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Really F***ing Brilliant

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.



  1. Sammy wrote:

    Yeah, because if someone says they got fucking shitfaced, I immediately think of a dirty Sanchez or a hot Carl (do NOT look those terms up if you’re at all easily offended).

    Seriously, this new power that the FCC has is one reason I voted for Obama. I’m hoping he guts their authority to a more moderate and – dare I say?? – reasonable reading of obscenity laws. Scalia is a shithead who can go fuck himself, and yes I DO mean that in an excretory way and sexual way.

    Wednesday, April 29, 2009 at 2:17 pm | Permalink
  2. Daniel wrote:

    Actually, that case is completely misunderstood. The problem is the procedural posture of the case. The court did NOT grant the FCC the power to regulate even fleeting references because that was never an issue in the case. In fact, if you bother to read the opinions the court specifically says it is not deciding that issue. But of course, the media can’t be bothered to actually read anything because it’s too busy hyping whatever pushes people’s buttons.

    I think that it is highly likely that if anyone ever does sues the FCC on Free Speech grounds they will win. But no one has done that yet.

    Wednesday, April 29, 2009 at 4:20 pm | Permalink
  3. K!m wrote:

    I second what Daniel said. SCOTUS was merely upholding fines for TV stations with fleeting expletives, not necessarily coming down on our freedom of speech.

    Wednesday, April 29, 2009 at 6:06 pm | Permalink
  4. Iron Knee wrote:

    For heaven’s sake people, I don’t mind one bit being corrected, but please put in a reference (link) so we can read the real information.

    Wednesday, April 29, 2009 at 6:29 pm | Permalink
  5. Sammy wrote:

    Not overturning the FCC’s power to fine for the use of fleeting expletives, and then using completely erroneous reasoning by saying that EVERY use of the S-word or F-word evoke excretory or sexual thoughts, if not stepping on the First Amendment, certainly offends a reasonable person’s sense of logic.

    The Supreme Court, one would think, would have better things to worry about than a one second F-word, and should have not even heard the case. Hell, they routinely turn down death row cases with new DNA evidence.

    Wednesday, April 29, 2009 at 8:40 pm | Permalink
  6. K!M wrote:

    this good enough?

    Wednesday, April 29, 2009 at 9:56 pm | Permalink
  7. Eva wrote:

    I don’t happen to own a television but I’m still incensed about the flack about the “wardrobe malfunction” What is there to get upset about when a woman takes her out baby bottle and shows it to the world? This is worse than showing murder after murder after murder? I’m nearly 65 and still don’t get it. I supposed it is comparable to a woman in Japan showing her big toe. Absolutely ridiculous. And who is offended by seeing a bare breast?

    Thursday, April 30, 2009 at 8:11 am | Permalink