FOX fights the FCC all the way to the Supreme Court

January 12th, 2012

You know the world has gone insane when FOX is on the side of liberty. This week the Supreme Court is hearing arguments in the case of FOX v. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) over “fleeting expletives” uttered by Nicole Richie and Cher at the Billboard Music Awards almost 10 years ago (That’s the swift hand of justice for you).  

The argument is that “indecent” content should be protected  by the First Amendment, which is so obviously true it leaves me wondering why they formed the FCC in the first place. The entire purpose of the First Amendment is to protect offensive speech, not vapid speech. But of course the answer is obvious… it’s to protect the children.

The last time the Supreme Court considered this question was 1978. In FCC v. the Pacifica Foundation the Court ruled that broadcast television didn’t deserve full First Amendment protection because it was “invasive.” They likened broadcast television to an intruder from which parents needed the state to protect their children. That makes about as much sense as killing Joe Camel because children are powerless against cartoons, or banning Happy Meal toys because parents are powerless against their kid crying for a ten cent plastic chipmunk. What’s sad is that people actually make those arguments with a straight face.

If anything it’s the FCC that’s the unwanted intruder in my home. Broadcast television is an invited guest, and like any invited guest it can be asked to leave. If it says something I find offensive…. I can turn it off.

That was over 30 years ago. People were still pirating movies with crappy VHS copies back then. Since 2000 just about every television has been fitted with a government V-Chip, so parents can block content they don’t want their tender children exposed to anyway. Besides, these days people are getting video content online. Internet access can be an IV drip of “indecent” content… if you want it. 

The champion of the case so far is ABC’s representative Seth Waxman. ABC was added to the case for a fleeting buttocks on NYPD Blue. During an impassioned speech before the Court he pointed to the stone friezes that cover the interior walls and declared, “There’s a bare buttock there, and there’s a bare buttock here, and there may be more.

Let’s face it, “indecency” was, is and always will be in the eye of the beholder. The FCC hides behind this rhetoric of “community standards” but it’s all just the irrational preferences of some petty officious bureaucrat. If you ask me the entire concept of the FCC is abhorrent. They should be thrown in the dust bin of history.

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About the Author: Davi Barker

In grade school Davi refused to recite the pledge of allegiance because he didn't understand what it meant. He was ordered to do as he was told. In college he spent hours scouring through the congressional record trying to understand this strange machine. That's where he discovered Dr. Ron Paul. In 2007 he joined the End The Fed movement and found a political home with the libertarians. The Declaration of Independence claims that the government derives its power “from the consent of the governed." He does not consent.