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TV broadcasters are now free to curse and include nudity

The U.S. Federal Communications Commission and its enforcement of anti-obscenity laws have long been a thorny irritation to colorful media figures like Detroit rapper Eminem who famously sang, "So the F-C-C won't let me be. Or let me be me so let me see. They tried to shut me down on M-T-V. But it feels so empty without me."

Today the U.S. Supreme Court released a ruling that significantly scales back the FCC's censorship authority.  In the case Federal Communications Commission, et al. v. Fox Television Stations, Inc., et al. the highest court in the land refused to assess the constitutionality of U.S. federal law that prohibits broadcasted obscenities. However, it did deal FCC efforts a blow by finding it illegal for the FCC to fine TV broadcaster who air obscenity or nudity during daytime hours.

Extra Notes:
A couple of points of clarification.  The ruling does not scrap wholesale the obscenity laws, merely state that they need to be clearly defined in non-arbitrary language by the FCC.  Thus, it does effectively scrap the laws for now, but may not long term.  That said, it does leave the door open to future review.

The court did not overturn the Appeals court's ruling that the law was unconstitutional, hence for now the law can indeed be considered unconstitutional and uneforceable from a second front -- the Appeals decision, until the Supreme Court agrees to rule on Constitutionality.

Lastly, the ruling applies equally to all television broadcasters, and several other broadcasters like ABC had joined Fox in the lawsuit defense.  In other words, Fox did not get "preferential treatment".

I. FCC's Obscenity Censorship is as Old as Broadcast Television Itself

The ban on TV profanity is virtually as old as broadcast television itself.  The first line-based broadcast television tests were carried out in 1933.  Just a year later Congress passed the Communications Act of 1934 that formed the FCC, the agency tasked with governing radio and the emerging TV format.

The Communications Act contained provisions banning obscene content from being broadcast.  

TV 1940s
Profanity has been banned from daytime broadcast television since its introduction
[Image Source: unknown]

In the post-World War II era, television became a ubiquitous element of society and the ban on obscenity was inserted into the U.S. Criminal code.  Specifically, Title 18 of the United States Code, Section 1464, prohibits the utterance of "any obscene, indecent or profane language by means of radio communication."

Violations carried stiff penalties -- from the code: "Whoever utters any obscene, indecent, or profane language by means of radio communication shall be fined not more than $10,000 or imprisoned not more than two years, or both."

The FCC, tasked with enforcement of the law, ruled that between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m. all obscene content was out-of-bounds.  Between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m., there was a so-called "safe harbor" rule that allowed the broadcast of profanity and sexualized content, but certain words like the F-word in certain contexts or explicit depictions of sex remained prohibited even during this special time.

II. Public Support for Rules Wanes

But as society traded their suits and ties for jeans and a t-shirt, public sentiments about the obscenity ban shifted.  Many became critical of the prohibition.  After all, didn't the First Amendment guarantee:

Congress shall make no law ...  abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press

Couldn't obscenity be considered "free speech"?

And then there was the issue of inconsistent enforcement.  As cable television became popular in the 1980s and 1990s, the FCC relaxed rules on sex and swearing on cable, under the notion that sensitive individuals like minors whom the law was designed to protect wouldn't have access to the paid content.  Likewise, internet TV and/or radio content in the 1990s and 2000s has been minimally policed by the FCC.

Amid this uncertainty network television began to probe the limits of what qualified as "obscene" with the so-called "fleeting obscenity" -- occasional spontaneous outburst of a curse word or two from TV hosts or commentators.

Fox pressed the issue with a pair of Billboard Music Awards broadcasts.  In 2002 Cher addressed her critics by exclaiming during the broadcast "fuck 'em", and the next year Nicole Richie during her presentation about her TV show The Simple Life remarked, "Why do they even call it The Simple Life? Have you ever tried to get cow shit out of a Prada purse? It's not so fucking simple."

The FCC did not react sympathetically to broadcasters testing the limits with spontaneity.  In 2004 it released strict guidelines forbidding fleeting obscenity and sued Fox for the curse words it broadcast.

The case languished in the courts for a half decade before finally coming before the Supreme Court in 2009.  At the time the Supreme Court ruled narrowly in the FCC's favor (5-4), but it refused to rule on the Constitutionality of the case.

III. Round 2 at the Supreme Court

That led the case to continue to crawl through the federal court system with the Second Circuit Court of Appeals in New York City unanimously finding that the FCC rules violated First Amendment protections to free speech.  In the unanimous ruling Judge Rosemary S. Pooler wrote [PDF]:

By prohibiting all 'patently offensive' references to sex, sexual organs, and excretion without giving adequate guidance as to what 'patently offensive' means, the FCC effectively chills speech, because broadcasters have no way of knowing what the FCC will find offensive. To place any discussion of these vast topics at the broadcaster’s peril has the effect of promoting wide self-censorship of valuable material which should be completely protected under the First Amendment.

Round 2
Round 2 in the censorship case just wrapped up. [Image Source: AP]

But the case was not over.  The Appeals court ruling meant that the case was yet again lofted to the Supreme Court.  That second hearing finally reached a ruling [PDF] this week, and the result was a reversal of the 2009 decision.  Ironically, the Supreme Court opted to yet again to refuse to rule on Constitutionality of the obscenity ban, meaning that the case may yet again be headed to more appeals.  Alternatively, similar cases may crawl up the court ladder and be heard by the Supreme Court in the future, who will likely eventually have to make up its mind regarding Constitutionality.

But for now TV broadcasters are free to beginning offering up profanities and nudity in their broadcast, which may make for saucier programming from fictional cop (melo)dramas to reality TV.

The reversal brings broadcast TV in line with the privileges enjoyed by its internet and cable television peers.  One final important note: sorry Eminem, radio broadcasters are still forbidden from airing profane commentary or songs -- the last surviving bastion of FCC censorship.

Sources: The Supreme Court [PDF], 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals [PDF]

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Getting closer and closer to true freedom
By deathwombat on 6/21/2012 3:45:23 PM , Rating: 5
The FCC needs to learn two lessons:

There are no obscene words, though we can use words to express obscene thoughts.

According to the FCC:

Unacceptable: You are fucking beautiful and I love you with all my heart.
Perfectly okay: I hate you and I hope your children die of cancer.

