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Supreme Court to Hear FCC Indecency Case

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 6 years ago | from the arbitrary-standards dept.

The Courts 453

MachineShedFred writes "The Supreme Court of the United States has announced that it will be hearing the FCC's appeal to the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals' decision that the FCC has changed its policy on fleeting expletives without adequate explanation. It's now on the FCC to explain to the Supreme Court why its policy has changed. This is also the first time the Supreme Court has heard a major 'broadcast indecency' case in 30 years."

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In other news (5, Insightful)

gnick (1211984) | more than 6 years ago | (#22775416)

FTA:

Solicitor General Paul Clement ... argued that the decision "places the commission in an untenable position," powerless to stop the airing of expletives even when children are watching.
Airing violent murders when children are watching? Still OK.

Re:In other news (1)

Wordplay (54438) | more than 6 years ago | (#22775490)

What, your TV doesn't have a v-chip?

Technology obviated the need for "decency timeslots" a long time ago...if only parents would use it.

Re:In other news (5, Insightful)

gnick (1211984) | more than 6 years ago | (#22775690)

What, your TV doesn't have a v-chip?
Actually it doesn't... But, I do have a superior system in place - Administrative controls. My kids are allowed to watch what I tell them they're allowed to watch. They have no televisions in their rooms and they'll have to get significantly more tech-savvy if they want to defeat the logging on my DVR. There's nothing technologically stopping from watching anything coming in, but we'd certainly have a chat about it if it was something objectionable.

Technology obviated the need for "decency timeslots" a long time ago...if only parents would use it.
I'd say that an obligation to parent responsibly should have superseded the need for "decency timeslots" from square one. Just my opinion...

Re:In other news (5, Insightful)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 6 years ago | (#22776034)

Definitely. Such administrative controls can also be used to get children to 1) do their homework, 2) do their chores (aka "assigned tasks"), 3) eat their vegetables, and/or 4) go outside and get some fresh air before the TV can even be turned on.

It's called parenting. When I was growing up, there were no technological controls available. We didn't have TVs in our bedrooms, and we were only allowed to watch what we were told we were allowed to watch. You watch something else and you were going to get yourself into trouble.

The bottom line is that if you need technology to control what you're kids are watching -- you are doing something wrong.

Re:In other news (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22776216)

Actually it doesn't... But, I do have a superior system in place - Administrative controls. My kids are allowed to watch what I tell them they're allowed to watch. They have no televisions in their rooms and they'll have to get significantly more tech-savvy if they want to defeat the logging on my DVR. There's nothing technologically stopping from watching anything coming in, but we'd certainly have a chat about it if it was something objectionable.

Come on now. Are you seriously advocating responsible parenting as a viable option? What decade do you live in?

Re:In other news (3, Funny)

WilyCoder (736280) | more than 6 years ago | (#22776010)

"What, your TV doesn't have a v-chip?" No, but my hand certainly has a "back".

Re:In other news (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22776072)

Graphic images of Abu Ghraib, SWAT actions, road side bombs, car crashes, drug use, violence in schools, and other general blood and guts come into my house from all kinds of news programs.

You see, it is totally OK to show REAL death and violence but the FAKE stuff gets rated TV-MA and blocked by V-Chip.

Oh...and commercials don't get ratings either, even if they have lots of TV-14 level references.

Re:In other news (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22776176)

Proper parenting obviated the need for 'decency timeslots' before television was even invented.

Re:In other news (4, Funny)

sgt.greywar (1039430) | more than 6 years ago | (#22775516)

Inconsistency is our watchword. Also incompetance.

Re:In other news (1)

Iphtashu Fitz (263795) | more than 6 years ago | (#22775582)

It's called "political appointee job security"

Re:In other news (2, Funny)

Toonol (1057698) | more than 6 years ago | (#22775592)

Inconsistency is our watchword.

No, it is not. Wait... yes it is.

Also incompetance.

You could'nt be futher from the truth.

Re:In other news (2, Funny)

DrSkwid (118965) | more than 6 years ago | (#22775996)

> incompetance.

FAIL

Re:In other news (4, Insightful)

explosivejared (1186049) | more than 6 years ago | (#22775660)

Well sensible parents would take care of their children and regulate what they watch. They would also discuss with their children the things they saw on tv and try to make the children understand the distinctions between the real world and fantasy. They would not rely on the, as my libertarian friend so lovingly calls it, the nanny-state to tell them what is ok for other people put on the air in front of children.

So in a situation that doesn't even have to be perfect, the whole premise of indecency is moot.

Lot's of people complain about neocons, or corporations, or illegal immigrants, or terrorists, or deviants ruining our country. They are so far off. Unfit and downright harmful parents are far worse.

Re:In other news (-1, Flamebait)

tsm_sf (545316) | more than 6 years ago | (#22775788)

You have to admit that it's harder for parents now that at least a basic cable subscription has been federally mandated. It's just a matter of making sure that the MDR of 3 hours viewing takes place during a family-friendly block of time.

Re:In other news (2, Insightful)

plague3106 (71849) | more than 6 years ago | (#22775834)

What are you talking about? Nobody needs to have basic cable.

Re:In other news (1)

Lemmy Caution (8378) | more than 6 years ago | (#22776096)

I share your sense that the values that are being enforced are silly, that obscene language is a ridiculous thing to get upset about.

But I don't share the belief that it is inappropriate to actually regulate air broadcast media. Broadcast frequency spectrum is a limited, and yet very public, resource. It is not like cable or other direct-to-viewer media. Without some kind of regulation, it would become unusable, the equivalent of those ungoverned campus bulletin boards in which every flier you post is covered up by another within minutes.

