Earlier this week, the Supreme Court upheld new stricter rules against obscenity on television. Previously, so-called “fleeting expletives” were allowed occasionally. For example, what prompted the lawsuit were live broadcasts of awards shows where “foul-mouthed glitteratae from Hollywood” (as Justice Scalia put it) let slip the F-word. One instance was musician Bono saying that an award was “really f*cking brilliant” and another was Cher saying of her critics “f*ck ‘em”.
Since either of these instances of the F-word were actually referring to any sex act, the FCC used to allow them (in moderation, of course). But new tighter FCC rules declare that some words (including both the F-word and the S-word) are so offensive that they always evoke sexual or excretory images. In addition, the famous “wardrobe malfunction” that showed Janet Jackson’s breast for nine sixteenths of a second is again considered indecent, even though a lower court had previously ruled it should have been counted as “fleeting”.
What is ironic about all this is that it was Fox Television that brought the suit against the FCC trying to overturn the new rules. Who woulda thought that conservative Fox would be defending indecent speech?
Not to mention that it is the new “liberal” administration that is making indecency laws tougher. The FCC is now free to take up “tens of thousands” of existing indecency complaints that have been pending during the review of the new rules.