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Supreme Court To Rule On TV Censorship

timothy posted more than 5 years ago | from the bunch-of-thespians dept.

The Courts 426

Khashishi writes "The LA times and the Associated Press report that the FCC v. Fox Television Stations case is being heard in the Supreme Court. The FCC policy would impose a heavy fine on use of 'indecent' words on broadcast television, which Fox and others are claiming is a violation of free speech. The case was appealed after being ruled in Fox's favor in a federal appeals court in New York. Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Justice Antonin Scalia support the FCC policy of censorship." Here's a transcript (PDF) of the oral arguments.

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426 comments

Conservative moralists vs. Fox?!? (4, Funny)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 5 years ago | (#25647293)

Just what kind of topsy-turvy world is this new Obama era producing?!?!

Re:Conservative moralists vs. Fox?!? (5, Insightful)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | more than 5 years ago | (#25647607)

You're forgetting that Fox made famous The Simpsons, Family Guy, Married...with Children, and many other shows which wouldn't have been given chances on other networks.

Incidentally most consumers of Fox News are too narrow-minded to realize this...or maybe being bad is okay only when it applies to them!

Re:Conservative moralists vs. Fox?!? (3, Funny)

kachakaach (1336273) | more than 5 years ago | (#25647951)

You're forgetting that Fox made famous The Simpsons, Family Guy, Married...with Children, and many other shows which wouldn't have been given chances on other networks.

Those shows aren't really bad, they're just drawn that way.

Or... (5, Informative)

crmarvin42 (652893) | more than 5 years ago | (#25647965)

1. The entertainment and news divisions are run an operated separately, as they should be.

or

2. People that believe in social and/or financial conservativism (like me) can also appreciate off color humor (I own every season of Family Guy that's available on DVD).

or

3. Fox news and Fox entertainment division cater to different markets that they thought were being under served by their competitors

or

4. Some combination of the above 3.

Re:Conservative moralists vs. Fox?!? (5, Interesting)

Captain Spam (66120) | more than 5 years ago | (#25648131)

I think Lewis Black put it best on one of his Back In Black segments on The Daily Show. People tune in to Fox (News) to seethe in outrage over what they saw on Fox (broadcast) the night before. It's a self-perpetuating business!

Re:Conservative moralists vs. Fox?!? (4, Insightful)

Kamokazi (1080091) | more than 5 years ago | (#25648215)

Many conservatives don't like Fox any more than the rest of the liberal media. They consider them a shil for the 'neo-Republicans' like Bush and pals, and are no better than CNN, MSNBC, etc.

Awww, So Much Headline Potential Wasted (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25647335)

I liked my submission's headline [slashdot.org] more. :(

2 Elephants in the Room (5, Insightful)

TheCarp (96830) | more than 5 years ago | (#25647353)

Ginsberg said that there is an elephant in the room: The First Ammendment.

As I read it, I see another one:

The solicitor general was unswayed. When "celebrities use particularly graphic, vulgar, explicit, indecent language as part of the comedic routine," he said, there is "potentially greater harmful impact on children."

Potential Harmful impact? Ok... PROVE HARM.

Thats all, prove harm. Even prove potential for harm. Whats the scope of this supposed "harm"? How does this "harm" happen? How do we even know its real?

-Steve

Re:2 Elephants in the Room (2, Insightful)

MindlessAutomata (1282944) | more than 5 years ago | (#25647399)

He doesn't believe in his own bullshit. He's just trying to win court battles to further his own career.

Re:2 Elephants in the Room (3, Insightful)

computational super (740265) | more than 5 years ago | (#25647615)

Ok... PROVE HARM.

Not that I agree with them - but they'll point to a recent study that "links" teen pregnancy with sex on TV shows.

Re:2 Elephants in the Room (5, Interesting)

TheCarp (96830) | more than 5 years ago | (#25647757)

I hope they would... it would be utterly tangential in a case about the banning of specific words in any context they might be used in.

Prove that the word "fuck", in all contexts, can actually cause harm to a person. Prove that for each of the words in question.

Prove harm, show the scope of harm. Isn't it up to those claiming harm to prove harm? So prove it, how can it be so much to ask to just prove that your not making stuff up and talking out your ass?

I mean, my mother believed that sitting too close to the TV was bad for kids eyes. Any eye doctor will tell you that its an old wives tale and kids sit so close really cuz their eyes are perfectly capable of focusing comfortably at that distance.

