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Ernest Miller Ernest Miller pursues research and writing on cyberlaw, intellectual property, and First Amendment issues. Mr. Miller attended the U.S. Naval Academy before attending Yale Law School, where he was president and co-founder of the Law and Technology Society, and founded the technology law and policy news site LawMeme. He is a fellow of the Information Society Project at Yale Law School. Ernest Miller's blog postings can also be found @

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March 02, 2004

Senator Advocates "Council of Decency"

Posted by Ernest Miller

Senator Zell Miller (no relation, thank goodness) (D - GA) (is that really a "D"?) has introduced a bill to levy heavy but variable fines on those involved with broadcasting indecency on the public airwaves. Read the press release: Miller Introduces Bill to Crack Down on Indecent Broadcasts. Read the bill: S. 2147.

In the colorful language of a Southern caricature stereotype Senator, the bill is described thus (I am not making this up):

This is a tough bill, and it’s meant to be. It is not a little Red Ryder BB Gun like most of the proposals I’ve seen. It is a double barreled 10 gauge shot gun loaded with buckshots [sic] that will hit all of those involved when its trigger is pulled.

The collected fines would pay for the costs of administering the program with the remainder going to "faith based programs selected by the Faith Based Initiative Office of the White House."

In addition to the fines, the Senator's bill would create a nine-member "Council of Decency" made up of 3 ministers, 3 teachers and 3 media representatives. The council is obviously designed to be the arch-nemesis of the "League of Obscenity," which coincidentally is made up of 3 ministers, 3 Senators and 3 media representatives.

James Grimmelmann of LawMeme refers to members of the proposed council as "Decency Nazgul" (Sen. Miller: Raise Fines for TV Indecency, Give the Money to Churches). I think this is unfair to the nine ringwraith servants of the dark lord.

Comments (2) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Freedom of Expression


1. Cypherpunk on March 3, 2004 10:49 PM writes...

That is hilarious.

They missed a point, the Council of Decency should have a priest, a rabbi and a minister. Then they could meet in a bar. The humorous possibilities would almost make up for censoring the airwaves, but of course the jokes would all have to be on cable.

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2. Smartmart on March 4, 2004 03:47 PM writes...

Is this guy for real? As amusing as this release is, it is also a little frightening that a U.S. Senator can feel politically safe in sending out a press release using a dog killing metaphor to propose to judge the decency of programming through some presumably right-leaning council to fine broadcasters and use the proceeds to fund White Houses pet churches (read: kick-back to religious, theocracy craving contributors.)
With men like him in such powerful positions in this country, why worry so much about Osama? I am truly scared for this country.

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