The term "nanny state" is getting overused and losing much of its precision of meaning. The state is a mechanism of administration, and in a democracy, a mechanism of mutual self-administration. The case needs to be made that this or that type of regulation is an inappropriate measure, but just out-of-hand calling any regulatory practice as that of the "nanny state" is a sign of lazy thinking.

Re:In other news (1)

explosivejared (1186049) | more than 6 years ago | (#22776226)

Notice I said "my libertarian friend" not that I'm a libertarian. Regulation is a good thing. Managing frequencies and licensing and such things is different than monitoring indecency. I agree with you, though.

Re:In other news (1)

mdielmann (514750) | more than 6 years ago | (#22776222)

As a parent, I generally agree with you. The problem I have is being able to tell what's going to be aired in what show. For myself, I don't care about most requirements. Sex, drugs, rock 'n' roll (now replaced with swearing) are no big deal - it's not going to change my behaviour one way or the other. But I have stricter guidelines for my children, and how I want them to develop. If the shows have no rating/warning, or don't follow the rating, I'm either not letting my kids watch, or getting pissed when the rating is ignored.

Re:In other news (1)

fm6 (162816) | more than 6 years ago | (#22775726)

Which speaks to the nasty truth about TV censorship: it's not about "decency" or "protecting the children," it's about keeping people from complaining. Thus you can't say "cunt", but you can say "nookie" even though it's also a reference to the vagina, because most people (or at least the people who run the Outraged Parents of America or whatever) think it's just a cute way of saying "have sex". Then there's "prick" and "schmuck" which are English and Yiddish words for the same thing. As a person of Jewish persuasion, I don't know whether to be offended or amused.

who the frell forgot the frelling dren! (1)

kesuki (321456) | more than 6 years ago | (#22776192)

use of frell!?! Ah yes, why the Frell do I have to be the one to mention frelling dren!

ah yes, farscape found a loophole in the FCC censorship problem... just make up a word, it's made up after all. and with websites it's easy to link a made up word to a 'real' curse word.

well (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22775424)

i think it is about time they abolish this crap

And the Results (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22775452)

8-1 that the FCC is indecent. Damn you Justice Ginsberg!

I think... (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22775458)

I think I speak for us all when I say "About fucking time!"

Re:I think... (1)

poetmatt (793785) | more than 6 years ago | (#22775718)

That shouldn't have been a troll from the AC. That would have been positive modding that should have gone on there.

He is right when he says "about fucking time", as that is exactly the verbiage that reflects on the problems we're having with indecency lately. Fleeting expletives are almost impossible to control and had it not been for "puritanical" views being shoved onto broadcast TV and radio, such wouldn't be a concern. It would also give radio a better selling point versus XM/Sirius as well, considering that one of the reasons people give XM/sirius it's business is that it's not filtered for political agendas nor for content/language.

Where does it stop? (5, Interesting)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | more than 6 years ago | (#22775466)

How blatantly arbitrary and unfair. Why is the FCC flipping out over "fck" on the radio after this [wikipedia.org] went unpunished!

On a related note( possibly straying offtopic) this was a big issue in L.A. and elsewhere across the US with Spanish-language radio stations that were getting away with their equivalent [puertorico-herald.org] of uncensored Howard Stern. How will the FCC go after them? What about Korean radio curses? When does it end? Hopefully the FCC will be so swamped with complaints that they'll be unable to investigate them all, and then they'll quit being our mommy and focus their efforts towards the future of spectral management.

Re:Where does it stop? (3, Insightful)

Hatta (162192) | more than 6 years ago | (#22775496)

How blatantly arbitrary and unfair. Why is the FCC flipping out over "fck" on the radio after this went unpunished!

Because the FCC only regulates over the air broadcasts. The FCC *is* arbitrary, unfair, and evil, but you should learn a bit before criticizing them, or no one will take you seriously.

Re:Where does it stop? (0, Flamebait)

postbigbang (761081) | more than 6 years ago | (#22775586)

And I'm offended by those that use obscenities; I find it a poor substitution for a good vocabulary and a sign that the utterer means to pander to bad word choices. I'll be modded flamebait, oddly.

Re:Where does it stop? (4, Insightful)

Hatta (162192) | more than 6 years ago | (#22775646)

If you don't like it, you're free to leave the room or change the channel. If I don't like censorship, what options do I have?

And why are your feelings more important than mine?

Re:Where does it stop? (2, Interesting)

postbigbang (761081) | more than 6 years ago | (#22775830)

You're advocating adding obscenities, or perhaps also profanities. Think about this. Your vandalism of the language is less important than the sensibilities of others that would prefer to hear tracts of communications that aren't littered by detritus, poop-language, banal references to sex, and other excreta. I/we/they deserve a common communications over the free and public airwaves that's free of obscenity. If you want to color your world with such muck, it is your choice to lower yourself to this standard. Instead, lift to one that's free of it. On private media, do what you will-- including this one. If you feel compelled to spew, do it in a place where your choices don't sully the common good. Your feelings, scatalogical or obscene, have merit, but not with in the context of a public place. Do I use any of these? Occasionally, within private context, and not on the public airwaves-- which is the context of the post.

Re:Where does it stop? (5, Insightful)

Hatta (162192) | more than 6 years ago | (#22775898)

Why do you get to define what sort of language is permissible and what kind isn't? I would argue that censorship is vandalism of language, as quite often there's nothing as expressive as a well used profanity.

There is no objective measure of what language is lower or higher than another. It's all just words.

Re:Where does it stop? (-1, Troll)

postbigbang (761081) | more than 6 years ago | (#22776084)

Common convention defines it. So does common sense. Your arguments, while seemingly nicely provocative, don't hold water. They're poor substitutes. The word 'fuck' is like an ejaculatory response. Quaint. So is the word 'shit'.

