Your Revolution

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Two years ago, the Federal Communications Commission hit the cash-strapped noncommercial Oregon station KBOO with a $7,000 fine. Its crime: playing Sarah Jones' "Your Revolution," a sexually explicit slap at hip hop misogyny. Now the commission has rescinded the fine. "While this was a very close case," David Solomon of the Enforcement Bureau told Radio and Records, "we now conclude that the broadcast was not indecent because, on balance and in context, the sexual descriptions in the song are not sufficiently graphic to warrant sanction."

On one level, this is a victory for free speech: A radio station will not be fined for merely playing a song, and an FCC that permits far more graphic raps to be broadcast has removed itself from the embarrassing position of declaring an attack on those records too seamy to air. On another level, though, we still have the ugly spectacle—one might even call it indecent—of a small group of bureaucrats weighing the social merit of a recording, checking it against their indecency tallysheet, and ruling on whether it's suitable for the tender ears of Portland, Oregon. After four decades of beating back censorship, it's hard to believe that this unconstitutional and anachronistic process has survived.

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  1. Oregon : America’s unemployed brother-in-law

  2. Brad,
    You got your head buried in a very dark place if you think the Repubs have any less love of a bigger more oppressive Gov. than the Dems. Perhaps you are harking back to the days when the Dems. Were a congressional majority and Repub. candidates used to spew rhetoric about smaller Gov. to get elected. It was so popular that the Dems. started spewing it themselves (remember “the days of big government are over”) but every single member of government who claims there is ANY power they wouldn’t grab hold of with both hands given half a chance is lying.

  3. Christopher, I thought people like you all castrated themselves and went away after the Hale Bopp made its rotation?

    Our country has a religious heritage, but also a separation of church and state. It’s a constantly changing, as well as a difficult, balance to maintain. But your post is flat out wrong to think the Framers were a bunch of atheists or didn’t want God to have any place in the public forum. Dude: “and that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights” and all that jazz. Your mind is made up so there’s no point in trotting out the vast evidence of our framers’ Godly heritage.

    I actually came here to comment about the FCC in general. I don’t know anything about the facts of this particular Oregon case. But I will say in general that the radio stations have gotten filthy in my market (KC) and I wish the FCC would take more seriously its duty to make our public airwaves a little cleaner. I am only 27, but in my lifetime I know that “ass” “crap” “god damn” “sucks” and a lot of other naughty words were never on the radio before, but now they’re bandied about over and over again on every irritating morning DJ show. And it’s just more and more sex talk all the time. The DJs are obviously a bunch of idiots in my market at least, and since radio is the same wherever you go now, they’re probably idiots everywhere and say the same infantile nasty things everywhere. I say to them, there is a big difference between being controversial and being provocative. A neanderthal DJ can create controversy by saying “ass,” but that’s really not all that provacative.

    Ah, that’s enough.

  4. Abu, did your radio come with an “On/Off” switch or button? If not, you may want to contact the manufacturer.

  5. Abu,
    The point about secular humanism is, the duty of citizens is not the duty of the faithful, that there is a ‘separation between church and state’ and that the state exists for the benefit of the people. People who have a right to freedom of religion, even heathens. The faith held by the founding fathers that created such a state is not relevant.

    And if you don’t like the foul mouthed DJs on your local radio station… LISTEN TO SOMETHING ELSE! You don’t need a federal agency to turn that dial for you. Do you?

  6. Abu, I agree with the first part of your post, but deciding what’s allowed on the airwaves is not the business of the government. It’s the job of the listeners to decidee what is worthy and not worthy of listening to.

  7. Abu, I’ll agree with you that radio DJs are burying themselves in a flurry of scatological references, but you can just turn the radio to another station (try NPR!). Actually, you sound like a future Satellite Radio customer.

  8. I agree with everything you 4 posters said in response to Abu, except for NPR???!

    Give me a break, there’s no reason the taxpayers should have to support a radio station (especially one that sucks (their news – not the music), but heck, even one that doesn’t suck).

    I’m at the point now where if I even overhear that song at the beginning of All Things Considered, I start going into seizures and vomiting ensues.

    OK, I didn’t make that up – it’s from Sienfeld.

  9. While it makes a nice pithy quote, it’s not a simple issue of turning my radio off, or changing the station. The fact is the airwaves have been regarded as a public resource and a government agency, FCC, is entrusted with licensing and enforcing (some) regulations over radio stations. I’m sure a lot of you feel that the public resource concept is now outdated or perhaps was never correct. Maybe you’re right.
    But all I’m saying is, the stations are filthy and why can’t the FCC do something about it? Will the 1st amendment wither away and die if the FCC promulgates a rule saying “no more ‘ass’ ‘sucks’ or ‘bitch’ on your radio shows during certain times of the day when children listen”? I don’t think so.

