The US Supreme Court has sided with the FCC, upholding its incredibly unreasonable “fleeting expletive” rule.
The Supreme Court on Tuesday said the government could threaten broadcasters with fines over the use of even a single curse word on live television, yet stopped short of ruling whether the policy violates the Constitution.
The court, in a 5-4 decision, refused to pass judgment on whether the Federal Communications Commission’s ”fleeting expletives” policy is in line with First Amendment guarantees of free speech.
Well, fuck that.
[QUICK! How many of you instantly had a sexual image flash through your heads when I used the word “fuck” in a clearly nonsexual manner? I’m guessing none, yet that notion—that some words are so offensive because they always evoke sexual or execretory images—is at the heart of the Supreme Court’s logic. Utterly fucking ridiculous.]
I’m not saying the FCC should have no power at all to regulate the public airwaves, but these regulations should not be arbitrary or unreasonable, and the fleeting expletive rule is both, especially in light of how easy it is to cleverly—and legally—subvert the rule’s intent.
From Justice Stevens’ dissent:
There is a critical distinction between the use of an expletive to describe a sexual or excretory function and the use of such a word for an entirely different purpose, such as to express an emotion. One rests at the core of indecency; the other stands miles apart. As any golfer who has watched his partner shank a short approach knows, it would be absurd to accept the suggestion that the resultant four-letter word uttered on the golf course describes sex or excrement and is therefore indecent. But that is the absurdity the FCC has embraced in its new approach to indecency.