There are common criteria for measure of language. Linguistics falls as an argument against 'it's just all words'. It's meaning. Guns don't kill, people do. Fie.

Re:Where does it stop? (2, Insightful)

Abcd1234 (188840) | more than 6 years ago | (#22776124)

Common convention defines it. So does common sense.

No they don't. Otherwise, the Supreme Court would have nothing to rule upon.

Example: Is the word "nigger" allowed?

Re:Where does it stop? (3, Insightful)

Hatta (162192) | more than 6 years ago | (#22776170)

Your arguments don't hold water. "Because I say so" isn't an argument at all.

And profanity absolutely can be used for powerful artistic effect. Case in point, Alan Ginsberg's "Howl" [tripod.com] , ruled not obscene by the Supreme Court 50 years ago.

Re:Where does it stop? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22776098)

"You're advocating adding obscenities, or perhaps also profanities. Think about this. Your vandalism of the language is less important than the sensibilities of others that would prefer to hear tracts of communications that aren't littered by detritus, poop-language, banal references to sex, and other excreta. I/we/they deserve a common communications over the free and public airwaves that's free of obscenity. If you want to color your world with such muck, it is your choice to lower yourself to this standard. Instead, lift to one that's free of it. On private media, do what you will-- including this one. If you feel compelled to spew, do it in a place where your choices don't sully the common good. Your feelings, scatalogical or obscene, have merit, but not with in the context of a public place. Do I use any of these? Occasionally, within private context, and not on the public airwaves-- which is the context of the post."

You must be the life of any party...

Re:Where does it stop? (2, Insightful)

gnick (1211984) | more than 6 years ago | (#22776128)

You're advocating adding obscenities, or perhaps also profanities.
The problem here is nit-picking what's obscene/profane. I think that reality shows are at least as insulting as the occasional dirty word. And, I don't want my kids exposed to mind-numbing Paris Hilton garbage or Big Brother or any of that other tripe. I choose not to "color my world with such muck", so I either watch a different channel or just turn the TV off. It should not be a major hurdle to figure out which shows are likely to offend you and avoid them.

Re:Where does it stop? (1)

orclevegam (940336) | more than 6 years ago | (#22776202)

Poorly structured sentences and those devoid of meaning can be uttered just fine without having to resort to profanity, and likewise very well structured and appropriate sentences can contain profanity. Your objection makes no sense, as it's the person doing the talking, and the meaning they put behind it that determines the worth of the communication, not the specific words chosen. Although some words can more effectively communicate the nuance of what the person is trying to impart, no words are inherently worth more or less than another, and anything considered an expletive is merely a cultural oddity. People offended by a word, rather than being offended (or not) by the meaning of the sentence the word is used in, are so shallow as to be worthless. There are no bad words, and there are no good words, all words are equal.

Re:Where does it stop? (0, Redundant)

Bryan Gividen (739949) | more than 6 years ago | (#22775942)

I'm not going to argue that censorship is legitimate or necessary, but if you don't like censorship, pay for channels (HBO, Showtime, etc.) which do not have censorship. You still have options, albeit options you may not like. Censoring expletives does not so radically limit your rights that any court will side with the "You are taking away my God-given privileges" argument.

Re:Where does it stop? (5, Insightful)

Hatta (162192) | more than 6 years ago | (#22775974)

As Lenny Bruce said, "If they can take away your right to say 'fuck', they can take away your right to say 'fuck the government'". And that's a message that deserves to be broadcast.

Re:Where does it stop? (1)

Bryan Gividen (739949) | more than 6 years ago | (#22776078)

Except that it's completely different. One is obscenity while the other obscenity with public dissent. Neither is permitted, but normal dissent is entirely legal. ABC, NBC, and other networks are publicly broadcast. They are the television equivalent of putting a flier in a door. As a result, the government puts limits on what people can or can't put on a door. (If someone goes around putting pornography on everyone's door, he'll get arrested. If other people, in private settings, ask him for the pornography, they can legally obtain it.) The line of the original logic also follows that, "If they take away my right to sleep with an 8 year old, they can also take away my right to sleep with my wife." In theory, they could make laws against it, but in the society we've built, there is a certain understanding of there is a line.

Re:Where does it stop? (1)

The End Of Days (1243248) | more than 6 years ago | (#22776004)

And hearing profanity doesn't hurt you in any measurable way, so why is your right to not hear it?

Re:Where does it stop? (1)

MBCook (132727) | more than 6 years ago | (#22776070)

Some people are offended by the use of the n-word. Should that censorship be overturned? Would you like it if every show on prime-time TV started using that word all the time?

I don't know if you'd care, but there are many groups that would fight that "uncensorhip" tooth-and-nail. "That's different" you might say. Why? Because it's more extreme? So was the f-word once. And if it is just different, where is the line? How do we draw the line between "OK" and "bad"?

There are many other things I could fit in instead of the n-word. Isn't preventing certain kinds of... let's call it deviant pornography... from being shown on TV censorship? Are you arguing against that as well?

Frankly I'm with the grandparent. I'd prefer a tougher line on this stuff. Your last statement applies just as well to you as to us:

"And why are your feelings more important than mine?"

My theory: in a case where two people have to agree on something and don't, the option that is the least harmful should win. Which is more likely to be harmful: no cursing, or tons of it? It's not a life or death question, granted. But why do we have to err on the side of "uncouth" language, and not the gentler option. If we let the n-word be used everywhere (like we do with the f-word), wouldn't it lose much of it's meaning? Then if you were to argue against it, wouldn't you be in the same position we are? I've put up my argument as to why our opinion should win out, what's your argument as to why it is more beneficial that people are able to cuss whenever they want on TV? Here is your question for you again:

"And why are your feelings more important than mine?"

