Friday, June 08, 2007

A court ruling that sends a wrong signal

According to Associated Press, a United States federal appeals court said a new federal policy against accidentally aired profanities on TV and radio was invalid, noting that vulgar language had become so common that even President Bush has been heard using expletives.

The court tossed out an indecency ruling against Rupert Murdoch's Fox television network yesterday and broadly questioned whether the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has the right to police the airwaves for offensive language.

The ruling is a rebuke to the FCC and a victory for television networks, which in recent years have pushed back against the FCC's crackdown on indecency.

The court agreed with the networks' defense, in part, that if George Bush and Dick Cheney can get away with saying no-no words, then why shouldn't Cher, Nicole Richie, and the rest of us?

Said the court: Similarly, as NBC illustrates in its brief, in recent times even the top leaders of our government have used variants of these expletives in a manner that no reasonable person would believe referenced "sexual or excretory organs or activities." . . . (citing President Bush's remark to British Prime Minister Tony Blair that the United Nations needed to "get Syria to get Hezbollah to stop doing this shit" and Vice President Cheney's widely-reported "Fuck yourself" comment to Senator Patrick Leahy on the floor of the U.S. Senate).

The court ruling is a win for the American First Amendment to the United States Constitution that prohibits any laws by the federal legislature from infringing on the freedom of speech and freedom of press. So this is a clear win for freedom.

It, however, sets a bad example to fringe groups within society who think that it is OK to use vulgar language. It also makes it more difficult for the FCC to impose fines for the use of indecent language.

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