So... I would argue my mothers old wives tale belief doesn't prove harm, even in absence eye doctors professional opinions. Why? because its not based on data, its based on conjecture.

These arguments used by the FCCs supporters sound no more concrete to me.

Urban legends have no place in public policy.

-Steve

Re:2 Elephants in the Room (2, Insightful)

lilomar (1072448) | more than 5 years ago | (#25647801)

But the issue isn't sex in this instance. It's "offensive language" particularly, the use of the words "fuck" and "shit".

So... PROVE HARM.

Re:2 Elephants in the Room (2, Insightful)

DrLang21 (900992) | more than 5 years ago | (#25647977)

It's not so much that it isn't about sex. The arguments in the pdf continually pointed out that FUCK is a vulgar explicit word for sexual intercourse. So in this case about the word FUCK, sex is an issue. What I want to know is, why is a vulgar expression considered harmful over a non-vulgar expression.

Re:2 Elephants in the Room (3, Insightful)

sjames (1099) | more than 5 years ago | (#25648263)

Only if you can demonstrate that the kids alleged to be harmed actually know what fuck means. If it's just "a word you can't say in church", then there's no significant connection with sex.

In general usage, it's definition seems to be "a generic expletive stronger than damn but not as funny as mongolian cluster fuck". A person who actually means to logically connect slamming their finger in the door with a sex act has deeper problems.

Re:2 Elephants in the Room (1)

compro01 (777531) | more than 5 years ago | (#25648021)

How about a study that adjusts for the effect of abstinence-only sex "education"?

Re:2 Elephants in the Room (2, Interesting)

plague3106 (71849) | more than 5 years ago | (#25648305)

People that enjoy sex like sexual content? Color me not suprised.

FWIW, pretty much my entire class grew up watching porn, stuff we found in our parents room. If TV "caused" teen pregnancy, you'd expect most (well, almost half) of my class to have been knocked up.. yet it wasn't. I strongly suspect this is the norm in many places... and teen pregnancy has been dropping steadly until recently. Oh.. and recently they also started to focus more on abstence than birth control. Hmm... I wonder...

Re:2 Elephants in the Room (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25647997)

Prove Harm... hmmmm...

If I as a parent do not want my children exposed to that kind of language and they are then they have been harmed. You see thats why I am the parent so that I can direct my child in the way that I see fit. And to me that would be harmful.

When did vulgar profane speech become harmless and the Bible become harmful?

I belive that mom and dad should be allowed to determine what may or may not be harmful to their children. I deem it harmful. No proof necessary.

Re:2 Elephants in the Room (5, Insightful)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | more than 5 years ago | (#25648091)

When did vulgar profane speech become harmless and the Bible become harmful?

Let's compare body counts, shall we? We can skip everything before the Crusades if you'd like a handicap on this hole.

I belive that mom and dad should be allowed to determine what may or may not be harmful to their children. I deem it harmful. No proof necessary.

I fully back you on this. Now, control your children.

Re:2 Elephants in the Room (1)

DrLang21 (900992) | more than 5 years ago | (#25648297)

No one is denying your authority to determine what you will and will not allow your children to be exposed to. Many parents who do not like the idea of their children seeing what is on TV have a very simple solution; ditch the TV. You can't forever stop your kids from seeing the many things that are freely out there, you can only attempt to control the conditions under which they are exposed.

Re:2 Elephants in the Room (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25648145)

Ok, here's the steps to prove harm.
First, establish that over exposure to the foul language would increase the usage of that language in the children.
Second, increase usage leads to habitual usage.
Third, habitual usage leads to accidental usage later in life when in a situation where that usage puts one at a disadvantage. At a lot of office jobs, dropping the "F word" frequently could lead to getting fired. Also, a teen / young adult with a foul mouth gets less respect from adults, which can lead to disadvantages in life.
Of course, each of these would have to be proven.

Food for thought.

Re:2 Elephants in the Room (0)

Doctor_Jest (688315) | more than 5 years ago | (#25648189)

Are there to Ruth Ginsbergs? Because she's obviously correct about the First amendment, yet she can't understand the basics of the 2nd Amendment.... Tell her to read a little further down the amendments so she can get a feel for all of them. :)

Since the government is imposing the fines I agree it is censorship, and the fines have a chilling effect on free speech. There's not any alternative besides cable television, so the "if you don't like it, start your own" won't work. (I think cable TV should take from this case the "opening of the floodgates" to air unedited and uncensored content like it was going out of style.)

