Sunday, March 23, 2008

The Supreme Court and Indecency - New York Times

The Supreme Court and Indecency - New York Times: "The Supreme Court is throwing itself back into the debate over indecency on television, and that may not be a good thing. It agreed last week to review the Federal Communications Commission’s policy of punishing broadcasters for airing “fleeting expletives” — a few isolated bad words. A federal appeals court wisely struck down the F.C.C.’s harsh rules, which have done serious damage to free speech. We hope the Supreme Court does not authorize the F.C.C. to return to its censorial policies."
POLS 354 and 101:
The New York Times is worried that if the FCC punishes broadcasters for "fleeting expletives," it will do "serious damage to free speech." I find the argument weak. What do you think?


Jonathan said...

Is it too much to ask that those broadcasting on PUBLIC airways use a little decency and respect in their speech? I highly doubt that supplementing a "fleeting expletive" with a little more civilized term would take anything away from their free speech. If you want to drop the f-bomb or talk about 3-ways with transvestites join Howard Stern on Sirius satellite.

Anonymous said...

First of all the issue does not focus on swear words, but on something less offensive, fleeting expletives. The f-bombs have nothing to do with it. Furthermore, Jon you should change your profile picture, that beer makes your responses less credible, no offense. I agree with professor that it is a stretch of the argument to say that the first amendment is violate. The argument is largely about framing and not the content. However, NY Times do have a valid point about FCC intrusiveness and there should be clearer guidelines on what is proper.

Jonathan said...

How dare you question my credibility and then sign your post with "ANONYMOUS" - that is called cowardice. If you don't agree with my position do NOT resort to personal attacks because that is called ignorance.

Do your research. The debate over television decency was rekindled in part by Bono in the 2003 Golden Globe awards ( Wait 5 mins, 44 secs to hear him drop the F-BOMB.

I don't think clearer guidelines would make any difference - that's why they are called "fleeting expletives" - they are unscripted words that celebrities blurt out. If we can't get celebrities to take proper care of their children or drive under the legal limit I highly doubt that "clearer guidelines" is going to clear up the airways. I would like to see the celebrities grow up a little and show viewers a little more respect by keeping their language clean.

Evan McKenzie said...

I think the "fleeting expletive" is the occasional unplanned "F-bomb" or other indecency by, for example, a guest or an award recipient. The idea is that these are not shows that planned to include profanity. Instead, somebody blurted it out. The argument I said was weak was the claim that punishing fleeting expletives would have a harmful effect on first amendment liberties. Maybe it would, but I thought the article didn't really explain that connection clearly. I guess they are saying there's nothing a network can do except hire only safe performers who have no edge at all and won't drop in any unplanned profanity or sex (like Janet Jackson's "wardrobe malfunction).

And please lay off the personal attacks. We don't want flame wars here.