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The Potty Words Police Are At It Again
Excuse me, but what happens if you hear what could be best termed "a fleeting fuck" -- an expletive somebody accidentally lets fly on radio or TV? Does your head explode? Do your clothes disintegrate into a pile of ash? Does a section of your brain melt like a candy bar on hot pavement?

Brooks Boliek writes in the Hollywood Reporter that the Senate Commerce Committee is considering a bill called the "Protecting Children From Indecent Programming Act":

It would reinstate the FCC policy making broadcasters liable for a $325,000 fine for a slip of the tongue. A committee vote on the indecency measure is expected Thursday.

Earlier this year, the federal appeals court in New York tossed out an FCC indecency ruling that said a fleeting obscenity reference gets broadcasters a fine for indecency, telling the commission that it failed to give a good reason for its decision and likely could not find a good reason if it had to.

The committee members are likely to approve the legislation, as it has the support of the committee's leaders and is something that is politically difficult to oppose.

"It looks like it's getting the support that it needs to go through the committee," said Steven Broderick, spokesman for Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va. Rockefeller is the chief sponsor of the legislation and a senior committee member.

Commerce Committee chairman Sen. Dan Inouye, D-Hawaii, and the ranking member, Sen. Ted Stevens, R-Alaska, both support the legislation.

Rockefeller also is preparing legislation that would give the FCC the authority to regulate "excessively violent" content on television -- be it cable, satellite or broadcast TV.

Hey, you pandering jerk, there's already a means for doing that; in fact, two: the on-off switch and an antiquated practice called "parenting."

Furthermore, does anybody think "protecting" kids from hearing the occasional "fuck" that slips out of somebody's mouth on TV (and what five-year-old is up listening to Bono anyway?) is going to keep the odious words out of their ears?

Many or most kids probably hear plenty of swear words in movies their parents rent and in speech at home -- and maybe even overhear hints of them in news reports of vice-presidents speaking in the Senate. And besides, as I've said before, probably by about 11, kids are talking about teabagging on the playground. And the accidental "fuck!" or "fucking!" is going to burn up their tiny young ears?

UPDATE: Actually, the Senate Commerce Committee has passed the bill, and now it moves on to the full range of vote-panderers in the Senate:

But CDT (Center For Democracy and Technology) also points out that if Senator Rockefeller’s bill becomes law, it will certainly force the courts to consider the constitutional question: Does the FCC have First Amendment authority to censor the use of a single curse word over the airwaves?

Posted by aalkon at July 21, 2007 10:42 AM


You're not wrong about this, but the stakes are getting lower every day. Who cares about broadcast? Google appears to be preparing to take over the spot TV business almost as a lark. Fussiness about obscenity in the ether is petty and absurd, but didn't seem to badly warp public expression during the last century. Broadcasters are being picked on, but it's hard to argue that they earn their money through honest effort... Unless you really believe that Hogan's Heroes and Gilligan's Island serve the public interest, convenience, and necessity.

Yes, regulators are often shits. But, like, who cares?

Posted by: Crid at July 21, 2007 7:47 AM

This is just so stupid - what about all the swearing and calling people "bitch' in the prime time "comedies" on the major networks? They're exempt, I suppose...

Posted by: Flynne at July 21, 2007 8:55 AM

Hmmm. My son is five years old and while we don't watch broadcast or cable tee vee, he gets plenty of "naughty" language on public trans or just out walking. The remarkable thing, his head hasn't exploded, nor has he started cursing uncontrollably every time he's upset. Of course, we do this rather odd thing, called talking to him.

We talk about it when we see someone duck into a doorway to hit the crack pipe, we talk about it when we see someone mashing face on pubic trans, we talk about it when we see someone urinating in public. . .We even talk about it when we hear someone using harsh language. Remarkably, my son has a pretty good idea of when (if ever) those things and many others, are appropriate and when they are not. At five, my son occasionally swears himself. He doesn't do it at school, at church or in front of grandma - he just does it on those rare occasions when he's upset enough and it is appropriate to the situation.

People who are afraid of what their kids see and hear, are just lazy asshats who don't want to take the time to talk to them. They'd rather wait until their kid's smoking crack, pissing in the bus shelter or getting knocked up on public trans. . .Gods forbid we should deal with anything before it's too late.

Posted by: DuWayne at July 21, 2007 11:48 AM

Given the fact that Stevens wants to apply FCC obscenity oversight to satellite, but has failed to gain traction, you can see what Rockefeller is doing here.

By creating the violence monitoring responsibility for the FCC and making it apply to all forms of communication, not just terrestrial radio, he creates the precedent for Stevens to finally accomplish his wettest dream: the removal of Howard Stern from all forms of broadcast media.

Someone seriously needs to flush the house and senate out so we can start over with some people who don't have bugs so far up their asses that it's started to affect their brains.

Posted by: brian at July 21, 2007 11:54 AM

DuWayne's got it exactly right. So nice to hear about somebody actually parenting. Thank you -- that's one less rude asshole we'll have to contend with (they start somewhere, and it's often with people too lazy and/or too intent on being popular with their kids to parent them.

