June 5 2007

Gee… the FCC went too far? Whoda thunk it.

From the Washington Post story, it gives you the basic bullet point you need:

A federal appeals court tossed out an indecency ruling against Rupert Murdoch’s Fox television network yesterday and broadly questioned whether the Federal Communications Commission has the right to police the airwaves for offensive language.

The New York Times also said similar. So, basically, what I’ve been saying ad nauseam for ages now about how everyone needs to just back off and allow people to make their own decisions… the judicial system somewhat agrees. Does the FCC even have this right? Why is it if someone utters four letters, arranged in a certain order, that is worth a TV station paying the government $325,000 per instance? In the cases cited, it wasn’t even the networks doing, but celebrities on awards shows who said the “offending” words.

I will never understand the obsession with “offensive” words. Why does one word hold more power than another word? Battlestar Galactica invented the word “frak” as their swear word. The, now canceled, show Veronica Mars adopted it for a couple of episodes with the clear same meaning as it had on BSG. So, a word with the same clear meaning, used in a similar fashion, and even sharing some of the very same letters is not offensive, and the FCC ignores it. However, say the word “fuck”, and each over-the-air television station that transmits the word will be fined $325,000 per insistence.

Alright, let’s say for arguments sake that every network show picked up “frak” as their curse word of choice. “Frak you!”, “Frak off!”, “FRAK!” start suddenly appearing all over the airwaves, and kids begin saying in school yards all across the land. The FCC sits on their behinds saying “Well… it’s not on our list.”, but someone on an awards show says “Fuck, can you believe this?!?” when they accept their award, and wham, here come the fines. Does this not illustrate just how broken, and arbitrary, the system is? So long as you INVENT your curse word, no matter what the clear intent of it is, it’s okay, because it does not exist on the FCC’s magical little list.

Am I calling for a free-for-all of swearing on TV? No, it would get boring and annoy me greatly. If it doesn’t fit the character, or the situation, I can live without it. However, do I think the FCC is outdated, and, for the most part, a pointless dinosaur of a gone-by era? Yes. It’s a thin line to walk, but the silliness of their fines needed to be questioned, and I am thrilled to see someone finally has.

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