about how our trend is to stupify language, and hence stupify (read limit) ourselves. So much noise, so little substance, what would we miss.? Jokes by Chris Rock and George Carlin, get cable, go onto the internet. Everything is there, why must everyone be forced to listen to it simply because they want to watch a sporting event or television show. Are you somehoe being deprived.?

I do not like anyone deciding what is right or wrong in legal terms, but that has already happened. I wish that no one had to regulate the airwaves, but it is too late. The thing is this is not a moral issue. Right now, millions of people will not be letting their children watch next years superbowl or at least halftime show. That means that corporations like Coke, Pepsi, McDonalds, and Disney will have less of an audience, because of abuse by other vendors or even the event itself. What do you think that they are going to do, yank the chain. These corporations have lost millions due to stunts like this, by other people. they are going to call up their congressmen and tell them what is going to be done about it. It has nothing to do with imposed morals, it is not a right wing attack against all of your freedoms. It is business, and you have already lost.

However, I would urge you to not judge a philosophy by its abuses.!

Posted by jimmy james on March 22, 2004 03:08 PM | Permalink to Comment

Freedum of "Speach" is just that, the freedom to show how some people will never get it no matter what, this kid JJ was the one in the schoolyard who went crying to teachers when someone call him an idiot and an ass. Too bad he does'nt realise that by his reaction to name calling reveals what he really feels. They say if your offended and angry when people call you names, it means that part of you is affraid that (the name-callers) might be right! (about you being an idiot and an ass. Ignorance is Bliss. oh yeah well I'm glad to be free to say Fuck Bliss,Fuck Bush or anybody else who wants to stop us from saying what we wanna say!

Posted by Rich on March 24, 2004 06:46 AM | Permalink to Comment

I have 3 children in Elementary school. And on the bus they hear every vulgar profane word you can imagine. The ten year old across the street calls children on the block assholes and says "fuck you" to her parents. And we live in a small rural community too. BUT we institute values among our children and they would never dare use those words. They won't even repeat them to us when we ask what was said. They have to spell them out.

So I want to know, after the FCC protects us from TV and radio, will they start putting agents on school busses, the playground, and every block in the neighborhood to protect our children there? I can keep my kids from watching TV and radio. I HAVE to send them to school.

P.S. I heard every foul vulgar word 25 years ago when I was in elementary school. Even learned all about the birds and the bees before 5th grade on the buss. I turned out normal. (I think)

Words never hurt anyone, except those that oppose freedom of speech.

Posted by John Doe on March 24, 2004 04:45 PM | Permalink to Comment

At its most basic, this argument is one of morality; the Bush administration (thru the FCC) wants to edit the content of my entertainment so it meets standards of decency; standards based on what? Morals, of course, specifically Christian (religious) morals. Didn’t the Pilgrims leave Europe to avoid having religious mores with which they didn’t agree forced on them? Forcing Christian mores on EVERYONE smacks of state-sponsored religion.

As mentioned by another poster, the morals issue may very well be simply a smokescreen. If the true goal is to get rid of broadcasters that bash Bush (politically), then employing tactics of which Machiavelli would be proud to destroy the Howard Stern Show obviously abridges Free Speech.

The Republican Party built its power base on the twin foundations of small Government and free markets—ideals that require personal responsibility and accountability. I can’t be the only American that sees the hypocrisy in the Bush Administration’s effort to manipulate the market and eliminate choices. Do we want a government that makes choices for us? Doesn't that eliminate our very right to exercise personal responsibility? Consider this, if the Bush administration is successful they will have eliminated not only the Howard Stern Show, but also the individual’s power to hold accountable entertainers whom each individual deems personally offensive BY SIMPLY CHANGING THE CHANNEL! This basic premise of free markets, the ability to “vote with your wallet/pocketbook,” is one of the most powerful personal liberties all Americans enjoy, and one the Bush administration wants to take away.

