Supreme Court Upholds FCC Rulemaking on Indecency
Today's 5-4 Supreme Court decision addressing the FCC's 2004 "Golden Globe Order" -- which "declared for the first time that an expletive (nonliteral) use of the F-Word or the S-Word could be actionably indecent, even when the word is used only once" -- will be of primary interest to practitioners and students of administrative law. It does not address the more interesting question: whether the FCC's tough stance against the use of naughty language is constitutional. (For the record, the F-word in question is not fudge and the S-word is not sugar. Use your imagination.)
The FCC's prudish sense of "indecency" is out-of-step with the reality of modern American life. This isn't surprising since the FCC's new-found puritanism was dictated by the religious right, which is responsible for "the lion's share" of indecency complaints. According to the FCC's revised sense of indecency, not only are the fleeting mentions of common expletives on live broadcasts indecent, so are brief views of female (and presumably male) buttocks, Janet Jackson's n*pple, and even "pixilated body parts."
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