I'd much rather be able to watch an unedited movie on broadcast basic cable (even networks if they so chose), rather than the pablum they force with the "naughty" words substituted with stupid soundalikes and nonsensical gibberish. Why is the on/off (or the V chip) not the solution to "think of the children!" Rather, I would sincerely wish people think FOR THEMSELVES.... :)

Re:2 Elephants in the Room (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25648233)

OK so here is how I've observed the harm. I have children. Profanity and vulgarity have gotten so out of hand, I can't take my kids to football games or other public events (beach and such) cause every idiot once outdoors can't express themselves w/ out dropping the F-Bomb at least 10 times in the course of a conversation. Sure 1st amendment granted, doens't mean F-this and F-that. Nonsense. 1st amendment is the ability to speak freely without the fear of repercussion and express yourself.

Re:2 Elephants in the Room (1)

MosX (773406) | more than 5 years ago | (#25648311)

What harm? That your kids might have to hear a bad word, prompting you to tell them not to say it?

Words (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25647363)

Shit, piss, cunt, fuck, cocksucker, motherfucker and tits

Re:Words (1)

blindd0t (855876) | more than 5 years ago | (#25647417)

You missed a few... Bitch-ass. ;-)

Re:Words (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25647503)

Those are the heavy seven. Those are the ones that'll infect your soul, curve your spine, and keep the country from winning the war.

Re:Words (1)

HTH NE1 (675604) | more than 5 years ago | (#25648309)

Judging from how some movies [imdb.com] are edited for television, you can't say Jesus, but you can say God. (Or is it that you can't pretend to be Jesus, but you can pretend to be God?)

In others you can't have an alien creature show its face or speak English [imdb.com], but you can in its sequel [imdb.com]. Its been suggested that the vagina-shaped mouth (behind the mandibles) is the reason to not show the face, but to remove its ability to mimick English?

How ironic (0, Flamebait)

sofar (317980) | more than 5 years ago | (#25647369)

That it's Fox Television actually pushing this, being the most one-sided national news network in this nation.

Re:How ironic (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25647423)

You've must have never watched Faux News, that's the most offensive thing on television now adays.

Re:How ironic (4, Insightful)

internerdj (1319281) | more than 5 years ago | (#25647537)

It isn't all that surprising to me. Fox's bias isn't about a stand for a particular set of beliefs, it is about making money for Rupert Murdock. Fox (the broadcast channel) has long pushed the envelope on broadcasting decency(especially measured by conservatives) more than any other broadcast channel because that separates them from the other broadcast channels and is what gets them viewers in the context. Fox news promotes a deeply conservative environment because it separates them from the other cable-news channels and that is what gets them viewers in that context.

Re:How ironic (0, Flamebait)

TypoNAM (695420) | more than 5 years ago | (#25647933)

How would you know? It seems to be that all other broadcast corps are in the same bed of being as much one-sided Liberal and bias as possible to push for their own agenda to the general public. You could say they're Socialists.

Re:How ironic (1)

tnk1 (899206) | more than 5 years ago | (#25648007)

Precisely. Everyone thinks Fox is a conservative lap dog, when the reality is that Fox works for no one but themselves. They fill a niche in a market that is usually considered a liberal stronghold (the media). This gets them viewers who would prefer to see their views up in CGI and coming out the the mouths of talking heads.

Let's bear in mind that while Obama won, his electoral college landslide was really only a few percent difference of the popular vote. There is a huge pool of people in the US that Fox taps into to make money from and they do their best to play to them.

I've worked for a media outlet that everyone considers to be conservative (not Fox) and it amuses me to no end to see that and then go to the elections night meetings and hear most of the editors cheer when Democrats win. Simply reading a slant into a story does not mean that the company behind it is doing anything more than pandering to a group that will make them money.

Re:How ironic (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25647659)

That it's Fox Television actually pushing this, being the most one-sided national news network in this nation.

Who cares about news? Bart's going to run naked through Springfield again!

Re:How ironic (1)

Yvan256 (722131) | more than 5 years ago | (#25648017)

That's also not news.

Now if Lurleen would run naked through Springfield, THAT would be Fox News-worthy-ish, kinda.

Re:How ironic (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25647823)

I hate to break it to ya, but Conservatives - TRUE Conservatives - believe in the Constitution FIRST and FOREMOST. While what comes from it may go against some of our own personal beliefs on occasion, the framework the Constitution lays out is what most important.