Re:Where does it stop? (4, Insightful)

Microlith (54737) | more than 6 years ago | (#22775686)

And I'm offended by those that use obscenities;

You don't have the right to not be offended.

You can, however, criticize them for their impotence in linguistic capabilities. This is the nature of free speech and freedom of expression.

Re:Where does it stop? (1)

postbigbang (761081) | more than 6 years ago | (#22775918)

Offense is an observation within this context; we all have rights to them-- we are human and must observe. Free speech and expression within the context of public airwaves has been, and continues to be, different than other contexts, and is the crux of this post. Tho I otherwise loathe the FCC, there needs to be a responsibility taken on the part of the public to protect the airwaves from the scatalogical, obscene devolution of language on public airwaves. On other media, let them sink to their lowest common denominator until it's worse than the cesspool it is today.

Re:Where does it stop? (1)

Microlith (54737) | more than 6 years ago | (#22776068)

there needs to be a responsibility taken on the part of the public to protect the airwaves from the scatalogical, obscene devolution of language on public airwaves.

Does there really? I personally find obscene devolution of social awareness spurned on by trash like American Idol far worse than the fact than the possibility that the FCC won't be able to arbitrarily sock people with multi-hundred-thousand finds for saying "fuck" on the air (even accidentally!)

The FCC should be solely concerned with regulating the allocation of the EM spectrum usage in the United States, and that's -IT-.

Re:Where does it stop? (1)

brunascle (994197) | more than 6 years ago | (#22776122)

and why exactly? protection from what? these are words. they mean nothing. it's only the context they're used in which holds any meaning, and replacing them with other socially "appropriate" words changes nothing.

you have emotional baggage tied to arbitrary words. that's your problem, not ours, and it gives you no right to control what can and cannot be said in public.

Re:Where does it stop? (5, Insightful)

Umuri (897961) | more than 6 years ago | (#22775728)

Yeah.... Let's go with that belief.

Because obviously someone uses a profane word because they lack the eloquence to call someone a bumbling ignorant uncultured swine of a simpleton. And obviously when someone wishes to damn someones soul to eternally burn in the fires of hell, they must say so in such verbage, instead of just simplifying it to "damn you" with the rest understood.

Obviously people use profane words because they lack the vocabulary to use others words, and NOT because certain words have three key features:

1. understood nearly universally within the culture
2. carry a weight to them, especially when said very sparsly
3. convey the point they are intended with little room for misunderstanding

True one could be complex with their insults and verbose with their exclamations, but that would truly render them useless.
What good is it to call someone a hedonistic glutton if they don't understand what you're saying?
You would feel good you've insulted someone who can't understand what you're saying, and that is a worthless act. At least if you call them a lazy fatass they understand that they need to get up and move, in your opinion.

I would argue that a well placed fuck or damn is more important than a good vocabulary. More so when you reserve your usage of them, as people notice when someone who rarely does so, curses.

Re:Where does it stop? (1)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | more than 6 years ago | (#22775872)

Who's to say that you can't combine eloquence and excrement? One could say, "bumbling ignorant uncultured swine" or one could say, "dumbfuck" -- but one could also say, "Dumbass naive uncultured fuck."

Re:Where does it stop? (1)

postbigbang (761081) | more than 6 years ago | (#22775876)

I would argue that it's easy to devolve into the many uses of 'shit', 'fuck', and 'damn', the fodder of which has been seen in countless posters and comic routines. None belong in the public airwaves. The exhortation of these words is verbal flatulence of the worst kind, incendiary, and malevolent (if occasionally funny but within private contexts).

Re:Where does it stop? (1)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 6 years ago | (#22775748)

The fact that you don't realize that expletives are an important part of any language, and communicate certain meanings that cannot be conveyed any other way, shows that you perhaps don't appreciate language as much as you think you do. There is a world of connotative difference between the immediacy of "Get THE FUCK down!" and "Get down!" Nothing grabs someone's attention as quickly, or communicates as much importance in a short burst, as a well-placed expletive in a serious situation.

I certainly don't won't my aircraft pilot saying "Oh, shoot!" through the radio (implying a minor problem) when he should be saying "Oh SHIT!" (implying a MAJOR, wake-up-in-the-control-tower problem).

Granted, abuse of the words strip them of much of their power. But dismissing them as utterly useless in the English language (or any other language) is unfair.

Re:Where does it stop? (1)

fyngyrz (762201) | more than 6 years ago | (#22775966)

Many years ago, my father told me that a good reason not to use expletives in casual speech is that you won't have anything effectively shocking left to use as emphasis if and when the need arises. I was 16 at the time, and though I should have listened just because he was a writer by trade (and a Hugo-winning one at that), I found that his point made sense in and of itself. I took it to heart without having to look for additional justification.

In the last decade or so (I'm 50-ish), I find the urge to use expletives arises less and less (and consequently their impact with people who know me is rising), but this in no way implies that I fork over the right to the government to tell me what I can say, and who, or to people of what age, I can say it to, regardless of venue. As far as I am concerned, the FCC is engaged in unconstitutional and therefore unauthorized (and impossible to authorize without a constitutional amendment) behavior. Which does tend to cause the urge to spew a few expletives to arise.

Re:Where does it stop? (1)

timster (32400) | more than 6 years ago | (#22775882)

Your feeling of offense, like anger at the weather, is perhaps justified but most certainly useless.