Posted by Mark on March 24, 2004 04:59 PM | Permalink to Comment

There are too many morons out there comparing free speech to driving when it shows that they have no clue what they are talking about. The First Amendment states that "Congress shall make no law abridging the freedom of speech", which undeniably gives every American BIRTH RIGHTS to free speech.
Driving, on the other hand, is a priveledge and there is nothing in the Constitution that states you have the right to drive. This is why we have speeding limits which are enforced anytime you are stopped and given a ticket by the police. Everybody, if going through the legal means, essentially has to pay to drive through registration, mandatory license plates, insurance, etc. and fines if any of the laws that are set up are broken, including speeding. In essence, you have to pay to drive.
There are also other idiots out there that are comparing "indecent" broadcasting to getting away with murder. This is not true unless you can prove to mean beyond any reasonable doubt that words have ever killed somebody. Of course, everybody would agree with me that murder is against the law and the Constitution does not give you the RIGHT to kill anybody.
What Congress is trying to do now is turn free speech into a priveledge where you have to pay to say what you want. If you want to say something that is funny to some but offensive to others, the FCC will have the power to fine and bankrupt anybody that is broadcasting through the public airwaves. How can this be right? Why should anybody have to pay for something they said? Since when have our legislators been given the right to take our personal freedoms away?
For those of you who want their rights stripped from them, go ahead and vote for Bush. For those of you who want to take a chance on the new guy who probably won't strip your rights from you, vote for Kerry. We don't know what he'll do, but we all know that Bush wants to take your rights from you.

Posted by Jason on March 24, 2004 05:52 PM | Permalink to Comment

I'm a 33 year old American white male. I work a 9 to 5 job, 5 days a week. I'm married with our first child on the way. Every day for the last 20 years I've been an avid listener of the Howard Stern radio program. Before school as a teen and before work as an adult, Howard has been my cup of coffee in the morning (don't drink real coffee)and has been the one constant source of entertainment I've always had through good and bad times. Then one day his voice was silenced. I happen to live in one of the affected (infected?) markets that stopped broadcasting Mr. Stern's show and not being able to CHOOSE what I want to listen to is almost to much to comprehend. George Bush, Michael Powell, the FCC, the Fellowship, all these entities tie hand in hand. Something needs to be done. DRASTIC measures need to be taken. I remember as a child hearing conversations that occurred between my father and some of his right wing liberal friends that our country then was in need of a revolution. It seemed so weird to hear and almost scary to think that some radical group or groups would try to change our everyday existence because of some radical views they shared. Well, boy oh boy, does history repeat itself in weird ways. But who would have ever thought that the goverment, who is supposed to be protecting us, are the one's taking the first steps to ruin our AMERICAN way of life to coincide with their Christian beliefs. God Bless America and please continue voicing your opinions. We may not have long to speak our minds FREELY! Keep your MINDS open. Your eyes and ears are being manipulated to conform to their way of thinking. I'm not a conspiracy theorist, either. I'm a realist.

Posted by cct23 on March 24, 2004 06:16 PM | Permalink to Comment

As I posted on another similar thread, this issue is of great importance to our individual rights in the future...I fully believe in the public's right to listen to whatever they want, coupled with the ability of the free market to decide what formats will be successful on-air or not.

I have been listening to Stern for many many years. I am a huge fan. Do I get uncomfortable at times with what he talks about? Sometimes..I personally don't like the phone crank calls that get played, but hey guess what? Whenever one comes on, I turn off the station and listen to ESPN radio for a little bit...that is my gift from the free speech amendment, the ability to decide what and when I listen to the show. But just because that "offends" me (too strong a word, but I'll go with it) I make a choice and turn it off. I do not go screaming to the station of the FCC to demand that NO ONE can listen...

I agree with an earlier poster that all around me, every day, if I am walking down the street to work, at the mall, out to eat, wherever, I hear discussions about a number of topics, or words that I am positive that the FCC would deem Profane and Offensive..I submit that the FCC does not have a firm grasp on what the country as a whole thinks of the issue, but rather are influenced by a small percentage of influential people. I invite the FCC to attend any of the many college and pro sporting events I go to every year and sit in the regular-guy stands and listen to what comments are made all throughout the game..I am sure that they would have a field day defining what is offensive, profane, obscene...and most of that is from the kids they are trying so hard to protect from hearing the word "vagina" on the radio (or from me, depending on how well my team is playing that day)...FCC, get real, get with the times, but until then stay out of my TV, my radio and my life...