The latter uses no "bad words", but which statement is more offensive?

There are no obscene body parts, though we can use our bodies to do obscene things.

We can use our genitals to make love and create life, or we can use them to rape. Breasts can be sexualized, but they're actually for feeding our young. There is nothing inherently obscene about any part of the human body.

I am so tired of "tradition" being used to defend censorship and discrimination. A day is coming soon when people will be able to use any words they want, and then the "bad words" will lose their power and become like every other word. A day is coming when no body parts will be considered obscene, and the "shameful" body parts will become like every other body part. A day is coming when "tradition" will no longer be a good enough reason to ban gay marriage, and then gay marriage will be just like every other kind of marriage. Like slavery, segregation, bans on interracial marriage, bans on oral sex and other "deviant" sex acts, and every other rule where any court or any government had the gaul to tell you how you could live, what you could say and who you could love, all of these foolish rules will eventually be abolished and people will finally, truly be free.

I just hope I live to see it.

RE: Getting closer and closer to true freedom
By praktik on 6/21/2012 3:48:05 PM , Rating: 2

By lamerz4391 on 6/21/2012 7:29:42 PM , Rating: 2

By Obujuwami on 6/21/2012 4:27:41 PM , Rating: 5
To quote the late, great George Carlin: "There are no bad words, there are only bad thoughts. It's when we associate that thought with a word that it becomes bad."

RE: Getting closer and closer to true freedom
By IranTech on 6/21/12, Rating: -1
RE: Getting closer and closer to true freedom
By deathwombat on 6/21/2012 5:10:21 PM , Rating: 5
See Obujuwami's comment. There is nothing inherently obscene about any particular combination of vowels and consonants. There are bad thoughts, and there are words that tend to be associated with bad thoughts. The n-word, for example, is permanently associated with hate.

What I'm saying is that words are tools and, like any other tool, they can be used for good or evil. What I object to is that the FCC prevents certain words from being used even to express good thoughts. You can use any word in the English language to express a hateful thought, so declaring certain words officially "bad" doesn't prevent people from expressing obscenity, nor does it prevent currently acceptable words from being associated with obscene thoughts in the future. As you say, words change. Instead of trying to maintain a list of words that are associated with bad thoughts in a language that is constantly changing, they should stop regarding any word as being inherently good or bad and just focus on legal vs. illegal expression.

Your rights extend until they infringe upon the rights of someone else. You can't shout "fire" in a crowded theatre, or terrorize someone by sending them death threats, or encourage the public to kill someone, because that infringes on other people's rights to life and security. The FCC should only concern itself with keeping illegal expression off of the airwaves. They shouldn't be allowed to declare any content morally objectionable because morality is subjective. There are parts of the world where an uncovered ankle is scandalous, and there are parts of the world where topless beaches are the norm. Everyone has the right to make their own decision about what they want to watch or listen to. The media should only be required to disclose what kind of content will be in their programming so that you can make an informed decision about whether or not you and your family will watch it. There is no justification for banning any legal expression from the airwaves.

RE: Getting closer and closer to true freedom
By TSS on 6/21/2012 6:48:05 PM , Rating: 5
The n-word, for example, is permanently associated with hate.

The more you say words, the more power they lose. By not saying nigger, but just referring to it, you're making sure it stays associated with hate.

Just think of this: born in 1987 in holland i'd have no idea what nigger is or means if i didn't hear so many african-americans (bullshit word to, you're not africans, you're *just* americans)stand up comics call themselfs niggers.

Funny thing is, untill i saw eddie griffin's last show, i actually thought nigger was just another word for "black person". They seem to constantly refer to eachother that way, and no white person has dared explain anything to me because they don't get it either. Eddie griffin basically explained it as the black version of white trash. See, now that i can understand, so they're basically calling eachother "rednecks". I'd still question the choice of words, but since i also call my friends bastards from time to time so i can certainly understand.

Why black people would call eachother slave and then get mad why others call them slave i couldn't understand, and that was my definition for nigger since i first encountered it, a slur used by white people to look down on black slaves, which was it's original meaning. I imagine this confuses alot of white people. This is not racism, just people being naive - having a lack of knowledge of what came before because they wheren't around then. Not explaining or getting mad when they have questions is not the way to fix this.

As long as you seperate something you're going to continue to be affected by the effects of that seperation. As long as there are people afraid to even refer to nigger, it will be a very powerfull word. When a white guy can say "sup my nigga" in compton and no black guy other then the one he's greating will turn his head, that's when it's finally lost it's power. And that's also when the white man can start viewing the black man as his equal. How is he supposed to do that when you willingly seperate yourself through culture and words?

It'll take forgiveness by the black man and balls from the white man, but it's not impossible. Just remember to not pass on the hate to your kids. I was taught to respect all people, and i do. But that doesn't mean i can automatically understand them....

RE: Getting closer and closer to true freedom
By Cheesew1z69 on 6/21/12, Rating: -1
RE: Getting closer and closer to true freedom
By kerpwnt on 6/22/2012 12:30:49 AM , Rating: 5
If it was so hateful, why would so many people use that word when referring to their friends?

RE: Getting closer and closer to true freedom
By Cheesew1z69 on 6/22/2012 9:48:48 AM , Rating: 2
IMO, they are ignorant. That's why.

By Avatar28 on 6/22/2012 11:07:20 AM , Rating: 2
IMO, they are ignorant. That's why.

So what you are saying is that they are using the word literally or self-referentially then?

By TSS on 6/23/2012 10:45:07 AM , Rating: 2
So they are the ignorant ones huh?

RE: Getting closer and closer to true freedom
By jRaskell on 6/22/2012 1:01:05 PM , Rating: 1
I will always associate it with hate.

There, I fixed it for you.

By deathwombat on 6/22/2012 4:31:24 PM , Rating: 2
I'm willing to treat it as just another word, but I'm not sure that the world is.

By stardude692001 on 6/21/2012 8:47:36 PM , Rating: 2
you are right my friend.

RE: Getting closer and closer to true freedom
By Aloonatic on 6/25/2012 2:52:15 AM , Rating: 3
I don't think that nigger means slave, but it was never said to someone in the past (white talking to black) in a positive way, and was just meant as a put down.