The problem with profanity, and government censorship thereof, is that profane speech is such a slippery topic. An example: Fark is a moderated forum, and there's nothing particularly wrong with a privately-controlled forum exercising censorship. But as a whole, it's doubtful that restricting profanity has elevated the level of discourse. People seem encouraged to write "shiat", though there is no possible argument that this is any different from the word that they are avoiding. At the same time, a disgusting word has been invented which means (of all things) "child", and personally I cannot imagine how any word could ever be more offensive, but it seems to be allowed without complaint. Here on Slashdot it's rare that anyone would use either word, but that is probably due to the different audience that this site attracts.

I'm sure that, over time, social awareness of this word will increase, and it will be placed on the list of words that are frequently objected to. I'm sure that by then there will be plenty of new words, and ultimately there is no purpose or meaning to such an arms race. In particular, you can be sure that no part of the process will raise the level of discourse or improve anyone's vocabulary.

Re:Where does it stop? (1)

Constantine XVI (880691) | more than 6 years ago | (#22775964)

FYI, the "shiat", "biatch" and "fark" you see people using are likely a result of Fark's profanity filter (with obvious meanings). Likewise, anything containing "first post" is filtered to "boobies" and timestamped a few hours into the future.

Note: the filter ignores context and spacing, leading to some unintentionally mangled posts.

Re:Where does it stop? (5, Informative)

Walpurgiss (723989) | more than 6 years ago | (#22775536)

It went more or less unpunished because South Park is on a cable TV network, not broadcast TV. The 6am - 10pm decency rules don't apply to cable or satellite television broadcasts.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/7301244.stm [bbc.co.uk]

This bbc story about it mentions this information.

Re:Where does it stop? (1)

esocid (946821) | more than 6 years ago | (#22775740)

Which is exactly why Comedy Central can air things 100% uncensored in their "secret stash." You get Richard Pryor, Robin Williams and any other movies in all their [expletive deleted] glory.

[expletive deleted] != Fuck
Just kidding.

Re:Where does it stop? (4, Insightful)

gnick (1211984) | more than 6 years ago | (#22775558)

A couple of local DJs, in order to avoid fines over the word "shit", have taken to regularly saying "shite". Why in the H-E-double-hockey-sticks is one any more inappropriate than the other?!? This is just farking silly. If a radio station/TV station/whatever airs stuff that you find offensive or inappropriate for your kids, change the fuggin station...

Re:Where does it stop? (4, Funny)

drkich (305460) | more than 6 years ago | (#22775692)

What the FRAK are you talking about?

Re:Where does it stop? (1)

LandDolphin (1202876) | more than 6 years ago | (#22776104)

lol, I love how they did that. Any show with Soldiers has to have causing to be even remotely believable.

Re:Where does it stop? (1)

Z00L00K (682162) | more than 6 years ago | (#22775570)

Of all the strange "crimes" that human beings have legislated of nothing, "blasphemy" is the most amazing - with "obscenity" and "indecent exposure" fighting it out for the second and third place. - RAH [heinleinsociety.org]
So it's really nothing new.

Re:Where does it stop? (0)

ShieldW0lf (601553) | more than 6 years ago | (#22775842)

Why are swear words bad?

Swear words have been made of a whole host of different classes of words. Some cultures use sex, things like fuck and cunt. Some use human waste, things like piss and shit. Some cultures use religion, things like tabernacle. Disease, racism, bestiality, questionable parentage, the list goes on.

But the reason they're bad has nothing to do with what they mean.

The purpose of a swear word is to bypass the rational mind and evoke emotional responses in other people against their will.

Or, to put it another way, when you swear in the presence of other people, you're making them irrational and stupid.

Depending on when and how you do that, the effect can range from annoyance and settling back down into thought all the way to a series of escalating irrational reactions that lead to death.

That is why it's not an acceptable thing to do. It's like screaming "Fire" when there isn't one. It hurts people.

It's amazing how quickly you can get a child to stop swearing when you simply explain this to them instead of issuing ultimatums. Shame grown adults are incapable of getting the point...

Shit on Star Trek: TNG.... (1)

iknownuttin (1099999) | more than 6 years ago | (#22775816)

There was an episode that I can't remember where Picard utters under his breath, "merde!" (Shit! in French). Nothing happened - which is good in my book.

Re:Where does it stop? (1)

bhima (46039) | more than 6 years ago | (#22775892)

It's arbitrary because the FCC does not give a flying fuck.

They only react to complaints. The only complaints they get are from a single Christian Asshole group "Family Television Council". The vast majority of individual complainants having never seen the broadcast they are complaining about.

It is also not surprising than non English broadcasts don't have similar complaints (despite Latinos being largely conservative... this is because there is high correlation between Christian Assholism and the racism & bigotry to drives things like the "English only" movement in America. It goes without saying that these bigoted Christian Assholes are not listening to a lot of Spanish & Korean programming.

I wonder how this will turn out... as this is essentially the path to Christian Reconstructionism.

Crazy society (5, Funny)

HungSoLow (809760) | more than 6 years ago | (#22775510)

In some cases you can watch people fuck, but you can't say fuck. Others you can see someone get fucked up, but can't say fuck. I mean seriously, what the fuck?

Re:Crazy society (1, Funny)

Jrabbit05 (943335) | more than 6 years ago | (#22775544)

Where art thou, mod points?

You bet! (1)

iknownuttin (1099999) | more than 6 years ago | (#22775706)

In some cases you can watch people fuck, but you can't say fuck. Others you can see someone get fucked up, but can't say fuck. I mean seriously, what the fuck?

Gosh darn it! Isn't that the truth!