Posted by roger on March 24, 2004 07:03 PM | Permalink to Comment

Recent capricious actions of the FCC, positions on stem cell research, gay marriage, censorship, our role in the Middle East by the Bush Administration, the "Fellowship" connection to Washington Legislators, and cheney's rejection of his daughter's right to marry have scared me into political activism in a way I have not expereinced since the Vietnam War. I will do everything in my power to awaken friends and family to the vulnerability of our constiutional freedoms and to energize them into action to defeat those that support restrictions of personal freedoms.

Posted by Joe on March 24, 2004 07:04 PM | Permalink to Comment

JimmyJames you are way off in your assessment of free speech. Use your head and think about the flip side of your convoluted argument. No one is obligated to listen to anything, and everyone has the ability to change the channel and not listen. To say that I am violating your rights by broadcasting something you don't like on a particular 'band' is like saying McDonalds is violating your right to eat a vegetarian diet. The lesson is: don't eat at McDonalds, idiot! You aren't obligated to eat there if you don't like it; nor are you obligated to listen to anything you don't like. Please explain to me how this works otherwise; please explain how we are obligated to watch TV and listen to radio, and how we are obligated to eat at McDonalds. You can't because we aren't.

Removing the ability to listen and exchange ideas, whatever they are, is the true violation of civil rights; removing choice and the decision making capability of adult Americans compromises the rights of free-willed, free-thinking people. The chance that a child, or you and your sensitive ears, may hear some off-color conversation is an inevitability of life and should be dealt with through parenting, not through legislating away the ability to express these ideas. Why don't we just legislate away religious speech on the radio; I find it offensive. How about political speech? I don't like to hear about republican issues. Get it? Or maybe you like people to tell you how to think or what to say. Just like Nazi Germany--and we all know what happened to them.

The agenda of promoting the censorship of ideas and words and discouraging an informed dialogue through fines is the equivalent of the Nazis burning books. It is the first step in the bondage of thought and expression, and it is as un-American as can be.

Also, there has yet to be any solid determination of how broadcasted free speech violates the rights of others. Hate speech is just fine with the FCC; check it out if you don't believe me. You seem fond of leaning on this idea of speech violating your rights; please point out to all of us which legal precedent lends creedance to you position.

No one is obligated to "accept the world they are handed"...maybe you are, I don't know. Re-examine your own argument. JimmyJames I respect your right to speak on this issue in any manner you wish but you are completely off base and your logic is thoroughly flawed. You are actually the person we need to be protected from.

Posted by Twenty Eyes on March 24, 2004 09:08 PM | Permalink to Comment

Oh yeah, and JimmyJames, I reject you assertion that this is all commerce driven and you can't do anything about it. Why do you care if Pepsi pulls its support. That's a cop out...and saying that every TV should be thrown in the trash is a cop out too. Don't hide behind that "hey it's not my fault" mentality. That's pretty cowardly.

Posted by Twenty Eyes on March 24, 2004 09:22 PM | Permalink to Comment

what everyone is forgetting here is this. I pay for whats on the airwaves. All be it Radio/TV/Satellite whatever. By buying the products that they air commercials for. Those commercials sell me product which in turn buys advertising time which in turn pays all these people salary and I am not offended by anything on the radio ot TV. The FCC needs to saty out of this. Why doesn't my say go as far as those who opose what they hear. Screw community standards nobody has the right to tell me what I can hear or watch in my own home or car. You are all given the right to listen or not to listen.. Remember given the right. The FCC wants to take that right away. ITS YOUR RIGHT. NOBODY TELLS ME WHAT I CAN LISTEN TO.

Posted by Charle Bayless on March 24, 2004 11:34 PM | Permalink to Comment
"You're Outsourced" Still Available

Excerpt: Donald Trump is trying to trademark "You're Fired" as of 2/4/04. (I think Fuck may still be available too. Or at least Fuck the FCC.) Courtesy of the Smoking Gun. Update: doncha just love how the press deals with IP? So ABC is talking about how Trump h...

