by Mike Masnick

Filed Under:
free speech, indecency, legality, stuart benjamin


FCC Hires Law Professor Who Believes Broadcast Indecency Laws Are Unconstitutional

from the that-seems-like-a-good-thing dept

There are many people out there who are greatly troubled by the way the FCC "enforces" efforts against broadcast indecency -- with some even questioning whether or not it's even constitutional for the FCC to act as a public arbiter of indecency. It looks like the FCC has just hired one such person, in the form of Duke telco law professor Stuart Benjamin. Since I consider myself among those who question how indecency fines can fit with a First Amendment, this seems like a good thing -- but the reporting on it, at the link above, only focuses on the complaints about this hire. But the complaint comes from the Parents Television Council, whose main claim to fame is flooding the FCC with bogus complaints about "indecent" programming from people who didn't even see whatever it is they're complaining about. So you can understand why they might complain. If they lose the ability to create moral panics, it's harder to keep going.

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  1. identicon
    Anonymouse Coward, 17 Dec 2009 @ 8:44am

    How do I impose my standards on a live event?

    I'm all for removing things from the guv'ments greedy paws, but how do I, a concerned parent, censor a "live" event once we remove decency guidelines?

    Say I want to sit down with my 13 year-old daughter and watch the AMA awards. Say I don't feel its appropriate for my 13YO to view simulated sex acts. Or say we are watching the Super Bowl halftime show because dad's a football nut and I really don't want her to see Janet Jackson's pierced nipple (yes, I know in real time you could barely see anything). Once the guidelines are gone, anything will be fair game.

    This is not a troll question, but legitimately, how do I as a parent, impose "my" standards on these events when there are no guidelines? Sure I can Tivo them. How many people are going to Tivo every live event? At that point advertising dollars shrink as more "concerned" parents have to Tivo to protect their kids. Once Tivo'd, I'm skipping every commercial there is.

    At least with recorded material, I can see the rating before hand and make appropriate choices. Or even set the TV to block inappropriate material.

    I'm all for putting choice back in the hands of the consumer, but at least give me some tools to help me where I don't have to watch every single live event that comes on TV just because my daughter might be in the room!

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