"CBS to Air Profanity-Laden Program," announces the American Family Association (AFA). "CBS has stated they have not, and will not, make any cuts in the amount and degree of profanity," reads a linked, bolded petition. "Send an email, asking the FCC to enforce the law." What's the offending show? Oh, it's a documentary. About 9/11. The profanity, of course, is that of firefighters. The AFA wants the "indecent" bits excised so children, as they watch the towers fall, aren't forever scarred by a stray naughty word. CBS has refused, and some of its affiliates say they won't air the show for fear of fines. AP reports:
Broadcasters say the hesitancy of some CBS affiliates to air a powerful Sept. 11 documentary next week proves there's been a chilling effect on the First Amendment since federal regulators boosted penalties for television obscenities after Janet Jackson's breast was exposed at a Super Bowl halftime show.
"This is example No. 1," said Martin Franks, executive vice president of CBS Corp., of the decision by two dozen CBS affiliates to replace or delay "9/11"—which has already aired twice without controversy—over concerns about some of the language used by the firefighters in it.
The documentary (not to be confused with ABC's historical fiction) will be pushed until after 10pm on some stations, when bad words are better tolerated. It's not clear to me whether CBS really expects to be fined or is posturing for effect, but either way, the FCC's indecency police look increasingly ridiculous.