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Trackback from bIPlog, Mar 25, 2004 12:19 AM

Frankly, to sum it all up, I think you have an FCC chairman who is rife to be used as a "tool"
by those in power. Here's a guy who got ahead,
not by merit, but through nepotism. It's highly
likely that this man will do whatever bidding
he's requested to by those who control his strings
like a marionette. His kind is the last type of
person you'd want in as delicate an area such as
this. His legacy is that he will be forgotten
quickly as most pawns are...and deservedly so.
is in regard to the Bill of Rights.

Posted by Richard George on March 25, 2004 12:29 AM | Permalink to Comment

To me it's simple. We have free speech and that means you MUST allow both sides to have their say. I spent 10 years in the Navy (1976-1986) I'd hate to see the things I was fighting (yeah I know, we had the "Cold War" back then.. :) ) for go away because of some knee-jerk reaction to a TIT. I've signed the petition at and emailed both of my Senators. One replied that she supports it my reply to her was "Well you just lost my vote.. good luck in the private sector come reelection time."

Posted by Jeff on March 25, 2004 03:26 AM | Permalink to Comment

I think this web site is a perfect example. U have the right to post whatever u want and people have the right to read what u wrote or to not read it. I agree there is alot of stuff "on "air" that some may find offensive, so some may turn off there radio or tv. No one forces u too listen that is part of your rights too and the hole point is whe the hell is michael powell to tell me what i can and cant hear. there is a conspiricy just ask michael powell who buy's his house and pays for his kids to go through college. A bunch of church groups. If there is no conspiricy why they spend millions of dollars to become president for a anuall salery of 250 thousand dollars? because people donate money for campains for no reason right?

Posted by mike on March 25, 2004 03:37 AM | Permalink to Comment

The uptight soccer moms of America are ruining this country. These pop tarts with their play dates and Dr. Phil psycho-babble over whos childs accomplishments are greater via some lame ass bumper sticker on thier SUV are the mothers of angelic, virgin, lambs who are free from sin. They have a maternal duty to protect their offspring. Heaven forbid your child see a breast or hear the word fuck. By the time your child is old enough to understand what the word fuck means, he or she is crouched outside your bedroom listening to your wife scream "Fuck me with that fat cock you motherfucker yes yes fuck me fuck me fuck me!!!!" Are you sure you want mommie to kiss the kids good bye with that mouth. Your country is not as great as you think it is, your all biased, look at where you live. Certain limited freedoms granted after tremendous legal scrutiny, and release of liability sign here. Justice, freedom, rights AH HA HA HA HAR HAR HO HO thats rich boy I'll say. Quit trippin off the small shit and pay attention to the big picture--------- It will be a beautiful day when our schools have all the money they need and the Air Force has to hold a bake sale to buy a bomber! WOrds of wisdom, from a bumper sticker!!

Posted by mhks68 on March 25, 2004 05:25 AM | Permalink to Comment

GET BUSH OUT of power.
He is for big business, destruction of the environment, applications of Bush Seniors' unfinished business and enacting the Patriot Act, which really amounts to an ultimate breakdown of our Constitutional Rights.
His actions are contemptuous of the very freedoms this country has stood for and lead me to believe he's taken on the responsibility of deciding what's best for each and every american. He's more like a dictator than a president. VOTE KERRY, LOSE BUSH !!!!!

Posted by Michael A. Cohen on March 25, 2004 06:20 AM | Permalink to Comment

Jimmy James... I think you have missed the point. It's not about regulating the airwaves, it's about our Fredom of Speech being taken away. Our right to be able to say whatever we want, wherever, whenever. If you think that right should be regulated, Dont Live in the USA! Violating other people's rights would consist of forcing them to listen to you. If someone doesn't like a conversation in a resturant they have options... move tables, leave the resturant, or shut the fuck up about it! And if you think every T.V. should be thrown away, get rid of yours and don't associate with people that have them.