Keep that in mind and you'll understand us a lot better.

FYI, Being a Republican does not necessarily mean you are a Conservative (Capitol C). i.e. Palin is a Conservative, McCain is a Republican.

Or... (3, Interesting)

crmarvin42 (652893) | more than 5 years ago | (#25648237)

1. Fox believes in freedom of speach and is fighting to up hold it for the Moral and "Small Government" resons that seem so important to most conservatives

or

2. They are fighting to cut down on the overhead associated with getting everything approved by the FCC for purely financial and organizational reasons

or

3. They think that it is ok in principle for the FCC to censor TV in certain situations, but that the FCC is being Capricious and they need the clarity that can be brought by adjudication via the highest court in the land

or

4. some combination of the above.

If I had a penny for every time someone who didn't even watch Fox news made some derogitory comment about it's supposed bias I'd be richer than Bill Gates. If I got another penny for each attempt by those people to justify their belief by using a partisan reference to back it up I'd have enough money to pay of the National Debt.

If you've watched Fox News and don't like it, then don't watch it. I don't care for most of the personalities on Fox, but I also don't care for most of the personalities on CNN or MSNBC. I think most major news anchors are, for the most part, a bunch of pompus tools that aren't worth listeninging to no matter which station they are on.

A monument to free speech (5, Interesting)

dkleinsc (563838) | more than 5 years ago | (#25647379)

I remember listening to an interview with an artist who had been commissioned to create a monument to free speech. This is what he came up with: A giant outdoor blackboard. Free chalk and erasers provided.

In response to the question "Won't people write obscenities? Draw porn? Offend people?", he said "Of course they will. And that's part of what free speech does."

Re:A monument to free speech (2, Insightful)

Trojan35 (910785) | more than 5 years ago | (#25647617)

Do the erasers represent the FCC?

Re:A monument to free speech (2, Interesting)

Captain Spam (66120) | more than 5 years ago | (#25648217)

Hm. A more curious question than it seems. At first, I was going to say that the people can use their own erasers on their own stuff. Except, really, can you really take back something you've said? I mean, once you've said it, it's been said, and you're not going to un-say it.

Maybe the piece would've been better without any erasers.

Re:A monument to free speech (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25648249)

they have one of these in charlottesville, va

Re:A monument to free speech (1)

CodeBuster (516420) | more than 5 years ago | (#25648339)

In response to the question "Won't people write obscenities? Draw porn? Offend people?", he said "Of course they will. And that's part of what free speech does."

Exactly. If people don't like free speech or believe that it is their right to go out in public and not be offended by speech on issues and topics that they consider sacred then they should to move to a country which more closely fits with their world view. There are plenty of countries on this earth that limit speech in any number of ways, all one has to do is select the country with the ideology that most closely matches their own. If, on the other hand, you want free speech then you have to put up with being offended by others speaking freely, particularly in public. Personally I think that free speech is a valuable right, perhaps the most valuable of them all, and the possibility of being offended, a remote one indeed for myself since I am too cynical to be offended by much of anything anymore, is a very small price to pay for such a valuable right. So let us keep free speech here in the United States and let those who are offended go wherever else they please. There are, after all, so many other religious regimes despotisms, and pseudo-democracies to choose from.

Which definition of Conservative do we go with? (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25647411)

In the 80's, the Rhenquist Court time and time again decided that federal agencies did not have the power to create meaningful rules (i.e. agency rules and agency "law" could not carry the weight of, never mind trump, Federal law).

That was the "true" Conservative position. Funny how we've come full circle, deciding that now a federal agency is free to engage in prior restraint. Instead of, you know, just doing what they're supposed to do, which is to make sure people are using the right frequencies that they're supposed to use.

Fuck the FCC (5, Interesting)

corsec67 (627446) | more than 5 years ago | (#25647507)

The FCC has authority to regulate speech on broadcast radio and television stations, but not the Internet, cable and satellite TV.

How?

The first amendment seems pretty clear that congress can't make any laws restricting speech, so how could it make a law delegating authority on speech either?

The FCC should ONLY be responsible for regulating who can use specific airwaves, not what can be sent over the airwaves. (And ideally the "who can use the airwaves" would be based on highest bidder to prevent any "you allow 'shit' and 'fuck' to be used on your program, you can't renew your license")

Re:Fuck the FCC (2, Interesting)

shentino (1139071) | more than 5 years ago | (#25647571)

I think that these licenses should always be reauctioned every year.

