Amen to that

Amen to that
: Censorship will grow if bozos have their way. Some on the FCC would leach out past the public airwaves to private wires. And once they start censoring cable, I’ll repeat, watch out: Your weblog could be next.

Ernie Miller outs one bozo on the FCC who’s leaching:

What Part of the First Amendment Don’t You Understand?

Im talking to you, FCC Commissioner Kevin J. Martin.

According to a Reuters wirestory posted on Infoshop, Martin wants the FCC to consider regulating indecency on satellite and cable (FCC’s Martin ponders indecency on pay TV, radio).

Let me think about that … um, no.

“Cable companies need some way to empower parents and families to have more choice,” Martin said. “I think that it has the potential to be a problem when they are receiving things they object to and have to pay for that.”

It’s called stop paying for cable, Martin. It’s called a lockbox, Martin. Its called the First Amendment, Martin.What a maroon.

: One more thing: One of my loyal commenters has taken me to task in email for only mentioning the Bush and Republican bad guys in this fight.

Right. I should mention that I’ve long called Rep. Ed Markey of the other side one of the most dangerous men in Washington. Some years ago, on a John McLaughlin show, I went ballistic against Markey over the V-chip and his desire to blacklist and censor media.

  • TomK

    Now THIS one I can agree with you on. Frankly, I can’t see any way you can use the “public interest” (the only tool the government can use) as a justification for regulating content on a completely private media distribution system like cable. You only get it if you pay for it, unlike broadcast media.
    We’ve got both a young child and cable in our house. To avoid him seeing something on cable we don’t want him seeing, we just don’t buy the channels that show that sort of thing. How hard is that?
    One other thought: How is cable different from a video tape or DVD? They’re both media you can only see if you explicitly go out trying to find them. To the best of my knowledge, there’s no content regulation whatsoever on videotapes and DVDs (despite the best efforts of Tipper Gore).

  • Charlie (Colorado)

    You’re absolutely right on this one. Good lord, he’s even from Duke. And Chapel Hill. That’s my whole graduate career.
    By the way, the prediction on Fox’s Bulls and Bears is that Clear Channel stock will lose 20 percent because of the loss of advertising revenue — they feel advertisers are going to run like bunnies at the loss of listeners for Stern.

  • anne.elk

    The V-Chip was a bad implementation of a not so bad idea.
    What the V-Chip should have done was to allow the user to ask the user’s choice of critics to rate the program.
    So the V-Chip hooks up to internet, and allows you to choose to let ANY of a) ACLU b) NRA c) Christian Coalition d) your local PTA e) Rush Limbaugh f) MADD g) fleshbot h) Lambda i) your local parents group j) anyone YOU want to rate the show that is airing. It publishes the UPC/SKU of the show, and the rating services return the ratings.
    This would have given parents a far more personal, reliable, and easy way to monitor the shows their kids watch.
    integrated TV and internet/radio, and

  • http://www.gapingvoid.com hugh macleod

    As somebody who published this cartoon, yeah, I’m concerned as well.
    Because at the end of the day, it won’t be public decency that will benefit. It’ll be their own political careers . And the more people they can lather up into a feeding frenzy, the more their star shall rise and unconventional folk like Stern (and me) will be screwed with.
    My new plan: move back to Manhattan, and never leave the island ever again. Ever. Heh.

  • http://www.gapingvoid.com hugh macleod

    Oops! Sorry, wrong link. This cartoon. Yes. Sorry. *Cough*!

  • Sandy P.

    –What Part of the First Amendment Don’t You Understand?
    Im talking to you, FCC Commissioner Kevin J. Martin.–
    Gee, “Congress shall make no law.” If the Supremes don’t get it, why should Martin?

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    I suppose they’re afraid of what U.S. citizens might have to say..

  • Andy Freeman

    Remind me – how many of you oppose campaign finance laws as well?
    The rest of you, and you’re not a small minority, think that the First Amendment protects Stern’s right to say “shit” but not political speech. That’s a “principle”, but it’s not a very good one.