Posted by Niccole on March 25, 2004 03:59 PM | Permalink to Comment

well the govt wants to tell me what i can listen to! fuck them i thought we lived in a democracy? its getting pretty sad when the govt is worried aboutme hearing profanities on the PUBLIC airwaves

Posted by vin fonderico on March 26, 2004 01:20 AM | Permalink to Comment

Go 'Cuse!

Posted by rgb on March 26, 2004 02:19 AM | Permalink to Comment

Excerpt: It's the one thing I'm lacking currently. Between a massively and overly complex month of overwork and the pressures of an impending wedding ceremony, clarity is in short supply. The only thing that's clear right now is *why* I'm...

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Trackback from The Caustic Love Brigade (MATT SIDE), Mar 26, 2004 10:43 AM

Don't just scream; engage in the debate. Bush can't defend himself against reason and truth. Call his bluff and send him home.

Ask a Bush supporter:
Is Bush really a great citizen?
Is he a better citizen than you or me?
Is Bush really righteous?
Is Bush really truthful?
Does Bush really know the answers?

Then start pointing out the facts:
Bush's own life decisions should have left him bankrupt, drunk, and divorced. Only privilege and deceit got him where he is, and he won't even admit it. This is the example for our children? This is the way for America?

It's a clear conclusion; we're better than Bush. May the better person win.

Posted by Hobbs on March 26, 2004 11:08 PM | Permalink to Comment

First of all, Bush takes entirely too much credit for dealing with 9/11. Right or wrong, it was the average pissed off citizen that made things happen and made him look like a hero to the weak minded. Second, why do people spend so much time analyzing an officials political party and record when not a minute is spent analyzing their religious doctrine? Especially when they use it to guide their political decisions. If you do a little investigating you will come to the conclusion that not one person in favor of any kind of moral legislation could possibly be a real Christian. Aren't they supposed to be following the teachings of a guy who, among other reasons, died for the separation of church and state? Doesn't it also stand to reason that instead of protecting people from obscenity (etc), the religious right is actually teaching obscenity and how to be obscene because of their own false moral paranoia? Here is a historicaly spooky thought. Compare the Pharisees and their power under the Roman Empire with the religious right and their power under our government. Have a nice day.

Posted by vp on March 28, 2004 01:04 AM | Permalink to Comment

I just realized I'm not done ranting! I'd like to go over point by point about the religious rights' misconceptions about the Constitution and related issues.
1. Any church that can't survive under freedom of speech without legislation or like minded zombies in government isn't a church. It's a political party.
2. The references in the Constitution to Natures God and Creator serve to illustrate that we are born equal and free with inalienable rights (homos and lesbians too) and that no one shall rule because of a claim to Divine Royal Blood as it was in Britain. These are the only intentions.
3. "In God We Trust" is on our money for a very simple reason. It is the private property of the Federal Reserve and they can put anything they want on their money. Even pictures of their kids if no one would mind. Any lawyer that would challenge that phrase would have to by default change our entire monetary system of debt. That isn't going to happen.
4. The only reason the government is involved with marriage at all is for taxation purposes. At least they want you to think there is "reason" behind the tax code. As for gay marriage, I have no idea why guys find other guys attractive. It's a bigger mystery to me why women find guys attractive. It only proves that you have to be gay to be gay. Anybody who says it's a choice must be making one. I can only say with certainty that if two people feel "married", then they are "married".
5. The pledge of allegiance is not part of the Constitution.
6. "In God We Trust", the pledge of allegiance, swearing on the bible in court and the ten commandments on or in courthouses seem to be all in contradiction of not taking Gods name in vain.

Posted by vp on March 28, 2004 02:02 AM | Permalink to Comment

Bush puppet. You will not prevail in killing the 1st amendment. All of you are on your way out. Hail Stern, and you know, your Demo rival. YES!