The reason why black people took to calling each other nigger is similar to the way that gay people take on using words that were/are used in an attempt to put them down and make them feel inferior/bad, so that they can take some of the "power" away from the word and "claim it" for their own.

The sad thing is that sometimes the rules that are placed on these things only make matters worse.

There was a "scandal" on the UK version of Big Brother a few years back where a white girl was thrown out because she used the word nigger when talking to one of the black girls on the show. The thing was, she was not using as a slur or a way to put the black girl down, the black girl was not offended in any way herself. The white girl was using it in the same way that black people use the word when referring to each other, and I think that she was from a part of the UK where there are a lot of black people and she had grown up with the word just being used as a way to refer to each other. What made it worse was there were 2 black girls who referred to each other as nigger too, when the 3 of the were chatting, so basically, why was the white girl thrown out?

Prejudice, based purely on the colour of her (white) skin. Because she was white, it was presumed that she meant the word in a nasty, harmful way, while the black girls didn't.

Now, isn't that exactly what we should we be fighting against? That is one of the cornerstones of the fight against racism, that people should not pre-judge people and treat them differently purely because of the colour of their skin.

Blunt instruments like banning words and such sometimes do more harm than good, and now that we have moved into an age where different generations are integrated differently with people of different races, and in some ways the very idea of "race" doesn't mean much to some, these old rules just don't work.

By The Raven on 6/25/2012 4:57:14 PM , Rating: 1
I don't think that nigger means slave, but it was never said to someone in the past (white talking to black) in a positive way, and was just meant as a put down.
This is not true. Go read the Adventures of Huck Finn. You will have a better understanding of its historical use then.

In many ways it simply meant black. You can tell the way that Huck talks about how Jim and him shouldn't be treated differently and what not. That is obviously a kind thought but it is laced with the word nigger. So does that mean that he hates Jim? Of course not...he is his friend.

Of course when people were so warped as to think that a certain race was equal with the cow and that is what you referred to them as of course it would come off as derogatory. Even if it meant something as simple and skin color. I mean who likes being called a cow?

Now if the cow became equal to man then people wouldn't have an issue being called a cow and nor would the cow. There might be a period where everyone would have to call them bovines or something and not use the c-word, but they shouldn't give the word a negative meaning. They should embrace it like the bulls who call their bitches cows.

See how silly this is?

By savior0002 on 6/27/2012 6:16:13 AM , Rating: 2
I agree with the core of what you said. As a person of some mixed U.S.-African genetic lines in my ancestry, I can understand the confusion. Since I was a thirteen year old boy, I did hate for any-person calling me by such a word, with the intention of insulting me or not. However, I did not know the origin of the word until I was an adult. F-Y-I, Eddie G. was some-what correct but not etymologically exact. Arnold Schwarzenegger helped provide some information on the Tonight Show, back in the early nineties, when he defined his name as "Black Plow-man". You see, a negger is a plowman. Add a mis-pronunciation and you have nigger. The word does come from the Deutsche/German language. Until a person does add the incorrect, evil thoughts of the heart on the word, it is no different than calling some person a farmer. The slave supervisors did use it much in the U.S.A., which is the reason it did become embedded in the culture. I believe in using words correctly and not being lazy. I know I made errors in my life; but, I do desire perfection in communication, and I do[did] the effort for obtaining it. Using the word plowman is not wrong, when used properly. In quoting my Savior, "A servant who does remove his or her hands from the plow , while following me, and does turn back..." A good servant is a plowman[spiritually] of his or her own heart, until perfection.

RE: Getting closer and closer to true freedom
By IranTech on 6/22/2012 3:09:21 AM , Rating: 3
I think that I understand what you are saying, which is basically that no combination of alphabets has any particular meaning or weight until a group of people and then a society assigns a meaning to those combination of alphabets. That is true, but that is also trivial. Even when a meaning is assigned, a context is required to give utility to that meaning. For example imagine that you are in a room and you hear a single word: "water". What does that mean? Does it mean someone is dying from thirst and asking for water? Is it a scientist asserting that a certain liquid is water? Is it a cook saying the soup he is making needs more water?

Having read this report I still do not understand the court's ruling. Is it saying that certain words are bad but are allowed to be spoken on television, or is the court saying that no words are bad anymore and so every word can be spoken on television.

Anyway, the reality is that America and Europe are so far into this freedom thing that all this is irrelevant anyway. By refusing to vote on the constitutionality of the issue the American supreme court has in effect verified the triviality of such matters in today's America. Reading philosophy and ideology into it by the media and the public is the usual mandatory dance performed on these occasions, but what it boils down to is that the FCC is in effect has been deprived of a source of revenue and the mainstream broadcasters can now move into the pornography business legally. It will be soft porn in the beginning with hard core porn following in a few years. That is all.

RE: Getting closer and closer to true freedom
By Gurthang on 6/22/2012 9:31:44 AM , Rating: 2
The FCC never got revenue from enforcing the obcenity rules. It cost them more money than it ever made them. They make their money selling licenses to broadcast.

Broadcasters have been and will always be about making money as such they will cater to their audences. If the people they serve demand pornography they will broadcast it if the laws allow them. And to be quite frank repression of expression does not make it go away. SO my bringing it out into the open maybe for once we can start having adult conversations about our bodies and how we use them. And ultimatly we as a people can then make sure that these things are done in a healthier, more positive manner.

By IranTech on 6/22/2012 2:18:13 PM , Rating: 2
And ultimatly we as a people can then make sure that these things are done in a healthier, more positive manner.

That is the idea, but I think; and the American experience has proved me more right than wrong, that the opposing idea,the ultimate open-ended idea possessed with powers no science fiction writer, or any porn boss for that matter, can imagine will have the upper hand. I am of course talking about the absolute rule of "freedom of expression". There is no guaranty that in due time the American people will not find pornography somehow healthy and positive. Then again they may and wait for "round n". Yet again who would have thought a hundred years ago, that homosexuality would gain such traction in the American society. It is the kind of issue that can turn elections. An American presidential candidate has to be pro-homosexual to get elected or at least vague about it to the point of stupidity. Else he has no chance of getting elected. Doubtless there are more heterosexuals in America than homosexuals but the absolute rule of the idea of the freedom of expression leaves them no chance of voting for what they believe is right or wrong. Sooner or later all will succumb to the higher idea and little by little will change themselves. So saying:

And ultimatly we as a people can then make sure that these things are done in a healthier, more positive manner.

is just as good as saying today is today and tomorrow is tomorrow and so forth. Because who knows what will be considered "healthy and positive", tomorrow.

