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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, 2005

The Future of Broadcast Censorship?

Posted by Ernest Miller

Apparently, some editions of the movie Sideways that are edited for play on airlines (similar to the editing done in order to meet FCC censorship requirements for broadcast) have replaced the vulgar slang "asshole" with "Ashcroft" according to the Washington Post last week (Name-Calling in Its Purest Form):

You're an Ashcroft! No, you're the Ashcroft!

Imagine hearing that exchange in a movie -- you'd think that Hollywood had come up with a crazy new insult. Well, it turns out that some airline passengers watching the Oscar-nominated film "Sideways" on foreign flights are, in fact, hearing "Ashcroft" as a substitute for a certain seven-letter epithet commonly used to denote a human orifice.

Perhaps this is a compromise solution to the FCC's censorship worries. FCC regulations could require that profane and indecent language be replaced with variations of the commissioners' names. For example:

Okay, so this is cheap and juvenile humor, but the law and the commissioners are also cheap and juvenile.

Comments (1) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Freedom of Expression


1. Hunter McDaniel on March 7, 2005 07:43 PM writes...

I saw Sideways on an airplane several weeks ago, before the WaPo article you refer to was published. At the time, I just assumed it was just another gratuitous Hollywood cheap-shot against Republicans.

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