Posted by brett sandy on March 29, 2004 06:06 AM | Permalink to Comment

For all the Jimmy James out there: you need to learn what being a responsible parent means, that it is the parents' responsiblity to monitor what their kids are watching, listening to, etc. Just as parents make the decisions to raise their kid a Christian, a Jew, an Atheist, a Buddist, etc., it is also their decision AND responsiblity - not a right - but their responsibility to monitor their children and their activities including what they watch on TV and listen to on the radio. You don't like what they're watching on TV? TURN IT OFF! My parents did! YOu don't like what they are reading, tell them they are not allowed to read such a book yet and take it away. You don't like what they are hearing on the radio? TURN IT THE DAMN THING OFF!!! That is what on/off switches are used for, folks! USE those on/off switches and don't go running to the government and asking them to do the dirty work because you are too lazy! Stand up and take responsibiity for your lacking actions!

The government should never have to police what your children and others cannot listen to see, read, etc. That is a parent's job and as an adult, adults are big people and are capable of turning things they find offensive OFF. If you're incapable of raising your children without such disciplines, then DO NOT BREED!

Posted by Cathy on March 30, 2004 11:07 PM | Permalink to Comment

I hope you are not calling ME a Bush Puppet. I think he's one of the creepiest guys on the planet and truly un-American. What I wrote is merely what Bush and his indoctrinated following wish you did'nt know or don't know themselves. As for the first amendment, it's just one of the rights that is ours from birth. They belong to nobody to give or take away. INALIENABLE!!
Let freedom ring

Posted by vp on March 31, 2004 12:36 AM | Permalink to Comment
FCC Commissioners - No Free Speech Please, We're Americans

Excerpt: I wish this were an April Fools joke, like Howard Stern's. Yesterday, the Chairman of the FCC, Michael Powell, and Commissioner Michael Copps addressed (behind closed doors) the National Association of Broadcasters on the subject of broadcast indecency...

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Trackback from The Importance of..., Apr 1, 2004 9:26 PM

Fighting for our rights as citizens and as human beings is what our country was founded on. This is sacred.
Fight the good fight.
Do your duty.
Satisfy my soul.

Posted by jg on April 12, 2004 07:42 PM | Permalink to Comment
Howard Stern: Indecent But Not Profane

Excerpt: Didn't the lawyers in the FCC's Enforcement Bureau get the memo? Didn't they notice that three weeks ago the FCC announced a shiny new policy of enforcing prohibitions on broadcasting the profane? Apparently not, because their most recent decision on...

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Trackback from The Importance of..., Apr 13, 2004 11:21 PM

If we want to stop the attempts by Bush and Ashcroft and the FCC Gestapo to censor the media, all we have to do is one thing:

Start calling for the end to broadcasting of all the commercials and "embedded" content that is aimed at our teens and children, by the tobacco and alcohol industries -- including the CIGAR industry.

If they have to start removing the BEER and Whiskey and Vodka ads from the airways during the "children's hour", such as the BEER commercials during the Superbowl, you betcha they'd backtrack so fast they'd fall over!

If they had to stop allowing CIGAR companies and companies like producers of the Courvasier whiskey (sp), "Pass the Courvasier" song by Rap artist, for ex., and the prominent CIGAR SMOKING by Popular artists who appeal to teens and college underage students, like Britney Spears, Jayzee, Madonna, most rap and hip hop artists, etc. etc., and many country-western artists,

THEN you betcha they'd be running to REVERSE their decision!

So, just point out that the SPONSORS of the Presidential DEBATES this year , major ones, happen to be: Philip Morris and Busch beer, and continue to point out the hypocritical contradictions, and you will also have the BIG TOBACCO and alcohol pushers on your side!!

It's so ridiculous they go after medical marijuana users, which is not even addictive, and burn marijuana fields in USA, when the main drug and violence and crime and disease and etc problem in USA happens to be alcohol, and the most prevalent addiction is tobacco.

But, I AM glad Howard Stern is off air. Just get stupid Jerry Springer off and I'll be happy!