Winning the bid means you get to use the airwaves for the next year.

Proceeds should be parcelled out to towns and counties for the development of internet infrastructure.

Re:Fuck the FCC (-1, Troll)

DaveWick79 (939388) | more than 5 years ago | (#25647605)

Free speech can only go so far. If you were to be constantly swearing in front of my kids I would call the police on you and they would make you go away or stop. There's free speech and then there is offensive speech. It's the FCC's job to decide what it considers offensive and regulate it. People need to learn to speak the language and not fill in the blanks with a bunch of foul mouthed gutter filth.

Re:Fuck the FCC (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25647673)

So, why are those words bad, and what harm is caused by hearing them?

Re:Fuck the FCC (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25647793)

Maybe you and your brats should go away, if you don't like it. People should learn that their children should not dictate my freedom.

Re:Fuck the FCC (2, Insightful)

Utini420 (444935) | more than 5 years ago | (#25647935)

The key point isn't if those words are harmful or not or by how much. Your example is perfectly fine -- they are your kids, your decision. Now, no one should do any jail time or be thrown out of anything for cursing around them, its really your job to remove the children not the other way around. But above and beyond that, it isn't the government's job to set a law ahead of time regulating this exchange for both of us.

You never know, the parent standing next to you might prefer me to explain teen pregnancy to their daughter like, "If you fuck that guy it could ruin your goddamned life!" Silly example, yes, but the point is that in the one hand, you and I both get to choose. When the government does it, the choise is pre-made for everybody.

And fuck that.

Re:Fuck the FCC (1)

DaveWick79 (939388) | more than 5 years ago | (#25648183)

It's called protecting my desire to not be surrounded by it. It's on the same level as public nudity or lewd behavior. The burden shouldn't be on me to remove myself from that in a public location or for that matter on broadcast TV. And I think it is the government's job to set a law ahead of time because we as a people have proven that we can longer regulate or control our own behavior.

If it's on cable that's my problem - I'm paying for it.
I would expect broadcast TV to uphold some standard of decency, and they aren't regulating that themselves so the FCC has to. We expect those types of standards at nearly all public events in the US, and publicly available broadcast television should be no exception. If you want to be a potty mouth go do it with your potty mouth friends, don't do it in front of me.

Re:Fuck the FCC (2, Funny)

eleuthero (812560) | more than 5 years ago | (#25648011)

Yet another insightful comment hit by the slashdot bias, though admittedly, if the last sentence had been left off, it wouldn't have been labeled "troll"

Re:Fuck the FCC (2, Interesting)

e9th (652576) | more than 5 years ago | (#25647637)

Do you think the "fairness doctrine" is an attempt to regulate free speech?

Re:Fuck the FCC (3, Insightful)

husker_man (473297) | more than 5 years ago | (#25648133)

Do you think the "fairness doctrine" is an attempt to regulate free speech?

Personally, I believe that it is - free speech on talk radio, that is. All of the proposals revolve around re-regulating the AM band of the radio so that it is "evenly" balanced - like it was in the 1970's. The problem with that is that talk radio (which is heavily weighted towards conservative viewpoints) does compete with other forms of communication (like TV) that tends to more liberal viewpoints.

If the "Fairness Doctrine" is reimposed by Congress (contrary to what I believe free speech should be) or the other proposal floated by the Obama campaign (forcing radio stations to reapply for their license every two years, but mandating a panel that must "solicit public input on how the station is meeting community needs"), I predict that AM radio will be what I remember it to be - a wasteland of traffic reports, weather reports and the daily stockyard figures.

Yes, you may feel that Rush Limbaugh/Sean Hannity/ shouldn't be on the radio, but if you feel that words on TV shouldn't be censored, then why should the conservative talk radio's words be censored? Let them all be on, and let the people (rather than Congress) decide.

No restraint of free speech... (1, Interesting)

msauve (701917) | more than 5 years ago | (#25647873)

they can say whatever they want, just do it in a different medium.

These are public airwaves, and the public (through our representative government) has every right to restrict how they can be used. Saying you can't broadcast porno over the public airwaves doesn't limit free speech, it just means you have to find somewhere else to do it.

Limiting what content licensed broadcasters can send over the public airwaves is no more censorship than the fact that I'm not allowed to broadcast my speech on any frequency I want.

Re:No restraint of free speech... (2, Insightful)

compro01 (777531) | more than 5 years ago | (#25648181)

Explain how that is different from the current "free speech zone" nonsense.