Re:Crazy society (4, Insightful)

rbochan (827946) | more than 6 years ago | (#22775938)

"We train young men to drop fire on people. But their commanders won't allow them to write 'fuck' on their airplanes because it's obscene!"
        - Colonel Kurtz, Apocalypse Now

Re:Crazy society (1)

vimh42 (981236) | more than 6 years ago | (#22776134)

fogetta bout it

Not this logic again (1)

techpawn (969834) | more than 6 years ago | (#22775524)

FTFA

The FCC has pending before it "hundreds of thousands of complaints" regarding the broadcast of expletives, Clement said. He argued that the appeals court decision has left the agency "accountable for the coarsening of the airwaves while simultaneously denying it effective tools to address the problem."
Giving government more power to control the people is NOT the same as denying them tools to address a problem. It's denying them tools to control the people

Fucking FCC (3, Funny)

Gr33nNight (679837) | more than 6 years ago | (#22775574)

The fucking FCC can fucking go fuck themselves if they fucking think that removing fucking expletives from the fucking TV is going to protect the fucking children. I fucking heard the goddamn fuck parents swear all the goddamn time and I am perfectly fucking OK, goddammit.

Re:Fucking FCC (4, Informative)

Hatta (162192) | more than 6 years ago | (#22775678)

This is as good a place as any to mention the perennial classic, the FCC song [youtube.com] .

Re:Fucking FCC (1)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 6 years ago | (#22775782)

Papa Fuck, is that you?

Re:Fucking FCC (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22775956)

The fucking FCC can fucking go fuck themselves if they fucking think that removing fucking expletives from the fucking TV is going to protect the fucking children. I fucking heard the goddamn fuck parents swear all the goddamn time and I am perfectly fucking OK, goddammit.
Goddamnit, fuck you!

Strange visions (1)

Reziac (43301) | more than 6 years ago | (#22775576)

When I read this in TFA...
=======
"f------ brilliant." The FCC said the "F-word" in any context "inherently has a sexual connotation" and can trigger enforcement.
======= ...I couldn't help but wonder if the FCC thinks fire comes out of your ass when you fuck?!

Re:Strange visions (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22775948)

You mean to say that fire is NOT supposed to come out of your ass when you fuck? Hmmmm, I guess I should go see a doctor...

Self censorship (3, Insightful)

TheP4st (1164315) | more than 6 years ago | (#22775618)

I am baffled that American media is so afraid of offending it's viewers and readers that AP is indulging in self censorship to such an extent that they don't even write the word shit in the article. "Cher used the phrase "F--- 'em" and a Dec. 10, 2003, Billboard awards show in which reality show star Nicole Richie said, "Have you ever tried to get cow s--- out of a Prada purse? It's not so f------ simple." What I find most disturbing is that people who find words like fuck, ass, cunt etc being too offensive to be broadcasted often are the very same that shout the most when Muslims object against publication of images depicting Mohammed.

Re:Self censorship (2, Interesting)

jav1231 (539129) | more than 6 years ago | (#22775730)

Not to defend them but words like "fuck" and "ass" and "cunt" are societal taboos. Depicting Mohammed is a religious taboo so its focus is much narrower. Societal taboos change over time. Even now "ass" is becoming less a swear word and more a synonym for butt.

Re:Self censorship (1)

EricWright (16803) | more than 6 years ago | (#22775920)

It's been years ... nay, a decade or more, since ass was verboten on the US airwaves. The first words out of Bender's mouth in the first Futurama episode (aired in late 1999) were "Bite my shiny metal ass". The local radio station will actually bleep the LAST half of the word 'asshole' in songs in which it appears. There's even an entire show with ass in the title: Jackass.

Re:Self censorship (1)

LandDolphin (1202876) | more than 6 years ago | (#22776230)

There's even an entire show with ass in the title: Jackass.

By that logic there is a state with "ass" in it's name too: Massachusetts The ass in Jackass is not the same kind of ass as the ass in benders shinny metal ass.

Re:Self censorship (1)

Itninja (937614) | more than 6 years ago | (#22776086)

Well, not to beat a dead ass, but historically 'ass' was a shortened form of 'jackass', which itself was just a work for donkey. Even in the old KJ version of the Bible, it's said that Jesus rode into Jerusalem 'upon an ass'. It's only when it started to become another term by the hind quarters, and later paired with 'hole', that it became a 'bad word'. Kind of like 'teat' evolving into 'tit'.

Re:Self censorship (1)

TheP4st (1164315) | more than 6 years ago | (#22776112)

So, free spech apply to religious taboos but not to societal taboos?

Re:Self censorship (1)

residieu (577863) | more than 6 years ago | (#22776002)

I can't understand why they seem to think "F---" is less offensive than "Fuck" Anyone who reads that knows exactly what word is being obscured, and doing it just draws attention to the word. Lookee here, there was a "bad word" here, can you guess what it was? I knew that you could.

Re:Self censorship (1)

TheP4st (1164315) | more than 6 years ago | (#22776194)

The offensive word that is censored into "F---" is not Fuck but Free as in Free Speech.

Bono (3, Funny)

esocid (946821) | more than 6 years ago | (#22775654)

Fox Broadcasting Co., along with ABC, CBS and NBC, challenged the new policy after the commission said broadcasts of entertainment awards shows in 2002 and 2003 were indecent because of profanity uttered by Bono, Cher and Nicole Richie.
I, personally, am offended by anything that comes from the brains of two of those three people.

Re:Bono (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22775756)

Luckily for you it's not coming from their brains.

Re:Bono (2, Funny)

compro01 (777531) | more than 6 years ago | (#22775922)

I, personally, am offended by anything that comes from the brains of two of those three people.
objection! assumes organs not in evidence.

