The Lincoln Plawg - the blog with footnotes
Wednesday, March 24, 2004
The FCC and profanity: another LOTR, perhaps
The most far-reaching of the flurry of FCC decisions released last week (my piece of March 19) is likely to be its revival as a crime for which action will in future be taken against the use of profane material by broadcasters (18 USC 1464).
I'm starting at the back of the grid here: while I work my way to the front (ha!), Corante continues its exploration of this perplexing issue, the first instalment of which I noted in the March 19 piece.
Although the extent to which profane imports a prohibition over language specifically offensive to religion is not clear - the 1931 case of Duncan v US is cited to show just how un-current an idea that is - the key area for FCC action is likely to be hate speech.
What is needed is a test case: some remark that is not indecent. So, the piece says,
Phrases like "shit-eating nigger" don't count because "shit-eating" obviously refers to excretory activities. Phrases like "dumb, stupid nigger," however, might make appropriate test cases.
(Perhaps the station might run a competition to choose exactly to whom the phrase should refer!)
I suspect that the man of the hour, Howard Stern, has his mind set on a smooth transition to satellite. Can't surely be any shortage of wannabes, can there?
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