    Any reasonable person will readily admit how much nastier the radio is now than even 5 or 10 years ago. I don’t think it makes me a theocrat for being a little concerned about just how rapidly the radio has deteriorated. In my lifetime I have noticed it and I am only 27! (and don’t even get me started on the alcohol commercials or the NFL cheerleaders, who will, by the way, be wearing thongs and pasties by 2005 for at least some teams, I guaran-damn-tee you)

    The point about satellite radio is a good one. I’ll have to check it out. Especially if the DJs don’t talk over the music.

  10. Abu,
    “?it’s not a simple issue of turning my radio off, or changing the station.”
    YES IT IS! It is just that fucking simple.

    “I’m sure a lot of you feel that the public resource concept is now outdated or perhaps was never correct. ”
    PERHAPS?

    “Will the 1st amendment wither away and die if the FCC promulgates a rule saying “no more ‘ass’ ‘sucks’ or ‘bitch’ on your radio shows during certain times of the day when children listen”? I don’t think so.”
    It would be more accurate to simply state that you don’t think PERIOD. The FCC is anathema to the fist amendment. It is nothing other than instrument of power wielded by the establishment, oppressing the voice of the people. Jesse has done an excellent job of documenting how the FCC and other powerful institutions have conspired to keep anti-establishment voices from being heard. You may notice it is a running theme amongst his posts.

    It’s just a matter of time before the feds destroy satellite radio. Just like they did with internet radio.

    One more thing, I’d make a crack about you making thong wearing cheerleaders sound like a bad thing, only I agree with you, our culture is awash in vulgarity and I find it depressing and tiresome. But the point is, that what depresses me is the prominence of lowbrow culture, that it is so commercially successful says something the bulk of the population. But I don’t let it suck me down with it, I choose my own reading, listening, and viewing material. Being able to do so is VERY important to me and I realize that in order for me to have access to the things that I like, I have to allow others their pleasures. It is NOT o.k. for the government to censor someone else just because I don’t like what he’s saying. Freedom works for everyone, the popularity of something you find repugnant is not well addressed by tyranny.

  11. Mr Hamza, you said “Our country has a religious heritage, but also a separation of church and state. It’s a constantly changing, as well as a difficult, balance to maintain. But your post is flat out wrong to think the Framers were a bunch of atheists or didn’t want God to have any place in the public forum. Dude: “and that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights” and all that jazz. Your mind is made up so there’s no point in trotting out the vast evidence of our framers’ Godly heritage”

    This attributes a lot of things to me THAT I DID NOT SAY.

    All I’m saying is that the Founders knew what they were doing when they rejected Theocracy. Look around the planet, can you name any actively theocratic countries that are not utter pits and Hells-On-Earth?

    Warren actually has said another perfect rejoinder to your demand for the FCC to “Clean Up The Airwaves”:

    “what depresses me is the prominence of lowbrow culture, that it is so commercially successful says something the bulk of the population. But I don?t let it suck me down with it, I choose my own reading, listening, and viewing material. Being able to do so is VERY important to me and I realize that in order for me to have access to the things that I like, I have to allow others their pleasures. It is NOT o.k. for the government to censor someone else just because I don?t like what he?s saying. Freedom works for everyone, the popularity of something you find repugnant is not well addressed by tyranny”

    Basically, where does it end? If “Cunt” is banned today … why not “Nigger” … or “Arab” … or “Breast” (all those breast cancer ads are now “blasphemous”) … howabout “Hick” or “Redneck” or “Corporate Criminal” (under the theory that we need to “clean up” the airwaves and not allow people to be “Enemy Combatants” suitable for “dissappearing” under the “Patriot” act for “giving comfort to the enemy” by pointing out the criminals at Enron etc.) ???

    That’s the problem, where does one persons’ Cleaning end and another’s “censorship” begin?

    I find the American Family Association hypocricies deeply obscene in a thourough way that mere words cannot express, there isn’t an explitive offensive enough to nicely wrap up in one word what I think they intend for the Constitution.

    The problem is (as Walker has pointed out repeatedly for many years) the FCC has largely functioned as a kind of “protectionist” cop, enforcing “artificial scarecity” of spectrum access by the way they write the rules. And when even the FCC can’t keep it up with a straight face … then the Big Monopolists like Clear Channel go to the “Congressional Engineering Department” to get the rules re-set for their benefit!! That is the ultimate in Corporate Welfare because it can’t even be quantified and is insidiously subtle and invisible to most Americans.

    If we got the 100 channels that the FM band was ORIGINALLY thought to be able to support when FM first came out in the late 40s … then you simply pass on the Stearn’s and listen to the station of your flavor.