Re:Bono (1)

Hatta (162192) | more than 6 years ago | (#22776046)

But you're ok with Cher? Really?

grown ups still need parents? (1, Redundant)

vajaradakini (1209944) | more than 6 years ago | (#22775684)

Why is it that adults can't act their age and a) change the station when they hear something that offends them or b) contact the station directly to deal with their frustration. If enough people change the station when they hear something offensive, the sponsors will stop putting their ads during a certain programme and the programme will get pulled. If enough people decide that they like shows where people can say "fuck" then the show will stay on the air. Why can't it just work like this?

Also, don't get into this "think of the children!" business. When I was a kid (which wasn't that long ago) there were a lot of shows I wasn't allowed watching because my parents didn't allow me to watch them (I was also only really allowed to listen to one radio station). My parents television got the channels with these shows that I wasn't allowed watching, but they kept an eye on my television habits instead of using tv like a baby-sitter or substitute parent and expecting a government to keep me from seeing or hearing inappropriate things.

Re:grown ups still need parents? (2, Insightful)

plague3106 (71849) | more than 6 years ago | (#22775946)

Why should parents complain to the station? It has the same effect as censorship. I would state that adults should a) not be so easily offended and b) realize that while they may disprove, nobody else in the world should care, and move on with the lives.

Re:grown ups still need parents? (1)

vajaradakini (1209944) | more than 6 years ago | (#22776164)

Well, this does sound good, however it is possible that other people actually are offended by the same things and informing the station at least gives them a reason for people turning the channel and if they feel that regaining these viewers is important then they have the opportunity to change the show, but if they don't then they won't. It's much better than siccing some government body on the station to force them to pay a fine. Also, if people contact the station, then it can possibly be influenced either way (i.e., one group of people suggests that a show use milder language, so the show changes, then a bigger group of people complains that the mild language is less authentic so the show changes back). Although I suppose that the real world doesn't really work this way.

I'm optimistic. (3, Interesting)

Toonol (1057698) | more than 6 years ago | (#22775698)

I think it's very likely that the FCC will lose on this one. The first amendment is one of the few areas that can often bring both sides of the court together, and one of the few rights that may be even stronger today than it was decades back.

My bet is that, while the basic principle that the FCC can regulate public airwaves won't be challenged, the court will chastise them for inconsistent and arbitrary enforcement and their unclear guidelines.

v-chip (1)

fred fleenblat (463628) | more than 6 years ago | (#22775856)

One approach would be to have the default as-shipped v-chip settings be more conservative, so that people have to go into a setup menu to specifically request more violence, more nudity, more adult language. Given that, networks should then be free to mark their broadcasts appropriately (regardless of time of day) and not worry about who will be offended. Anyone offendable won't be able to watch the broadcast without changing their TV settings to allow it.

IOW, why have both the FCC and V-chips. One should be enough as far as content goes.

Re:v-chip (4, Insightful)

BitZtream (692029) | more than 6 years ago | (#22776182)

One approach would be to have the default as-shipped v-chip settings be more conservative, so that people have to go into a setup menu to specifically request more violence, more nudity, more adult language. Given that, networks should then be free to mark their broadcasts appropriately (regardless of time of day) and not worry about who will be offended. Anyone offendable won't be able to watch the broadcast without changing their TV settings to allow it.
Or we could just modify the default settings for parents to have them do their job and be parents rather than depending on someone/something else to pay attention to what their child is doing. Perhaps if they would actually do their job as a parent rather than breeding then pawning their kids off on someone else to watch them and depend on technology and goverment bodies to determine whats safe for them to hear/see then the US might not be in the state its in currently.

IOW, why have both the FCC and V-chips. One should be enough as far as content goes.
As per my above statement, neither are needed for censorship in this matter, just have parents that pay attention to what their kids are doing, then neither is needed, its distributed computing the way its meant to be. What these things facilitate is parents who are completely out of touch with their children.

Appearently is okay to let your children watch the news reports of school shootings so they get the idea to do it themselves rather be responsible and in touch with your child enough to know that A) watching such thing isn't the brightest of ideas for your unstable goth brat, B) you might actually notice they are an unstable goth brat who has no idea how good their life is compared to someone with real problems.

Slightly in line with this rant ... I think we should send all the little depressed teenagers who think life is soooooooo horrible to Ethiopia for a 6 month period to live with a family that has real problems, let them figure out how bad life can actually be rather than cuddling them and telling them how sorry we are for them.

pump up the volume - talk hard (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22775932)

go watch pump up the volume and talk hard

now i must go fuck myself while sucking a gorilla shaped penis

Obligatory Monty Python/Eric Idle FCC Video (1)

AaronW (33736) | more than 6 years ago | (#22775970)

I hope the Supreme Court pisses all over the FCC and this fucking indecency shit and gets it thrown out.

Obligatory Monty Python/Eric Idle FCC video [youtube.com] .

Or you could just do like us (2, Interesting)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 6 years ago | (#22776014)

And not have any form of TV service, be it cable or otherwise, coming into our house. Granted, my girlfriend and I don't have kids as of yet (we are only 23), but when we do, TV will be something that DVD's and video games are displayed on, not something that MTV will be piped into.

I would much rather have my child playing video games for 20 hours a week than watching TV for 20 hours a week. At least by playing video games, they are learning hand-eye coordination, problem solving, strategic thinking, and awareness of their surroundings. Granted, there is the whole "violent video games" argument, but that's neither here nor there insofar as what I think of TV.

I don't object to TV because it's violent or anything like that...I object to it because you are doing literally nothing while sitting in front of it. Try beating Ninja Gaiden Black on Master Ninja difficulty and tell me you weren't just doing something involved.