You cannot "make sure" about anything. Not in America!

RE: Getting closer and closer to true freedom
By Avatar28 on 6/22/2012 11:13:50 AM , Rating: 2
the mainstream broadcasters can now move into the pornography business legally. It will be soft porn in the beginning with hard core porn following in a few years. That is all.

I don't think you quite understand how the system works. The broadcasters are in it to make money. If they start broadcasting porn people get upset and start complaining to the advertisers and threatening boycotts. The advertisers start pulling their ads, the network stops making money. They stop making money, they go out of business. See how that works?

America is a LONG way from tolerating pornography, especially hardcore porn, being broadcast over the airwaves like that. Then again, if your definition of porn is boobies or a sex scene from an R-rated movie then you might well be in for a very bad time. In that case, may I suggest ABC Family and the Disney Channel?

RE: Getting closer and closer to true freedom
By IranTech on 6/22/2012 3:08:01 PM , Rating: 2
Then again, if your definition of porn is boobies or a sex scene from an R-rated movie then you might well be in for a very bad time.


I have had the good fortune of living through times that boobies was considered pornography. Crystal Gale once said in an interview that what we see today as music videos everyday was considered pornography when she started out. And that was about 7 years ago.

No, unfortunately nobody considers boobies as pornography these days.

I don't think you quite understand how the system works. The broadcasters are in it to make money. If they start broadcasting porn people get upset ...

Is that how it works? That is not how it works. This is how it works:

In the beginning, no "currently" mainstream broadcaster will broadcast porn. There will be new broadcasters, lean and mean, with soft porn content, mixed with serious news and quite intellectual commentary. Playboy magazine will be their model. It will be fun, informative and a good watch generally. Then the currently big broadcasters will start losing audiences. It will not be much. Just enough to get their attention. They will start with little news clips about their rivals and the "fleeting" success that they are enjoying. After a while they will lose more audience and eventually come clean. They will say that in order to get their lost audience back and keep the revenues vigorous enough to continue giving their original audience what they came here for in the first place, they will have to have a little soft porn too. Nothing big, just enough to go on. Then the real battle starts. The upstarts, by now quite wealthy and ready for a good fight, start the next stage. Tits are not something to brag about anymore. Let's have some A.. (I know. That "..", goes against the spirit of this discussion. But let us reminisce.). In the meantime the "freedom of expression" crowd and constitutional lawyers are unleashed to take care of rogues and loose ends. Sooner than you know, the main broadcaster is the upstart, and the current mainstream broadcasters are the former mainstream broadcasters, looking for truly conservative audiences. The kind that will not leave them for just some T & A, which is an understatement by then, anyway.

That is how it will happen. It has happened before, and it will happen again.

By Starcub on 6/22/2012 4:08:46 PM , Rating: 2
That is how it will happen. It has happened before, and it will happen again.

Don't think so. The SCOTUS ruling seems to indicate that all the FCC has to do is ensure that the rules are no enforced with bias. My guess is that the system will change only after someone thinks its important enough to form a PAC and gets enough people to empty their pocketbooks so that the requisite number of votes can be purchased. It seems to me like that is how homosexuals did it.

Do I get points for using the scientific term rather than slang which most homosexuals find offensive? Honestly, someone will always be offended by something, people need to use common (uncommon?) sense and just learn to be polite.

By kattanna on 6/21/2012 4:41:23 PM , Rating: 5
who cares about the language

more boobies FTW !!

By Jeffk464 on 6/21/2012 5:58:31 PM , Rating: 3
Finally the boobies can break free after years of being held down and bounced around by everyone.

RE: Getting closer and closer to true freedom
By Alexvrb on 6/21/2012 10:12:47 PM , Rating: 5
I'll accept your terms for complete freedom. Wild west here we come! Oh, or did you mean complete freedom except I can't kill people? Don't be a hypocrite, now. Don't let tradition stand in the way of random acts of murder. What, you don't like that? Well some people might not like certain language or nudity in public, but f*%k em, right! FREEDOM!

By Captain Orgazmo on 6/21/2012 10:42:33 PM , Rating: 4
Yep, no morals for society, screw marriage and the family unit, let children run wild like lord of the flies, everyone drug themselves into oblivion. See how long a society like that lasts.

Government is supposed to be an extension of society (the people), and society (through government) is supposed to decide upon certain rules that people must abide by in order for everyone to live in safety and happiness. Of course these rules can change over time, and there must be a balance between personal freedom and the law and order, but the abandonment of all rules is what is known as anarchy.

There has never been a civilization based on anarchy. Anarchy is by definition is the lack of a system, or societal structure. If you want to experience anarchy, walk into the middle of a riot, or take a trip to some central african hellhole or a country in the midst of a violent revolution. If that is your definition of freedom, then I'll stay over here in civilization, or what's left of it, and you can go rejoin the animal kingdom.

By Kyuu on 6/22/2012 7:01:17 PM , Rating: 2
Yeah, because boobies and curse words on TV will lead to the inevitable collapse of society. Everyone knows the Romans were doing alright until they started cursing and looking at boobs!

By deathwombat on 6/22/2012 8:22:02 AM , Rating: 2
Did I say I wanted a society with no rules? No, and in my second post I said, "Your rights extend until they infringe upon the rights of someone else." My definition of freedom isn't anarchy! There have to be rules, but limits should only be placed on your freedom to prevent someone from being harmed, not because someone might find your behavior objectionable, which will vary from person to person and change over time.

By sfi2k7 on 6/21/2012 10:48:22 PM , Rating: 1
Unacceptable: You are fucking beautiful and I love you with all my heart. Perfectly okay: I hate you and I hope your children die of cancer.

Either variation will not be spoken by a civilized person. You have no idea how much trouble this change will cause for parents. In real life these things matter. It is not about wishy washy idea of "freedom" these law are in place for a reason.