Both strike me as a clear and obvious violation.

Absolutely restraint of free speech... (4, Insightful)

corsec67 (627446) | more than 5 years ago | (#25648241)

Ok, you claim that the airwaves are "public" and that means that censorship there is ok?

I would say the opposite is true:
Since they ARE public airwaves, censorship there shouldn't be tolerated at all. Would public (through our representative government) has every right to restrict how they can be used being applied to a public place also be acceptable?

Limiting what content licensed broadcasters can send over the public airwaves is no more censorship

What the fuck? That IS ABSOLUTELY censorship. You are LIMITING what they can say. THAT IS CENSORSHIP.
It is just censorship that you agree with.

Free speech means that I can say whatever the fuck I want to, with no restrictions. Add restrictions, and you no longer have free speech.

Re:Fuck the FCC (1)

MobyDisk (75490) | more than 5 years ago | (#25648185)

This is one of the fundamental flaws in our democracy today. If the constitution said "Congress shall make no law against wearing blue clothing" then congress would merely create the Federal Clothing Commission, who would then make a rule banning blue clothing. And somehow, that would not violate the constitution.

Re:Fuck the FCC (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25648277)

Public airwaves (not public tv) are considered a "service" .. so the government has some say in what can be transmitted (which is why they can take over a channel "in the event of an emergency"). Cable/Sat TV are privately funded so they're not subject to the same regulations.

I don't think this argument is from bad words being written in to a script (that's clearly a NO NO). This lawsuit was raised because a network broadcast someone saying fuck or something in a speech at an awards ceremony.

Re:Fuck the FCC (1)

sjames (1099) | more than 5 years ago | (#25648323)

Highest bidder doesn't work all that well either. That effectively reserves free speech to the wealthy.

Re:Fuck the FCC (1)

Quothz (683368) | more than 5 years ago | (#25648347)

How?

By retaining ownership of the broadcast frequencies. The FCC licenses their use, and in each license retains the right to punish unlicensed use (cussin', boobies, and such) through fines or revocation.

If a private company owned the frequency and licensed it out in this manner, there'd be little question of it being a valid restriction. As it stands, though, it's really a cheap exploit by Uncle Sam to dodge the first amendment question.

Obviously (hopefully obviously), broadcast rights need allocation by some method. High-bidder licensing with public and governmental use reservations is a pretty good scheme for doing so. The old public-interest method was tangled, arbitrary, and begged for corruption. However, the question of ownership beyond the minimum requirements of allocation is very much arguable.

Imagine the FCC claiming, say, a band from 75-250 Hz and licensing it with similar restrictions.* That's pretty extreme, but highlights the dubious nature of restricting licences beyond practical necessity.

It's good that SCOTUS is having a looksie at the arrangement, although the Court is conservative enough at the moment that I suspect the FCC will prevail.

* That'd be roughly the frequencies we use to make noises with our pie-holes.

If they rule censorship is okay then (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25647539)

I guess the Cowboy And Taco Show will have to be moved to late-night?

This is bunk (4, Insightful)

ShooterNeo (555040) | more than 5 years ago | (#25647577)

"Think of the children."

Precisely how does the use of expletives ever harm children? Arguments against sex and violence do hold a small amount of water. After all, many people who watch scenes of sex will feel various biological cues to engage in it. There are links between sex on TV and teen pregnancy. Of course, given the existence of the internet and cable television, access to contraceptives would probably be a more effective strategy to prevent teen pregnancy...

The same, to a less extent, with violence. The reason television violence is not as harmful is that it is difficult for the 'children' watching it to actually engage in violence, even if watching it on TV makes them want to. While almost anyone can have sex, assuming they find a partner, it takes training and practice to hit someone and cause real damage. Firearms are usually not just lying around, either, and also take practice before they can be used effectively.

So there isn't a neurological pattern in your brain that lets a person go from the couch to doing whatever violence that person sees on TV.

But course language? It never was the word that was offensive, it was the meaning...and there are plenty of messages to get the meaning out without using the words.

Heck, the F word is so over-used that it really isn't that offensive. "We fucked" can mean "we had sex in a lustful, vigorous manner". "fuck you, I'm quitting" can mean "this job does not compensate me at what I consider market value for my services, good day sir".

Re:This is bunk (1)

gstoddart (321705) | more than 5 years ago | (#25647851)

Heck, the F word is so over-used that it really isn't that offensive. "We fucked" can mean "we had sex in a lustful, vigorous manner". "fuck you, I'm quitting" can mean "this job does not compensate me at what I consider market value for my services, good day sir".

