[lg policy] linguistic hygiene: US Court Overturns FCC Language Decency Policy

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at GMAIL.COM
Wed Jul 14 14:31:08 UTC 2010

 Tuesday, July 13, 2010
Court Overturns FCC Language Decency Policy -- [bleep]in' A!

WSJ Online Update:

WSJ UPDATE: Court Again Backs Broadcasters In Indecency Case
(Updates with background, details and context, starting in fourth paragraph.)


WASHINGTON (Dow Jones)--A federal appeals court struck down the
Federal Communications Commissions' indecency policy Tuesday, saying
the agency's efforts to restrict the use of vulgar language on air
were "unconstitutionally vague."

The decision was a major win for Fox Television, NBC Universal and
other broadcasters who have complained that an FCC crackdown on
fleeting obscenities was unfair and violated their First Amendment

On Tuesday, a three-judge panel on the U.S. Second Circuit Court of
Appeals agreed, saying the FCC's indecency policies were
"unconstitutionally vague, creating a chilling effect that goes far
beyond the fleeting expletives at issue here."

The 32-page ruling was laced with many of the words FCC policy said
broadcasters could not allow to be spoken on air. It sets up the
possibility that the Supreme Court could be asked to revisit rulings
that have formed the basis for government curbs on "indecent"
broadcast speech, including a 1978 decision that allowed the FCC to
fine the Pacifica Foundation for broadcasting a monologue on dirty
words by the late comedian George Carlin.

It isn't often I find myself on the same side of a public issue as Fox
Network, but the Bush FCC (and later Obama's FCC) has made it
possible. The notion that networks should be fined hundreds of
thousands of dollars for each fleeting occurrence of arbitrarily
designated indecent language is, and has been since the late, great
George Carlin raised the issue in the Seventies, itself obscene.

GeeDubya Bush's FCC chair Kevin Martin (may he roast in Hell,
preferably before he's dead) used the power inherent in over $150
million in fines to attempt to control the social and political
content of networks he didn't like. No government should ever have
that kind of power over the only broadcast system we've got. And
[bleep] anyone who says otherwise!


[Moderator's note: bleeps provided by me (hs)]
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