RE: Getting closer and closer to true freedom
By sfi2k7 on 6/21/12, Rating: -1
RE: Getting closer and closer to true freedom
By kerpwnt on 6/22/2012 12:54:13 AM , Rating: 3
What if the definition of the word changes as a result? You might find "fuck" offensive now, but in 100 years it might just be a another adverb.

If parents don't think their kids use it now, they should go to their nearest school at recess and hang out where the duty teachers can't hear the kids.

Language is changing. You don't have to love it, but you do have to live with it.

RE: Getting closer and closer to true freedom
By sfi2k7 on 6/22/2012 3:23:20 AM , Rating: 1
Language has nothing to with it. People have always invented a word to match their emotions, mostly outside of their language. No matter what era or civilization the cursing words has always been regarded as ignorant speech. In the past when sombody would hear the bad news they would said "oh God", and now? "oh shit".

Ignorance has permeated the society and we are so deep in f$@&$&@ing s@&$t that
We think of it as civility and try to connect to it to our most noble ideas like Freedom.

I have no plan to run like lammings to the top of the hill and jump.
I rather not join this march of "progress".

By jpo75 on 6/26/2012 11:37:01 AM , Rating: 2
gnorance has permeated the society and we are so deep in f$@&$&@ing s@&$t that We think of it as civility and try to connect to it to our most noble ideas like Freedom.

Thank you for providing a perfect example of what censorship accomplishes. You felt the need to censor yourself, yet you still felt the need to speak the words you yourself censored, and everyone who read your comment thought the exact words you were censoring, so what is the point of censoring in the first place, except for maybe to tell yourself that you are a better person because you did it.

By jeepga on 6/22/2012 9:35:21 AM , Rating: 3
I agree. And I'm a Christian and generally conservative. Our problem, and what I think scares traditionalists is that we cannot seem to expand the connecting tube of the hourglass without breaking it.

By Wolfpup on 6/22/2012 12:16:33 PM , Rating: 2
Wow, this is SO well written and reasoned! I'd give you a "worth reading" but you're at the max!

I've been pissed off for years that the FCC is allowed to censor this one thing-TV we get for free. I don't think anything should be censored, but to censor broadcast TV and not film, books, CDs, the Internet, cable... where on Earth do they get off doing that? They're trying to punish people who can't afford to pay for anything else?

By p05esto on 6/26/2012 10:17:03 PM , Rating: 2
Dude, you said that you support gay marriage, that's freaking gross. This is DailyTech, gay people don't go here and don't mix with tech at all, this is not the hangout for your type.

By savior0002 on 6/27/2012 6:40:30 AM , Rating: 2
I do think people should be more excellent and not lazy in their language uses; but, I do think the concept and application of vulgar laws are ridiculous. Think concerning what f-u-c-k and f-o-c-k are. A suction sound created sometimes in different situations including genital intercourse. Smuck, it could be argued, is closer in the genital intercourse event. Similar with s-m-a-c-k and p-o-w, they are approximately spelled representations of sounds. Shall they outlaw pow because a person is hurt usually in reference with this sound? No more 1960's BatMan, how vulgar!

By foolsgambit11 on 6/21/2012 4:35:13 PM , Rating: 2
At least, not for me. The decision is a procedural one based on the fact that FOX and ABC didn't have fair notice of a rule change at the FCC that allowed punishing brief nudity (in this case, a woman's buttocks for 7 seconds, and a brief flash of side-boob) or profanity. Now that all broadcasters have had fair notice of the rule change, the FCC could attempt to act on these new (as of 2004) restrictions. Yes, the lower court ruling did find that the FCC rule was unconstitutional due to difficulties in enforcement, but the Supreme Court declined to comment on that part of their decision, restricting their decision solely to the issue of notice.

In other words, don't expect things to change, at least until a test case comes up through the system under the current rules. And if the current regulations are deemed unconstitutional at that time, the FCC can go back to an "absolutely no nudity exposing areas A, B, and C, and absolutely no use of the words X, Y, and Z." The issue with the current rules isn't the prohibitions, but only the vagueness of those prohibitions.

By Silvio on 6/21/2012 4:43:11 PM , Rating: 4
This is precisely it. The Supreme Court didn't "axe" any rules put in place by the FCC. They ruled on these two instances. The headline is pure hype and the article is full of speculation.

By magreen on 6/21/2012 5:25:03 PM , Rating: 4
I expect nothing more from Mr. Mick.

By foolsgambit11 on 6/21/2012 7:14:59 PM , Rating: 2
Okay, I understand that you can't both comment and rate on the same article, but I hope somebody will explain why they felt my comment wasn't worth reading. I'd like to be able to present my point of view on things in a way that people find worth reading, so any critique is valuable - stylistic, tonal, content, whatever.

By Scratches16 on 6/22/2012 6:31:34 AM , Rating: 2
It's factual and rationally framed. :P

By jwcalla on 6/21/12, Rating: 0
RE: huh?
By leviathan05 on 6/21/2012 2:47:22 PM , Rating: 5
Only a very large percentage of them.

RE: huh?
By chµck on 6/21/2012 4:20:10 PM , Rating: 2
hurr durr torrents ftw!!1!1one12

Obscenities are real
By melgross on 6/21/2012 6:38:34 PM , Rating: 2
Guys, we all know that obscenities exist. We even know what they are. Let's not pretend that we don't.

It's not whether obscenities are real or not, it's whether they should be allowed. I've always felt that the government shouldn't be involved in this. The companies, whether they are book publishers, music publishers, broadcasters, or,whatever, should decide what they are going to publish.

So there should be warnings when something has explicit content of one kind or another. HBO does this, so does the SiFi channel with the Lost Girl, at least. Give us a chance to decide whether we want to watch or not.

And perhaps, we can decide whether or not our children should.

RE: Obscenities are real
By curtisfong on 6/21/2012 6:51:29 PM , Rating: 2
We don't need additional warnings. We have v-chip (since 2000).

RE: Obscenities are real
By Alexvrb on 6/21/2012 10:07:50 PM , Rating: 2
Yeah except it is crap and nobody uses it. If it had more advanced content filtering (based on better labeling than we currently use for programming), and good defaults... then MAYBE it would be worth a damn.