And, my all time favorite ... "fuck you, you fucking fuck." :-P

Of course, the trick is to see how many times (and for how many parts of speech) you can use fuck in a single sentence, and still have it be (essentially) grammatically correct and convey its meaning. I leave that as an exercise for whoever chooses to try. ;-)

Cheers

Oh really? (5, Insightful)

mweather (1089505) | more than 5 years ago | (#25647619)

The words in question begin with the letters "F" and "S." The Associated Press typically does not use them. "The reason these words shock is because of their association with a literal meaning," Chief Justice John Roberts said, suggesting his support for the policy

Then why are we allowed to say copulation and feces on TV?

Re:Oh really? (3, Insightful)

billius (1188143) | more than 5 years ago | (#25647879)

The words in question begin with the letters "F" and "S." The Associated Press typically does not use them. "The reason these words shock is because of their association with a literal meaning," Chief Justice John Roberts said, suggesting his support for the policy

Then why are we allowed to say copulation and feces on TV?

Indeed. The literal meaning of "rape" is a million times worse than the literal meaning of "fuck," and yet we unfortunately hear the former quite often during news broadcasts.

Re:Oh really? (1)

tnk1 (899206) | more than 5 years ago | (#25648129)

Then why are we allowed to say copulation and feces on TV?

Because they're boring and nobody cares.

Welcome to Democracy. Have a nice stay!

Re:Oh really? (1)

dkleinsc (563838) | more than 5 years ago | (#25648243)

And then, as Mr Carlin pointed out so brilliantly, there are words that are perfectly fine to say in some contexts and completely indecent in others: "Nomar Garciaparra has 2 balls on him!" is fine if you're talking about baseball, but not if you're talking about anatomy.

V-Chip (3, Funny)

Applekid (993327) | more than 5 years ago | (#25647695)

Thanks to mandating the V-Chip in every television set and tuner over 10 years ago there really isn't any excuse that people can receive "offensive" or "inappropriate" content. Parents and those who agree to tap into the airwaves (people who buy the TV) have to configure it: plain and simple. I mean, we trust them to configure their equipment already to tune to specific channels, right?

Not right. (2, Informative)

matthewncohen (1166231) | more than 5 years ago | (#25647891)

This case is largely about "incidental profanity" such as what comes out of the mouths of celebrities at awards shows or miked athletes in a football game. The networks have no way of preventing these sorts of occasional, often one-time outbursts from occurring. Blocking all live broadcasts with a V-chip or any other method is not a very practical solution.

Re:Not right. (2, Informative)

Applekid (993327) | more than 5 years ago | (#25648143)

The networks have no way of preventing these sorts of occasional, often one-time outbursts from occurring.

Sure they do: it's called a delay. It's standard practice for radio. If they're anticipating a bunch of potty-mouths at a live broadcast of a comedy show, hey, just block the time as TVAO and turn the delay off. If it's a live broadcast of The Lion King on Ice, block it as TVG and turn the delay on in case a naked streaker runs across the ice shouting "Ba ba booey."

Re:Not right. (1)

vux984 (928602) | more than 5 years ago | (#25648293)

Sure they do: it's called a delay.

Right, Fox can turn on the delay for these events and bleep as needed; and in fact this how life already works. The fact there would be a heavy fine won't affect them unless they are completely asleep at the wheel.

So why exactly is Fox taking this all the way to the Supreme court?

Because they DON'T WANT to bleep them, they want to be the broadcast network that lets celebrities swear, because they probably think they can boost ratings that way.

So its not that Fox can't prevent them, its that they DON'T WANT to; and this case is about whether they HAVE TO.

Re:Not right. (1)

squiggleslash (241428) | more than 5 years ago | (#25648333)

Why would anyone care about a naked streaker (from the DoRD, no doubt...) running across the ice if they're listening to it on the radio?

Re:Not right. (1)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | more than 5 years ago | (#25648151)

This case is largely about "incidental profanity" such as what comes out of the mouths of celebrities at awards shows or miked athletes in a football game. The networks have no way of preventing these sorts of occasional, often one-time outbursts from occurring. Blocking all live broadcasts with a V-chip or any other method is not a very practical solution.

By that logic children can't go out in public either. The other day at a restaurant I had to tell the college kids in the next booth to cut out the Carlin routine. My children don't seem irreparably harmed, so far as I can tell.

