Had it Right the First Time

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Was a time when Michael Powell used to say sensible things about how the FCC's policing of broadcast speech ran up against the First Amendment. His election-year about-face was noted recently in the Congressional testimony of lawyer Robert Corn-Revere:

With respect to regulating broadcast content, Chairman Powell has criticized as a "willful denial of reality" the Commission's failure to reexamine the "demonstrably faulty premises for broadcast regulation," including the claim "that broadcasting is uniquely intrusive as a basis for restricting speech." Of this rationale he has said, "[t]he TV set attached to rabbit ears is no more an intruder into the home than cable, DBS, or newspapers for that matter. Most Americans are willing to bring TVs into their living rooms with no illusion as to what they will get when they turn them on." The Chairman has explained that "[t]echnology has evaporated any meaningful distinctions among distribution [media], making it unsustainable for the courts to segregate broadcasting from other [media] for First Amendment purposes. It is just fantastic to maintain that the First Amendment changes as you click through the channels on your television set."

Via Jeff Jarvis.

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  1. The argument is that one must subscribe to the cable channels, inviting the smut into one’s home, contrasted to everyone being bombarded with over the air broadcasts. So in theory, until I invite in smut, I shouldn’t be exposed to it.

    The argument, of course, is false, in that it presupposses that all have a TV or radio. People can and do exist without TV (although FEMA supplies them for free after floods.) The argument also presupposes that once one turns on the TV, he becomes incapable of turning it off or changing channels.

    And I thought men were incapable of leaving it one one channel…

  2. And to think I actually thought about voting for Bush this year…

  3. The argument is that one must subscribe to the cable channels, inviting the smut into one’s home, contrasted to everyone being bombarded with over the air broadcasts. So in theory, until I invite in smut, I shouldn’t be exposed to it.

    The argument, of course, is false, in that it presupposses that all have a TV or radio. People can and do exist without TV (although FEMA supplies them for free after floods.) The argument also presupposes that once one turns on the TV, he becomes incapable of turning it off or changing channels.

    And I thought men were incapable of leaving it one one channel…

  4. Along the lines of what Jennifer said, there’s a Thai restaurant near me called Phuket Thai. Is it correctly pronounced …?

    Poo-ket, if I’m not mistaken. Unless, of course, you were planning on going there, and have just decided against it.

  5. The argument is that one must subscribe to the cable channels, inviting the smut into one’s home, contrasted to everyone being bombarded with over the air broadcasts. So in theory, until I invite in smut, I shouldn’t be exposed to it.

    The argument, of course, is false, in that it presupposses that all have a TV or radio. People can and do exist without TV (although FEMA supplies them for free after floods.) The argument also presupposes that once one turns on the TV, he becomes incapable of turning it off or changing channels.

    And I thought men were incapable of leaving it one one channel…

  6. Hey, I only posted that once, even if it did deserve three reads…

  7. How about a Vietnamese guy named Sum Dum Phuc?

  8. It’s amazing what a little nipple can do.

  9. Here in Portland we have a venerable bar in China Town called Hung Far Low.

  10. … or in this case a nipple-shield.

  11. Michael Powell’s threatening to “not only chill speech” but “deep-freeze it” shows that he doesn’t give a damn about Constitutional restrictions on power.

  12. “…then my boss, Dubbya, realized it was an election year.”

  13. Last week, some DJs from KGB, a rock station in San Diego, called a guy from the FCC to see if it was OK to say 888 (triple-eight) on the radio. The guy insisted it wasn’t, because everyone knows that number’s dirty meaning. They got him to budge on the fact that it was part of his own phone number (888-CALL-FCC), but that was it. Even “ocho ocho ocho” was out because it didn’t matter what language you said indecent stuff in; you just couldn’t say it on the air, and technically, they already qualified for millions in fines just for having said it during this conversation, which was on the air.

    Only after hanging up did the DJs admit that 888 doesn’t really mean anything.

  14. Queefs, the whole lot of ’em … oh … you mean that’s a REAL word?

  15. Powell is an antitrust lawyer. Such people, by virtue of their career choice, don’t give a damn about the Constitution and its restrictions on government power.

  16. the tv is about as uniquely intrusive as my toaster.

  17. I love all the choices presented to me by [government approved and subsidized] broadcaster, the [government maintained monopoly] cable companies, and the [government approved and subsidized] satellite companies! I can consume virtually any media I wish as long as I pick it from the rather long [government approved] list.

    Sadly, my own attempts to actually speak by setting up a small broadcast tower in my backyard have been somewhat hindered by corporate lawsuits and a FCC SWAT raid.

    Yep, free speech is a great thing…

    … for those that have it.

  18. For you non-NPR-junkies out there who missed it, Jesse Walker was interviewed briefly on On The Media this weekend talking about FCC broadcast policing.
    Libertarian and a dreamy voice. If I weren’t already trying to marry my sister, Bill O’Reilly, and a duck….

  19. I loved Lewis Black’s comment on the new indecency rules. If “fuck” is the dirtiest word describing a sexual act, where does that leave the Cleveland Steamer, Rusty Trombone and Blumpie (not to mention the Dirty Senor Sanchez, no offense Julian).

  20. I don’t mean to sound racist here, but when substitute-teaching in urban schools I noticed that the majority of the kids had names which their invented out of whole cloth; instead of ordinary names like John and Elizabeth, or even names like Mostafa (which is unusual in America but not uncommon worldwide) I’d get all these weird names I’d never heard before, at least not in the context of names.

    So suppose some woman names her son Mutherfokker (sic) Jones, who goes on to become the type of famous important celebrity that gets interviewed on the radio. Would it be legal to interview Mutherfokker? Would it be legal to say his name?

    Oh, Christ, for the first time in my LIFE I actually want to have a baby. How can I explain this to my boyfriend? “I have no desire to be a mother, honey, I just want to raise an obscenely-named celebrity to piss off the FCC.”

  21. I meant to say “names which their PARENTS invented out of whole cloth.” Oops.

  22. Along the lines of what Jennifer said, there’s a Thai restaurant near me called Phuket Thai. Is it correctly pronounced “Fuck It” or “Fukay”? If it’s pronounced the way my friends and I pronounce it, the former, can they advertise on TV? If they can, can they pronounce the name or just write it? There are definitely some Asian names that sound like American swears.

  23. Try going on the radio and saying THIS:

    My pregnant Shih T’zu bitch eats shiitake mushrooms. I have a mother. Fokker planes helped the German war effort. The city is better than the count-(pause, pause)-ry.

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