I don't believe no one said it.
By kirshamor on 6/21/2012 4:55:52 PM , Rating: 2
"shit, piss, cock, cunt, cocksucker, motherfucker, tits"
George Carlin

By rrburton on 6/22/2012 7:09:41 AM , Rating: 2
Correct quote

"... You know the 7, don't you, that you can't say on television?
"Shit, Piss, Fuck, Cunt, CockSucker, MotherFucker, and Tits"
Those are the heavy seven. Those are the ones that'll infect your soul,
curve your spine, and keep the country from winning the war...."

I'm not surprised
By Lord_Conrad on 6/21/2012 8:43:51 PM , Rating: 2
Nothing surprising about this ruling.

Television, like the rest of society, is heading straight down the toilet.

RE: I'm not surprised
By Kyuu on 6/22/2012 7:04:39 PM , Rating: 2
What is it about curse words and boobies that frighten you people so?

By Randomblame on 6/21/2012 4:00:30 PM , Rating: 2
oh FCC you are so full of mekrob sounds like a bunch of people have sand in their vaginas too

read this as "anti-obesity laws"
By mattclary on 6/21/2012 4:27:08 PM , Rating: 2
The U.S. Federal Communications Commission and its enforcement of anti-obscenity laws

Only for FOX
By DT_Reader on 6/21/12, Rating: 0
RE: Only for FOX
By KCjoker on 6/21/2012 6:09:58 PM , Rating: 2
ABC was part of the try again.

By overlandpark4me on 6/21/2012 7:52:51 PM , Rating: 2
ruling. Fines aside, they can always pull their license or take other actions if they choose....

Matthew 15:11
By jackpro on 6/22/2012 4:54:18 AM , Rating: 2
What goes into a man's mouth does not make him 'unclean,' but what comes out of his mouth, that is what makes him 'unclean.'"

can u dig it?

By highlander2107 on 6/23/2012 3:55:38 AM , Rating: 2
Another junk Jason Mick article.

The "Extra Note" says it all.

Common sense...
By johnsmith9875 on 6/26/2012 5:13:06 PM , Rating: 2
Why not a little bit of common sense in TV programming. I really like shows such as "Kitchen Nightmares" or "Top Chef" but I can't STAND the fact the chefs are always swearing. Its just distracting and un-necessary. Can't they coach these people to clean up their mouths, its a cooking show!

Now nudity, well who cares, everything goes. Nude chefs is fine by me.

To the FCC...
By Lazlo Panaflex on 6/21/2012 2:33:04 PM , Rating: 1
Fuck YOU!




By CynicalNsomniac on 6/22/2012 5:07:22 AM , Rating: 1
Wait wait wait, is this for real? Like there can actually be nudity and swearing on American TV? There's no extra steps or anything they have to go through to make it law? We can show tits and say fuck on the air now?

State Laws
By ShaolinSoccer on 6/21/12, Rating: -1
RE: State Laws
By JasonMick on 6/21/2012 2:04:58 PM , Rating: 5
I for one don't want my kids seeing/hearing obscene material on TV.
Maybe you should pre-record TV and preview it before you show it to your kids then?

Personally I find parents calling for obscenity censorship lazy.

If a cop on CSI @ 8 pm says "I don't need this shit" I don't see how that is inappropriate. Parents shouldn't be allowing their 5 or 6 years olds to tune in to CSI in the first place!

Censorship does not fix lazy parenting. Your kids will be exposed to profanity regardless of whether TV exposes them to it or not. It's up to the parent to teach their children not to overuse and abuse this facet of the English language.

RE: State Laws
By Brandon Hill on 6/21/2012 2:12:02 PM , Rating: 5
Amen, brotha. As George Carlin said, "The Pussification of America"

Parents, take responsibility. You don't need the FCC to do YOUR JOB for you.

RE: State Laws
By AssBall on 6/21/2012 2:38:40 PM , Rating: 3
The whole concept of "Bad Words" kinda doesn't work with our first amendment. We made most of them up in the last 150 years to be "bad". Any court that holds this kind of legislation up is violating that amendment.

RE: State Laws
By WalksTheWalk on 6/21/2012 3:02:19 PM , Rating: 2
Television has a fully-fledged ratings system that can be controlled on many cable boxes and TV sets now.

It's about time I can watch Blazing Saddles on regular TV without having the word "Shtup" be changed to "Shhhh".

Gabby can finally be heard:

RE: State Laws
By gnac on 6/21/2012 3:58:11 PM , Rating: 2
Does that apply to words that can be construed to be "hate speech" too?

RE: State Laws
By Makaveli on 6/21/2012 4:58:34 PM , Rating: 2
This is the first time I think i've seen a poster get owned by both jason and brandon! I totally agree with them both.

I think it time that guy work on his parenting skills. Wait till one of your kids friends brings a playboy mag to school o the horror.... lol.

RE: State Laws
By ShaolinSoccer on 6/22/2012 12:27:52 AM , Rating: 2
Allowing every public channel to be as obscene as they want to be with no consequences is one more step closer to an idiocracy...

RE: State Laws
By jackpro on 6/22/2012 5:00:37 AM , Rating: 1
or when kids search on google for a black pussy

RE: State Laws
By AssBall on 6/22/2012 11:37:17 AM , Rating: 5
Since we are all high on the topic of free speech and censorship... Maybe DailyTech can remove the autodownrating for certain words...


RE: State Laws
By Black1969ta on 6/21/2012 2:28:58 PM , Rating: 2
Censorship of these words remind me of an associate pastor from when I was young.
One day his son (8y/o)says, "Crap!"
and the pastor spanks him telling him that crap is the same as Sh1t.
Where does censorship end?
What is to says that if we eliminated the "Cuss" words that some zealot would not make some other word into a neo-"Cuss" words. Quite frankly, there is nothing on skinimax that tops what is discussed on elementary playground.

RE: State Laws
By RjBass on 6/21/2012 3:24:56 PM , Rating: 3
Like how Battlestar Gallactica they changed *uck to Frak? It was weird at first but after a few episodes i got very used to it and understood it's meaning in every saying.

RE: State Laws
By bighairycamel on 6/21/2012 6:03:26 PM , Rating: 2
I'm gettin' tired of these monkey fightin' snakes on this monday friday plane! (Not making this up sadly)

RE: State Laws
By BugblatterIII on 6/21/2012 8:16:37 PM , Rating: 2
Years ago a schoolfriend of mine had a Saturday job and her boss told her off for saying "Sugar" because it was a replacement for "Shit".