Re:Or you could just do like us (1)

cptdondo (59460) | more than 6 years ago | (#22776146)

Or better yet, turn off the f*cking thing altogether and play. Yeah, it's old-fashioned, but it's fun. Hey, and you know, you learn how to deal with other people, resolve conflicts, learn to share, develop imagination, and if you're throwing a ball you get to learn eye-hand coordination too.

People got along for a few millenia before TV, radio, and FCC. It isn't that hard.

It is a problem... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22776050)

It is a problem in today's society. It's even a big one--the promulgation of swear-words is connected to a general growth of--well, rudeness. Impoliteness. It's not just lack of respect, it's lack of human decency, and that *is* a problem. I'm not saying we shouldn't be able to use swear words or have them in movies, I'm just saying they should be less common than they are, and should be reserved for moments when they're *really* appropriate.

My great grandmother once told my great aunt there were these two words she heard all the time now that she never used to hear, and what were they? Fuck and shit. She was the wife of a lumber baron and born in the 1890s, and if she never even *heard* the words before, imagine how much our language has changed. That's not a good evolution.

The FCC is destructive (5, Informative)

JonC88 (1176057) | more than 6 years ago | (#22776102)

I'm a DJ for a very large college radio station (broadcasting all over the Boston metropolitan area in the middle of FM dial) and the most disconcerting facet of the post-wardrobe malfunction FCC crackdowns is the fact that even a single incident would result in my station being shut down. We got one complaint a few years ago (in the more tolerant era), so now, if we were to become a repeat offender, the fine--several hundred thousand dollars--would completely bankrupt the station. SInce we're independently funded through ad revenue, there's no way we could pay, and we'd be off the air--just if somebody complained to the FCC because a late-night DJ slipped up and said "Fuck" on air, even when we're actually allowed to play music containing the same word.

To me, at least, it seems incredibly obvious that the punishments are beyond the limits of sanity. The FCC is trying to look out for the standards of our community? Yes, my station plays underground rock and hip-hop at night (I DJ for those programs), but during the day, it's exclusively jazz and classical. If, at 3am, a hip-hop DJ curses, leading to a complaint and the end of the station, who really loses? I suspect that the thousands of classical and jazz listeners would be more on the losing end than the asshole who called in the complaint or any of the other people who happened to hear the word "Fuck" in the middle of the night.

The FCC is just one manifestation of how colossally fucked up governmental regulation is becoming. I'm all for the government trying to help out the people, but not when there's clearly no understanding of how the real world actually operates.

Why was certiorari granted? (3, Insightful)

yuna49 (905461) | more than 6 years ago | (#22776158)

The Supreme Court chooses to hear roughly 100 cases per year from a pool of some 7,500 petitions. After not touching the issue of broadcast language for 30 years, at least four Justices agreed to hear such a case now. Is this an effort by the conservative wing of the Court to uphold the FCC's (and the Bush Administration's) position that some censorship is required and legitimate? Perhaps, but I think this case might be about something else.

The Appeals Court did not rule that the FCC had abridged speech or press freedoms in these cases, but instead that the FCC's policy was not sufficiently well justified. There are standards for the behavior of regulatory agencies like the FCC that require them to spell out in sufficient detail why they've made a change in the rules. The Appeals Court ruled that the FCC had failed to meet these standards. That Court also advised the FCC it didn't think there was a way the Commission could implement its intended policy consititutionally. Since the Supremes are really ruling on the procedural matter, the question of why they took this case becomes even more cloudy.

I suspect the Bushies are defending other cases where the issue is whether a regulatory agency has provided sufficient justification for changing course. Rules like these restrict the president's ability to change the regulatory regime since opponents of the changes can go to court claiming the agency didn't fulfill its obligations. All those proponents of a strong Executive in the Administration like Dick Cheney would probably love to see the Supremes agree that the FCC had done its job.

I wish we could learn who voted for cert, but those votes are secret.

May I be the first to say. . . (1)

Satanboy (253169) | more than 6 years ago | (#22776168)

It's about fucking time.

Drat this darn old friggin' profanity shite (3, Insightful)

Stanislav_J (947290) | more than 6 years ago | (#22776214)

The FCC has pending before it "hundreds of thousands of complaints" regarding the broadcast of expletives, Clement said. He argued that the appeals court decision has left the agency "accountable for the coarsening of the airwaves while simultaneously denying it effective tools to address the problem."

I think "hundreds of thousands" is hyperbole -- I can imagine MAYBE a few tens of thousands at most. And it has been shown in the past that the vast majority of these are usually automated "copy, sign, and send" complaints coming from a very tiny group of people associated with some of the right-wing Christian watchdog groups. I seem to recall that of the complaints that came in about the infamous "wardrobe malfunction," all but a tiny handful came from ONE group's members.

I guess I'm someone who just never understood the whole concept of certain words arbitrarily being designated as "naughty." Profanity serves a purpose in language -- it can be overdone, but there are also times when it is entirely appropriate. I cringe every time I watch "Law and Order" or other crime shows and hear some gang member or drug dealer use the contrived euphemism "friggin'" -- it rings SO false and destroys the credibility of the character.

And I guess I don't understand people who are offended to the point of pathology by words. Just words. Not even necessarily the idea behind the words (which can be offensive, for much better reasons) but the words themselves. It's like hearing or using those words is some sort of magical incantation that will corrupt their children, compromise their salvation, and spell the doom of Western civilization.

The best of the bunch are the folks who condescendingly say, "The English language is so rich, there are plenty of words and synonyms -- why so you have to use THOSE words?" And my response is: if you truly appreciate the breadth and variety of the language, why are you trying to LIMIT the number of words that can be used?

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