    When the planet started Digital Audio Broadcasting, they learned from the US of the 1940s and created a separate broadcast band for it. MOst of the planet is using a pure digital broadcast signal on 1452-1492MHz. But the US? Heck no … Clear Channel has backed a technology called “IBOC-DAB” that DOUBLES THE WIDTH of stations on the existing AM and FM broadcast bands. This will cause your reciever to be unable to pick up the smaller and/or more distant stations that are next to a massive Clear Channel blowtorch on the dial. In Richmond, we could lose up to about 18 out of 33 reliably recievable stations!

    Its astonishing that the FCC actually admitted that IBOC-DAB will cause interference, and passed it anyway! Literally Clear Channel is backing technology that will jam the competitors signal into nonexistence, an electromagnetic version of the “Patriot” Act.

    In contrast to such blatantly anticompetitive behavior in the alleged “land of opportunity” and “freedom” here in the US …

    I was AMAZED when I brought my walkman to Europe. The radio dial regularly has cursing … not gratuitously as in a joke-show, but as part of a play or normal speech. … and the population has not all thrown down their tools to have sex in the public square as the theocrats suggest should happen. In fact, Europeans have less trouble with sex-related disorders than most of America.

    I saw NUMEROUS towns in Europe with “sex shops” (pornography etc.) that actually put samples of their videos etc.RIGHT OUT IN OPEN VIEW OF PASSERS BY … INCLUDING CHILDREN. And … guess what … there were no mobs of children having sex in the public park nearby. In fact, most European countries have lower rates of teen sex than the allegdly cleaner and more “moral” USA!

    And when I visited Moscow, I was amazed to discover that their radio dial is OVER TWICE as large as ours. The FM band starts out about 50MHz and goes to 108MHz … so no surprise that they have THREE full-time Jazz stations playing American Jazz. Jazz gets a better reception in Moscow than in the US radio dial. Thanks, Clear Channel. Europe also has a Long Wave band that sees regular usage. Radio in Europe is becoming what American radio was before the 1996 Telecom Act SHAM of “deregulation”.

    But America is no more about competition (in a REAL sense) than it is about freedom these days.

  12. Oh, I must add … I notice that some folks who call themselves “Christian” are remarkably thin skinned … “Methinks thou doth protesteth too much!”

    I am not anti-Christian any more so than I would be anti-Sikh or anti-Jewish or anti-Islamic or anti-rastafarian or … whatever.

    People should be able to believe and act on whatever they think to be true, so long as they do not harm others.

    I don’t even think the government should be involved in marriage AT ALL. I regard marriage as between those getting married and whatever group they choose to include in their value system as the “community” before which they take their vows of committment. The very idea that government should be telling consenting adults that they cannot marry people of whatever sex, religion, race or number is a choosing of a particular religous doctrine so a lot of those debates and rancor in the population over “gay marriage” or “polygamy” are only there because the government stuck their nose in where the Constitution says they shouldn’t go! Artificially created drama and unecessary.

    The problem with a MINORITY of religious folks whether it be Islamicists burning women at the stake or Christian using taxpayer funded agencies to steal property that broadcast content they don’t think others should be free to hear or express … the problem with this MINORITY of religious folk is that they think that they are endowed with some superior moral authority to FORCE their values on others with no regard for the possibility that the others might feel just as strongly in the reverse… its only by browbeating psychological operations and even outright terrorism (like the KKK burning crosses, book burnings, assassinating abortion clinic doctors etc.) that this MINORITY are able to foist their values upon others.

    Lets face it, even in a country such as America where some 80% of Americans claim to be “Christian” … even in allegedly conservative Richmond Virginia with 8 full time preaching and gospel stations … all those outlets earn a piddling 5% or so of the listenership!!

    So these allegedly “Christian” radio stations are actually failing in their alleged goal to reach out to the unchurched.

    Again … this kind of activity and self-appointed superiority is only coming from a MINORITY of Christians. The breadth of values and thougt in the actual Christian community is MUCH wider than what you hear on these stations.

  13. Doesn’t NPR for the most part support itself these days? I know NHPR is 90% privately supported. Ofr any corporation in the US these days, that’s pretty high I would think.

  14. Of course, the FCC will tell you that the airwaves are a “public trust”, yada yada. Evidently, there’s no room in the public trust for content that would challenge anyone over the age of 10.