I advised her not to let him make the tea...

RE: State Laws
By gnac on 6/21/2012 3:57:03 PM , Rating: 2
I agree many parents are lazy.

So now we can use the F word - even if it offends. It should only be a matter of time until we can use the N word -even though it offends.

RE: State Laws
By Cheesew1z69 on 6/21/2012 6:31:06 PM , Rating: 1
Except, fuck is not used in a racist context. The other is, so IMO, they aren't even in the same league.

RE: State Laws
By Dr of crap on 6/22/2012 12:37:43 PM , Rating: 2
Always bring the race card out.

It ONLY offends if you LET it. Stop objecting to the word and it looses it's power!

I'm part Polish. I laugh at them and tell Polish jokes, and am not offended by them. Yet if you make an Islamic joke the world crashes down on you.

See the difference?

RE: State Laws
By tjcinnamon on 6/21/2012 4:08:14 PM , Rating: 1
Exactly, they have that blocking shit (parental controls) that lets you block TV shows age-inappropriate.

RE: State Laws
By wiz220 on 6/21/2012 4:13:05 PM , Rating: 2
No kidding, there so many methods to restrict content by the rating that it makes censorship unnecessary for all but the laziest of "concerned" parents.

RE: State Laws
By INeedCache on 6/22/2012 10:25:15 AM , Rating: 3
Because they'll be exposed to obscenities regardless, that makes allowing them on television OK? I'm sure you'll apply that same logic (actually, illogic) to every facet of your life, won't you? Because they will be exposed to many other rather unsavory things in life outside the home that we cannot prevent, why not just bring them in the home? And you call parents wanting censorship lazy? I am not debating the censorship or lack thereof now with you. I take issue with your rationalization of it, which is quite poor, at that. There are already way too many potty-mouthed little kids walking around (and yes, many despite having conscientious parents), because we have so many potty-mouthed adults (a lot of them appear to have posted here), now there will simply be more. It's too bad that so many people fail to look beyond the nose on their face in such matters. There are consequences for every action. Too bad when you're young and naive you fail to see them. Rate me down and call me whatever you wish. But that won't change what will happen down the road. You'll see.

RE: State Laws
By 3DoubleD on 6/21/2012 2:21:23 PM , Rating: 3
A few quick points here:

- by the time I was 8, I could list off just about every swear word there was. I hadn't heard them on TV and I certainly didn't understand what many of them meant, but because they were so strictly "forbidden" it was "cool" to say them amongst friends. This however turned into it's own problem as many of these words were uttered towards the females of the class... news of which made it to their parents and a rash of suspensions for sexual harassment followed (fortunately I was smart enough not to be one of them). This was particularly ridiculous since the meaning of many of these words were beyond the understanding of those speaking them, especially when no adult took the time to properly explain why they were not to be said. IMO, this being the true failure of the entire story. Moral of the story, making words forbidden and simply not talking about them to your children is a terrible and ineffective strategy.

- Secondly, if you think your children are too young to hear these words, I'd suggest that you not let them watch TV unsupervised in the first place. My own parents accomplished this before the age of parental controls by simply not allowing me to watch TV at all during the weekdays and being within earshot when I did on the weekend.

- Americans (and Canadians) are inexplicably hung up on profanity. For countries who like to say they hold free speech as an absolute right, this is pretty ridiculous. The more profanity is restricted, the more attractive it is to both entertainers and audiences. How prudes everywhere still haven't figured this out after 100 years I'll never understand!

RE: State Laws
By Reclaimer77 on 6/21/2012 3:07:15 PM , Rating: 1
- Americans (and Canadians) are inexplicably hung up on profanity.

That's just the thing, we're not. The very small vocal minority has you believing this, but it's simply not the case. Those "advocacy" groups we see flapping their gums about this or that are maybe made up of only 20-50 people. Know what the fuck I'm saying? :P

I'm thrilled about this ruling. And it looks like Obamacare is going to be struck down too! Christmas coming early. America 2, Big Government 0.

RE: State Laws
By DT_Reader on 6/21/2012 4:41:27 PM , Rating: 3
If they strike down the Heritage Health Plan (its original name, when it was first proposed by the Heritage Foundation as an alternative to Clinton's proposals) then look for even "bigger" government in the form of the single payer system enjoyed by virtually the entire rest of the world. You know, the system that saves EVERYONE money and provides BETTER health care to all but the 1% (who are still free to pay whatever they want on the private market). Ask the most reactionary conservatives in Europe if they want their socialist health care to go away and they'll think you're nuts for asking - and they're right! With single payer, small businesses can launch and grow without fear of health costs bankrupting them. The GOP only opposes it because it was proposed by the Democrats. But then, all they do is opposed ideas proposed by the Democrats.

RE: State Laws
By praktik on 6/21/2012 3:15:02 PM , Rating: 2
The more profanity is restricted, the more attractive it is to both entertainers and audiences.

But of course this lesson does not apply to drugs and alcohol! ;)

RE: State Laws
By heffeque on 6/21/2012 3:33:32 PM , Rating: 3
For me, being half from the US and half from Spain, it has always baffled me how ridiculous people in the States react to swearwords and nudity.

Check out these Spanish commercials on TVE from 1992:
( Boobs at 1:45 , 3:17 and 4:10 )

TVE is the big national public TV channel, the Spanish equivalent of UK's BBC.

Yes, boobs weren't a problem if there were no sexual connotations.
Yes, that's on normal viewing time, when kids also watch TV.
And no, swearwords aren't censured out at all. No beeps or stuff like that.

If you don't want your kids to hear swearwords or watch sex scenes, just don't let them watch movies that contain them.

Parenting: YOU do it, don't tell the government to do it for you.

PD: I still don't know why nipples are censured in the States. Boobs don't kill anyone and aren't only made for sex. Men's boobs aren't censured so... why are women's boobs censured. That's just sexist and disturbing.

RE: State Laws
By ATrigo on 6/21/2012 6:59:16 PM , Rating: 2
Oh yes, Spanish is such a rich language... and among all its niceties, it offers a very wide and colorful palette for swearing. I love it!!

