Monday, July 28, 2008

On Censorship and Decency

to cut, delete parts of, make cuts in, edit, sanitize, clean up.

How did "censorship" become a bad word? Somehow, "liberal" thought has intruded on the meaning of this word to make it synonymous with "thought police." Supposedly, any censorship is unconstitutional - a violation of the first amendment rights of all Americans. Ooookay...

In the 2004 Super Bowl half time show, Janet Jackson had a "wardrobe malfunction" which exposed her breast to everybody watching (if only for a fleeting moment). The FCC fined CBS 550K for allowing this to be aired on national television. Frankly, I'm perfectly okay with this. Exposing one's bosom should probably NOT be allowed on television - especially not during a show that millions of children will also be watching. 

Of course, a federal appeals court threw the fine out last week, ruling that the FCC violated its own standards for what constitutes indecency. (HUH?) From what I've been able to gather, the FCC's rules have been challenged with language usage... and it has had a "decades-old policy of not imposing fines for isolated or fleeting material." Uh-huh. The FCC argued that the policy applied only to words, not to images - but the Court of Appeals rejected that reasoning and ruled that the FCC's fine to CBS was illegal because it "failed to provide a reasoned explanation, and appropriate notice, for its change in policy."

The New York Times has stated in an editorial piece, "It is a well-reasoned decision, and we hope that the Supreme Court, which will soon be taking up a similar case, will take as strong a stand for free speech."

Are you serious?? Janet Jackson's nipple constitutes free speech? What, exactly, was it trying to say? Perhaps a subconscious advertisement for breast feeding?

And, really, given the depravity of those creating "entertainment" for America, if it were seriously policy to allow exposed breasts on television I'm sure we'd be seeing them all over the place. As it is, far too much is exposed -- but a ruling like this, making it completely okay for the networks to show nudity as long as it's "fleeting" isn't going to make me want to watch TV. You never know what you're signing up for then!

The FCC has been fighting a losing battle, trying to keep television decent. In all reality, they're not fighting all indecency... they're just fighting some of the most flagrant violations. The use of foul language during certain hours (Bono at the awards?), a bare breast here and there... But the Court of Appeals also struck down the FCC's policy for "fleeting expletives." 

Thus, Andrew Schwartzman, president of the Media Access Project, is led to believe that the FCC's approach to indecency is "driven more by politics than logic." Fascinating!! Because the Court of Appeals makes a couple of really stupid rulings, suddenly trying to keep foul language and nudity off the air (unless you're paying specifically to get it) is not logical. Question for Andrew: How logical is it to assume that whatever the court decides is logical? Shouldn't we be thinking a bit here and imposing our own logic on issues?

According to the NYT, "The FCC rulings have had a serious impact on free expression. Because the agency's rules are so vague and the penalties so great, artists, writers and broadcasters have been censoring themselves." Oh NO!! Seriously? You mean that "vague" rules such as NO NUDITY and NO CUSSING are scary? And because of these "vague" rules and "great penalties," the artists and writers are choosing NOT to include these things in our television entertainment? For shame! Our founding fathers would certainly be kerflummoxed! That the constitution would be read in such a way!! May it never be... certainly "free speech" was intended to insure Janet Jackson against any repercussions for exposing herself on national television!

The Supreme Court has agreed to review the Bono ruling (yes, the one where the Court of Appeals decided against the FCC). The NYT is biting their collective fingernails, hoping that the Supreme Court won't backtrack on that "important blow for free speech." According to their editorial, they would like to see the Supreme Court join "these two appeals courts in reining in the FCC's misguided censorship campaign." 

So please... tell me this. (And, believe me, I'm just shooting for some logic here...) Why would the same people who argue that the FCC's decency regulations are based on politics instead of logic be all for the Fairness Doctrine? Hmmmm????

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