  15. The problem is that this process of declaring this song or that talk “indecent” and thus not suitable for broadcast … is a result of the US suffering from an occupying army of counterrevolutionary Theocrats. Ever since 1776 when a blatantly secular humanist document, the Constitution, was explicitly chosen to be the founding document and the center of rulemaking for the new nation … the Theocrats have wanted that power BACK. The Theocrats of groups like the “Army Of God” (can they be any more explicit?) and so-called “Christian Coalition” (as if they speak for all “Christians”) have had a pole in their eye over the fact that the Constitution explicitly puts humans in their SECULAR roles as CITIZENS (and NOT as members of so-and-so annointed religious leader) in charge of choosing from amongst themselves a leader.

    The American Family Association radio stations have been getting away with “Satellators” for DECADES … stations that are sold to the FCC as if they were regular full power radio stations, but are in fact satellite operated translators. Most “translators” are WELL under 250 watts, but a “Satellator” can run many tens of thousands of watts. These stations wedge themselves into the radio landscape like Kudzu, using tricks like “vertical only polarization” and studies that claim they will only interfere with 300 or so people and therefore they should be allowed to put the 6th or 8th or 10th Preaching gospel station on the air. The problem is not just that they bend the rules on a mission to put out their version of “Truth”, they also pressure government to enact their values into law and steal a broadcast property from someone who does not agree with their declaration of “obscenity” based openly on their religious viewpoints!! And yet these same radio stations squeal like stuck pigs if the NOW or various gay rights organizations take a page from their own book and ask the government to require these religious stations to stop discriminating. Hey, religious Theocrats, you can’t have it BOTH ways.

    Ah, but that’s the point, they think they are right and MORE DANGEROUSLY, they are in-effect an occupying army that is on a mission to overthrow “Secular Humanism” such as the Constitution.

    And they have been there so long, like fish in water, we don’t even notice their counterrevolutionary psychological ops outlets as the propaganda and army intelligence mechanisms they are.

  16. Go, Chris, go!

    Talk a little about how Scalia injects the “moral authority of God” into his consititutional opinions, too.

  17. Christopher, Do you hang out with Oliver Stone?

  18. The thing about censorship of music lyrics is that it is one of the issues where Repubs and Dems are basically 100% in alignment. The Dems love it because it is an extension of government bureacratic power, which to the Dems is virtually always a good thing. The Repubs love it because music lyrics (particularly rap and heavy metal lyrics) are “immoral”, and to a good Repub, “immoral” generally means anything that might remotely be called “fun”. Jesse – this is why the “unconstitutional and anachronistic process has survived”.

  19. the real question is whether peoples’ children will wither if they’re subjected to “sucks,” “ass” and the vulgarity of thongs n’ pasties.

    actually, the real question is why the children became the benchmark of acceptability for media, language, the arts, seat belts and fast food.

  20. “…NFL cheerleaders, who will, by the way, be wearing thongs and pasties by 2005 for at least some teams, I guaran-damn-tee you.”

    Abu: You say that like it’s a BAD thing.

  21. Abu said: But I will say in general that the radio stations have gotten filthy in my market (KC) and I wish the FCC would take more seriously its duty to make our public airwaves a little cleaner.

    Hello?! I live in Kansas City and this is not representative of the airwaves here. For those lucky ones who don’t know, Kansas City is a desolate urban island in a sea of corn and bibles. North of us is Iowa, Nebraska, south is Oklahoma, west is the rest of Kansas and east is Missouri. There are a few filthy radio stations in KC (like 101.1 and the buzz) but for christ’s sake! (pun intended), turn the dial and you get to hear Delirious? or DC Talk play their crappy christian music. I listen to NPR because its one of the only stations here that doesnt play christian rock or preachers all day. There is an on/off switch on your radio and there is a dial tuner, that will, if applied randomly, will land you with some preacher or Sonicflood 90% of the time.

    BTW, I don’t really know how often these christian bands are played on those stations, I learned them because I just love to laugh at those commercials they have for Christian Rock that they play late at night.

  22. KC Guy, you’re right. I’ve travelled all over the US and for some reason KC has the godawfullest selection of radio I’ve ever experienced. Pretty good BBQ, though.

  23. A lot of vitriolic invective against Christianity in some of these posts. Did you miss your daily venom injection KC Guy & Christopher Maxwell?

    Don’t throw the cannard at me that I’m trying to make all radio content suitable for children under 10. I advocate no such BS. But reasonable time place and manner restrictions will not emaciate the first amendment, people! You live in a world of paranoia where everything is in sharp contrasts: FCC evil; Christianity a threat; all gov’t bad, etc.

    Lastly, the radio stations in KC are God-awful. Not only are they awful music formats, but also the DJs are foul mouthed idiots, like on 96.5 the Buzz (worst), 98.9, and 93.3 and others. Wish we got 102.3 BXR from Columbia, MO or The Bridge out of Warrensburg. Lawrence, KS stations within range used to be better.

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