Posted by Linda Poole on April 20, 2004 10:38 PM | Permalink to Comment

apparently the fcc and Colin Powell Jr. don't believe that radios have a channel knob and a power switch. Give me a break people!!! If you don't choose to listen to something , change the channel. frredom of speech guarantees that someone , somewhere , WILL BE OFFENDED. How about if someone decides that God is offensive and bans any mention of anything religious?? DO WE REALLY WANT TO BAN FREE SPEECH? This dopey move by the FCC will probably guarantee that Bush loses the election, which is ok, because maybe our next president will throw out the morons who came up with this idea. 8-10 million Stern fans are already deciding how to vote and now the FCC wants to mess with soaps to piss off housewives. Will BUsh even get one vote?? I hope not. Not just because I am a Stern fan but also because I am in American who believes in the constitution. Also remember that our government officials work FOR the public, not for their own issues. At least thats the way its supposed to work. Please, all the people who oppose this nonsense, remember it at election day and lets send these fools packing. We might have to put them on welfare though, I don't know if they can work an honest job. We, the people, have the power, as long as we vote. The religious right is NOT the majority, just vocal enough to make people believe they are. Lets talk "community standards", when Howard is number 1 in ratings in all markets he is in, doesn't that tell us that he is acceptable to the community, when most of the community is listening. If they didn't want to listen, I'm sure most are smart enough to change the channel even if Colin Powell Jr. isn't. As far as children listening, at what point did parents lose control over bringing up their children?? If the parents don't want thee kids listening, monitor their tv and radio listening and don't let them use a radio or tv alone. It is NOT an electronic babysitter or parent replacement people. You can't plop your kids in front of a tv 8 hours a day and expect them to be normal. And what does Howard say that they don't hear in school. Will Colin Powell Jr. ban schools next??? GIVE ME A BREAK PLEASE.

Posted by Gary Blinckmann on April 21, 2004 04:03 AM | Permalink to Comment
More on Cynicism, the FCC and the Broadcast Flag

Excerpt: Earlier this week, I wrote about my belief that the FCC's true reasons for supporting the broadcast flag are not the purported reasons used to justify that support (The Broadcast Flag is Well-Designed Regulation). As Donna notes below (Plus Dessert),...

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Trackback from Copyfight, May 5, 2004 7:53 PM
Attacking Violence on Television

Excerpt: The cover story for this week's Broadcasting & Cable is about the FCC's coming crackdown on violence in broadcast and possibly cable (Congress and FCC Take Aim): Under orders from leaders of the House Commerce Committee, FCC Chairman Michael Powell...

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Trackback from The Importance of..., Jun 4, 2004 10:05 PM
Where's the Profanity?

Excerpt: The FCC just entered a major consent decree with Clear Channel resolving (by terminating) all existing and ongoing investigations into whether Clear Channel broadcast obscene, profane or indecent language. Basically, Clear Channel now has a clean slate...

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Trackback from The Importance of..., Jun 10, 2004 3:53 AM
Potty mouth Cheney

Excerpt: Washington Post"On Tuesday, Cheney, serving in his role as president of the Senate, appeared in the chamber for a photo...

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Trackback from Joi Ito's Web, Jun 26, 2004 1:17 PM
FCC to Require Broadcasters to Retain Copies of Broadcasts for 60-90 Days

Excerpt: Today, the Federal Censorship Communications Commission (FCC) announced (through a notice of proposed rulemaking) that it will likely be requiring all broadcasters to retain copies of their broadcasts for 60 - 90 days in order to better combat indecent...

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Trackback from The Importance of..., Jul 7, 2004 11:53 PM
FCC: F-Word May Still Be Used, But We Won't Explain When

Excerpt: The excellent Broadcasting and Cable reports on a recent talk by David Solomon, Chief of the FCC's Enforcement Bureau, regarding the FCC's indecency enforcement, natch (F-Word Not Banned, Says FCC). Last March, the FCC notoriously reversed position and...

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Trackback from The Importance of..., Jul 8, 2004 11:45 PM
FCC Chairman Powell on Indecency at Always On

Excerpt: Denise Howell, of Bag and Baggage fame, is at the Always On Conference in Stanford and blogging reports, including a panel chat with FCC Chairman Michael Powell (Chat With Michael Powell). C|Net News also has a report (Powell calls for...

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Trackback from The Importance of..., Jul 15, 2004 3:35 AM

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