RE: State Laws
By semiconshawn on 6/21/2012 2:48:05 PM , Rating: 2
I for one don't want my kids seeing/hearing obscene material on TV.

Then turn it off. Its called parenting and its not the governments job.

RE: State Laws
By Ammohunt on 6/21/2012 3:29:57 PM , Rating: 2
Its not the governments job to feed you either but they do with welfare. Lets get welfare ruled unconstitutional as well.

RE: State Laws
By praktik on 6/21/2012 3:42:48 PM , Rating: 2
In Libertopia, car drives you!

RE: State Laws
By Ammohunt on 6/21/2012 5:24:43 PM , Rating: 2
my advice to you is pass the Dutchie..when it comes back around yell GOOSE!

RE: State Laws
By heffeque on 6/21/2012 3:50:26 PM , Rating: 2
You did that wrong.

Today's compulsory censorship equals having compulsory welfare.

He's saying that he wants the right to watch TV without censorship.

RE: State Laws
By Ammohunt on 6/21/2012 5:18:51 PM , Rating: 2
Last time i checked taxes is compulsory i have no choice but to provide welfare via the government proxy to lazy Government mooches.

RE: State Laws
By deathwombat on 6/21/2012 3:58:14 PM , Rating: 2
Yeah, that's not quite how rights work. You have a right to do anything that you aren't explicitly forbidden to do. The government is explicitly forbidden to infringe upon freedom of speech and freedom of the press, even if people want the government to take over their parental responsibility for monitoring what their children watch on TV.

The government isn't, on the other hand, explicitly forbidden from helping people. As a voter, you're welcome to vote for a candidate who promises to repeal welfare and cancel foreign aid, but you'd have a much harder time challenging either of those programs in court.

RE: State Laws
By Ammohunt on 6/21/2012 3:26:58 PM , Rating: 2
I believe as others that the first Amendment was put in to specifically protect offensive speech since non-offensive speech would not be objected to. I don't care about profanity as in bad words my kids hear enough from me i only caution them not to direct it at people or use it around people that may be offended; i want them to learn that power is given to words only by those that allow word to have power over them.

As far as other adult topics that kids are not wired to handle until later ages or ones i do not want them de-sensitized to such as the value of life or base violence i expect common day time programming to conform with societal norms e.g. you don't see people in real life screwing in the park or walking around in the buff so i don't want to see that on TV when my kids could inadvertently be exposed to it.

of course the point may be moot since recently we are moving to on-demand entertainment and abandoning the DirectTV entertainment hose.

RE: State Laws
By JediJeb on 6/21/2012 5:07:28 PM , Rating: 2
I believe as others that the first Amendment was put in to specifically protect offensive speech since non-offensive speech would not be objected to.

If you study history the First Amendment was put in to specifically protect speech that might effect the government, not be offensive. Before the Revolutionary War writers like Thomas Payne could be imprisoned for their writings denouncing the British government or advocating revolution. The founding fathers put the first amendment in to protect those type of writings should the government ever become something that oppressed the citizens again. There were laws on the books even back then that would fine you for using profanity and those were never challenged using a first amendment challenge, so even everyday society knew the limits of what it meant back then.

RE: State Laws
By Ammohunt on 6/21/2012 5:15:19 PM , Rating: 2
Before the Revolutionary War writers like Thomas Payne could be imprisoned for their writings denouncing the British government or advocating revolution.

because such writings at that time were deemed offensive...

RE: State Laws
By JediJeb on 6/21/2012 6:01:14 PM , Rating: 2
Offensive only to the government in power, not the public at large. The Constitution was put in place to protect and advocate the will of the people at large, not the few in government, though that is being usurped by recent government leaders in a slow and methodical way. Like the frog in boiling water example, if they make the changes slow enough we the public are less likely to notice and react, until it is too late.

RE: State Laws
By cigar3tte on 6/21/2012 3:36:25 PM , Rating: 1
If your kids don't learn profanities from TV, they'll learn them elsewhere. Make sure they learn them from you first instead of elsewhere, and you'll have less of a problem.

RE: State Laws
By Misty Dingos on 6/21/2012 3:48:24 PM , Rating: 3
Hey Hey Hey! Be nice everyone! ShaolinSoccer is simply expressing a heart felt opinion. Trying to protect one's offspring is a time honored tradition since the dawn of mankind.

I am a nice guy and I like to help people out, so let me help you out with what this means. It means that the FCC will have to revert to the tenets of its original purpose. Which was to manage the use of the electromagnetic spectrum within the boundaries of the Good Ole US of A to the benefit of the citizens therein. Now that parenting will not be a task for the Federal Communications Commission, parenting will have to revert to those who job it was originally. The parents. Since you are one half of the parenting team it will be up and your significant other to decide and enforce what television you wish your spawn to ingest into their mush filled craniums.

Now as for your desire that the local state authorities to enforce decency standards upon your local television station affiliates. As each city has the right to decide decency standards you may have luck if you are in Amish country but if you live in well pretty much everywhere else you will be out of luck because most people aren't offended by a nipple (male or female), a saucy word or the good Lord save us, an off color joke. Oh you will also find the reality that the majority decides what is naughty or nice problematic. This was not the case with the FCC. A unelected commission that could simple rule by fiat with no regard to the reality of the day and consistently leaned to the whining offended minority.

So there you go ShaolinSoccer, now you know what you are up against. My ardent suggestion is that you move to one of the following countries, Saudi Arabia, China or Cuba. These are all countries that practice censorship. Which is really what you want.

RE: State Laws
By Ristogod on 6/21/12, Rating: 0
RE: State Laws
By kingmotley on 6/21/2012 4:33:19 PM , Rating: 1
The line is drawn. And it's way the hell over <--- there. If you are afraid of your kids hearing "bad" words, feel free to lock them up in the closet. You are the problem. Stop feeding into the stupid notion that some words are "bad" while some words are "ok". The words aren't bad, and focus your misguided ideas into teaching your kids right from wrong. What words are used to convey the idea is meaningless. Concentrate on the idea itself.

TV already has content ratings, and I do believe every TV has the so called "V-chip". Feel free to block any broadcasts that deviate from your "G" rating. Hope you don't like to watch the news.

"I f***ing cannot play Halo 2 multiplayer. I cannot do it." -- Bungie Technical Lead Chris Butcher

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