On July 12, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals in New York City warmly offered the TV networks exactly what they wanted: the shredding of the FCC's lamely enforced rules against broadcast indecency. As of now, the network stars can swear at will in front of impressionable children. These judges did not rule narrowly on the focus of the case -- "fleeting expletives" that networks aired unintentionally. They ruled broadly in favor of all expletives.
There's no other way to say this. The ruling is idiocy.
Judge Rosemary Pooler, writing for a unanimous three-judge panel, concluded the FCC's prohibitions against F-bombs and S-words are somehow "unconstitutionally vague." She claimed they weren't suggesting it was impossible for the FCC to construct a constitutional decency regime. But the decision made it clear these judges don't think the FCC should even bother.
"The observation that people will always find a way to subvert censorship laws may expose a certain futility in the FCC's crusade against indecent speech," Pooler wrote. Note the wording. "Censorship laws." "Crusade." It is precisely the language of Hollywood lobbyists.
Pooler, a Bill Clinton appointee who ran for Congress as a liberal Democrat and lost in both 1986 and 1988, concluded the judicial opinion by actually trying to paint artistic gloss and literary glitter on profanity. She declared the FCC "chills a vast amount of protected speech dealing with some of the most important and universal themes in art and literature." How can we dress up the F-bomb in artistic terms? Here's how: "Sex and the magnetic power of sexual attraction are surely among the most predominant themes in the study of humanity since the Trojan War." How do we excuse the S-word? I am not making this up: "The digestive system and excretion are also important areas of human attention."
The judges ruled with lingo straight from the Hollywood playbook. When the Supreme Court allowed decency enforcement in 1978, it was in the prehistoric era of technology. The Internet was in its infancy and people didn't watch videos on laptops or mobile phones. New technology (and especially the ascent and even equivalency of cable TV) therefore makes decency enforcement as pointlessly passe as polyester leisure suits.
The more cars we put on the road, the more driving infractions we have. Should speeding laws be banned?