The Supreme Court has taken up the case of FCC vs. Fox Television Stations, the bizarre case in which Fox and other broadcast TV networks have argued that "fleeting" profanities are mere accidents that should not be punished with fines. While it's laudable that the nation's top court would take up the matter, it's beyond outrageous that what Hollywood really wants -- and, in a cowardly way, is refusing to declare publicly -- is the "right" to bombard your living room, and your children, with obscenities.
The high court is taking up a decision last summer by the Manhattan-based Second Circuit Court of Appeals that sided with Hollywood and told the Federal Communications Commission that their profanity rules were "arbitrary and capricious." Solicitor General Paul Clement argued persuasively to the Supreme Court that the FCC has "hundreds of thousands of complaints" from outraged citizens regarding the broadcast of expletives. Clement said it left the agency "accountable for the coarsening of the airwaves while simultaneously denying it effective tools to address the problem."
For their part, Hollywood's paladins of permissiveness are claiming to be delighted that the Supreme Court is taking the case. In a statement, Fox Television said it was happy to have "the opportunity to argue that the FCC's expanded enforcement of the indecency law is unconstitutional in today's diverse media marketplace where parents have access to a variety of tools to monitor their children's television viewing."
They will continue to argue that the concept of obscenity has been abolished by the V-chip, an intellectually dishonest position if ever there was one. Never mind that, as has been proven numerous times already, the V-chip is a useless proposition when it depends on an industry-run ratings system that is at best flawed and at worst deliberately cooked, oftentimes refusing to include the right content descriptors to make the much-ignored device actually do its job. But even if the V-chip worked to perfection, it would still be useless in catching fleeting profanities of the unscripted sort. Hollywood knows this, just as Hollywood knows that if it wanted to avoid the problem altogether, it would simply employ a delay switch to bleep out unscripted obscenities.
The point is: Hollywood wants to air them. To them, it's all a waste of money to spare the benighted rabble in the little villages who haven't learned to stop worrying and love the F-bomb.
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