My big complaint with Howard Stern is his focus on the porn stars, etc. Not that I have a problem with porn. But, I've listened to him on and off since I was around 12 and he was on WWWW in Detroit. He's a smart guy and I wish he did a show on politics and other issues...or at least a second show with that focus.

Leykis, too, is smarter than his focus on the radio, but that's where the money is. I generally agree with him, but I find the constant "fuck the ho"/"fool the ho" emphasis a bit tiresome. My favorite Leykis shows are the ones where he talks about atheism, feminism, and stuff in the news.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at July 21, 2007 2:27 PM

I think Howard's schtick is verbal sewage, but I'll gladly protect his right to spew it. I don't expect media figures to be cultural leaders, nor do I blame bad art (ex: gangsta rap) for uncivilized behavior. I try to set an example, for my kids and community, that I can only hope people of influence will dwarf. 1 Bono is worth infinitely many Paris Hiltons.

Posted by: DaveG at July 21, 2007 3:31 PM

The scariest part of the story isn't the proposed fines on over-the-air broadcasters.

The really scary part is the thought of expanding the FCC's content regulatory power to cable and satellite signals. It's scary because it disregards the logic behind the the FCC's regulation of terrestrial broadcasts and sets an dangerous censorship precedent.

Posted by: winston at July 21, 2007 3:46 PM

> 1 Bono is worth infinitely
> many Paris Hiltons.

I don't like Bono. I think he's bad for Africa, and his sunglasses look silly.

Paris Hilton might not be good for much, but I'll never understand why people hate her so deeply.

Posted by: Crid at July 21, 2007 4:41 PM

Anyone remember that simspsons episode wear Kent Brokman had hot coffe spilled in his lap and swore?

Ned Flanders started a campaign to get him fired, his sons walked in and asked him what he was doing

He said ' I'm encoraging millions of people I don't know to punish a man they've never met for something he never meant to do and caused no harm to anyone '

And given the number of elementery student acctually fucking in class when the teacher leaves the room, perhaps someone accidently, or even intenionaly, swearing is no big deal

Posted by: lujlp at July 21, 2007 6:05 PM

You go Advice Goddess! And while we're at it, I'd like to ask, Hey - where's my fucking double penetration porn during the breakfast hour? What, you fucking Nazi puritans can't handle a little ass-to-mouth with your fluffy coissant and National Review? I guess you're too busy listening to Rush Limbaugh and dreaming of bombing poor Persians into radiocative dust to notice a little fuck-fuckity-fuck-fuck-fuck is exactly what you need?

I agree completely Amy - I'm just glad we have the blogosphere to show people what a pent up bunch of motherfuckers they are. Fuckin right.

Posted by: dan at July 21, 2007 7:32 PM


Re Paris Hilton, I think the price of fame is that people expect you to be worthy of it.

Posted by: DaveG at July 22, 2007 6:29 AM

Hey - where's my fucking double penetration porn during the breakfast hour?

Lena seems to find it without a hitch with Google.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at July 22, 2007 7:08 AM

Learning to swear or curse appropriately, stylishly and creatively is the true mark of having attained a high level of culture and civilization.

Paris Hilton might not be good for much, but I'll never understand why people hate her so deeply.
Overexposure. Why is the most uninteresting female life-form since the precambrian era being constantly shoved in our faces? Enough already.

Posted by: Daniel Dare at July 22, 2007 8:25 AM

> people expect you
> to be worthy of it.

Right, but why are people so eager to say she's not worthy of it, or less worthy of it than others? She's not famous for her cancer cures, mine rescues, or nutrition innovations. She's famous for having a good jawline.

> Overexposure.

She's not the punishing desert sun, bleaching our bones as we crawl towards a receding mirage. She only appears in the kind of media people make room for when they weren't going to do anything with their brains anyway. People always have a choice about how much room they make for her in their awareness.

If you're going to take the time to know who she is, no fair hating her. People hate Paris Hilton more than they love Norman Borlaug.

Posted by: Crid at July 22, 2007 12:42 PM

Yes, as I've mentioned recently I have 3 teenage sons. I did this wacky thing called 'Mothering' and I'll be damned if they haven't been able to assimilate into mainstream society! I never worried about RealSex on HBO because I (gasp) had the power to change chanels and regulate bedtimes! I PAY for cable, I buy porn and I don't want ANYONE telling me I can't watch the Sopranos because of 'the violence it portrays to the children'. MIND YOUR KIDS and stop minding mine.
I also support satrad because I love talk radio and I'm tired of my shockjocks having to try to come up with creative euphemisms for the word 'tit'. However, as a former Stern listener and supporter for 22 years, I must say I'm thoroughly dissapointed in the show he puts out on Sirius. It's the same old, boring show except he can pepper the conversation with an occassional 'fuck it'. I was expecting the revolution, but he pretty much just took the money and ran. My see those stocks lately??? Geesh

Posted by: Cathleen at July 27, 2007 11:04 AM

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