Re:V-Chip (2, Insightful)

Utini420 (444935) | more than 5 years ago | (#25647959)

Hush.
You'd make them feel stupid if they realized they could just change the damned channel.

saveusobama? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25647697)

I assume the "saveusobama" tag is a joke, since that's referring to the guy who's about to bring back the Fairness Doctrine.

What everybody else does (2, Insightful)

spaceyhackerlady (462530) | more than 5 years ago | (#25647771)

Why not do what everybody else does? If it's on at a time when kids are likely to be watching, take it easy on the profanity. If it's on later, when kids should be in bed anyway, don't worry about it.

This works fine in other countries. Why doesn't the U.S. do it?

...laura

Re:What everybody else does (2, Insightful)

B5_geek (638928) | more than 5 years ago | (#25647867)

Define "should be".

I think it's all Nanny-state crap anyway. Let people have a CHOICE, naked and naughty vs clean and sober.
If the majority don't want to watch it, it will die a natural death.

Fun little fact... (4, Insightful)

MikeRT (947531) | more than 5 years ago | (#25647885)

The Bible says that it's your own responsibility to avoid temptation (2 Timothy 2:22). It doesn't tell you to lobby Congress to legislate away your temptations, it says to flee all lusts and temptations.

God's big into that "personal responsibility" thing that's out of fashion these days.

Re:Fun little fact... (1)

soulsteal (104635) | more than 5 years ago | (#25648291)

You know what else fell out of fashion? Stoning. Man, I miss a good stoning.

All of society's ills could be fixed with a few proper stonings, including but not limited to:

Cursing
Blasphemy
Adultery (including rape victims who don't protest loudly enough)
Disobeying your parents
Touching Mt. Sinai
Not being a virgin on your wedding night (Ladies only!)

http://skepticsannotatedbible.com/says_about/stoning.html [skepticsan...dbible.com]

Obligatory (4, Funny)

Yvan256 (722131) | more than 5 years ago | (#25647907)

Freakin' FCC was sung by Peter, Brian, and Stewie in FG417 "PTV":
Peter: They will clean up all your talking in a manner such as this
Brian: They will make you take a tinkle when you want to take a piss
Stewie: And they'll make you call fellatio a trouser-friendly kiss
Peter, Brian, & Stewie: It's the plain situation! There's no negotiation!
Peter: With the fellows at the freakin FCC!
Brian: They're as stuffy as the stuffiest of the special interest groups...
Peter: Make a joke about your bowels and they order in the troops
Stewie: Any baby with a brain could tell them everybody poops!
Peter, Brian, & Stewie: Take a tip, take a lesson! You'll never win by messin'
Peter: With the fellas at the freakin' FCC And if you find yourself with some young sexy thing
You're gonna have to do her with your ding-a-ling, Cause you can't say penis!
So they sent this little warning they're prepared to do their worst
Brian: And they stuck it in your mailbox hoping you could be coerced
Stewie: I can think of quite another place they should have stuck it first!
Peter, Brian, & Stewie: They may just be neurotic Or possibly psychotic They're the fellas at the freakin FCC!

Unreliable Scalia (5, Interesting)

stinerman (812158) | more than 5 years ago | (#25647929)

Scalia, who happens to be one of my favorite SCOTUS justices, is very reliable to uphold the originalist meaning of the Constitution. That is, unless he doesn't like the behavior that the law criminalizes.

See Gonzales v. Raich [wikipedia.org] for a specific case where he throws his philosophy out the window because he doesn't like the idea of people getting high.

Censor commercials instead (1)

omfglearntoplay (1163771) | more than 5 years ago | (#25648179)

I'm pretty sure there are about 100 ways to prevent your kids from watching shows that are rated for language or whatever. What I want is a way to ban commercials for my kids without having to completely turn off the TV. Commercials are WAY more dangerous since they are about real life things that you can buy or do. Drugs, alcohol, sex, self-loathing, junk food... on a TV show is bad enough... but on a commercial that advertises crap you can get at the local fix Dr.'s office or buy at a convenience store is a whole different ballgame. Fuck all these drug advertisements on TV too... who needs that crap on TV? Go to a fucking M.D. or stop smoking if you are sick.

Besides, I don't want my kids nagging me about lame toys. Whatever happened to the cool violent toys of yesteryear? As much as I appreciate cartoons, I'm sick of all the ultra-cutsie stuff.

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