  • J

    I’d take your first amendment complaints more seriously if you also railed against other attacks on freedom and free speech, such as DMCA and the horrible “Super-DMCA” bills (which have been passed by a few states and are currently being considered by many states). See also the “Database Bill”, the “No Electronic Theft Act”, and many other similar initiatives.
    Congress has been systematically changing copyright, patent, and intellectual property laws for the past decade. The changes consistently favor big business (and big media in particular), at the cost of suppressing individual innovation, creativity, and freedom of expression.
    I consider the first amendment to be the most important, and I am a big supporter of the EFF. I don’t see the Stern incident as being even close to the most chilling attack on our first amendment rights.
    It’s nice that you’ve suddenly gotten first amendment religion (now that someone you LIKE has been taken off the air by some stations because of “indecent” speech on their show).
    But your indifference when others (like Rush and Savage) were similarly censored greatly weakens your credibility, and your continued indifference to measures like “Super-DMCA” implies a lack of interest in general freedom of speech for everyone (as opposed to the more specialized freedom of speech for stars and big media).

  • John Anderson

    “I think that it has the potential to be a problem when they are receiving things they object to and have to pay for that.”
    Huh? Don’t want it, then don’t buy it: too simple for the bureaucracy?
    I have to pay for that V-chip, which is still in the sets we buy – not that anyone knows about it. But I don’t have to use it, even if I knew how, or if it served any purpose since it was mandated but became a dead issue so quickly broadcasts were never forced to comply with it.
    And remember ‘cable-ready’ circuitry forced on our TVs by the Feds? Too bad they forgot to restrict the cable companies to using that circuitry – which is still in our TVs, VCRs, DVDs…
    Or now, the ‘HDTV-ready’ circuitry – except it had to be added before the broadcasters decided which system they were going to use. Will it work? I don’t know yet: maybe…
    So Martin wants to add more stuff, so I can watch BayWatch but my kid can’t? Or neither of us? More brilliantly thought-out ways to cost me money with no visible practical result? All because he thinks I’d sign up for the Playboy Channel without wanting it? Or don’t know where the fuse box is so when I tell my kid “lights out” I can enforce it?
    Bah. Humbug!

  • pianoman

    As noted by Glenn Reynolds, none of this FCC fulminating is driven by the White House. The most vocal critics of Stern on the FCC are Democrats. Michael Powell was appointed by Clinton.
    Your willingness to lump Bush in with the “censorship” of Stern says a lot more about you than it does about the censorship itself.

  • billg

    Seems to me that one simple way to deal with one part of this issue would be to cajole/compel/incentivize cable TV companies to sell ala carte channels. The best way for parents to keep their kids from watching channels they don’t want them to watch is to not bring them into the home in the first place. Current cable pricing and packaging schemes don’t give customers sufficient control.

  • Charlie (Colorado)

    Andy — Me, me! I object to the campaign finance laws as well.
    J — I think I’ve seen Jeff complain about several of those things, even if he does clearly think Lawrence Lessig is a loon.
    BillG — I think ala carte would be a fine idea. I wonder what the impact would be on the satellite hardware?
    As to the rest — look, I’m the guy that took Jeff to task about focusing on Bush, but I think ‘pianoman’ is off the mark too. The point isn’t that Jeff is a Bad Person In Some Sense — it’s that we should be careful we’re aiming at the real bad guys before pulling the trigger. Howard Stern is shooting at the wrong people — the people who are most vocal about controlling “indecency” aren’t Bush appointees, and a substantial subset (I think a majority) aren’t even Republicans. John Dingell isn’t a Republican; neither are Tipper Gore nor Joe Lieberman (although they were more involved the last time this train came around.)

  • Matthew

    How does everyone feel about zoning? Brothel next door OK with you? Pornographic (or evangelistic) billboard across the street from your living room not a problem?
    The slope is slippery in both directions.

  • http://twistedspinster.com/ Andrea Harris

    Most of the metropolitan districts in Central Florida have no problem with free-for-all zoning. One of the cities I lived in had the local strip club just up the block from the police station, I assume for purposes of convenience.

  • hey

    yeah, zoning is idiotic these days, and is solely a tool for social engineering (letting the leftists that dominate community action groups have fun), nimbyism, and exploitive taxation
    cities should abandon zoning and focus solely on industries that are noxious… abattoirs, refineries. If someone is upset enough, they should raise the money and buy or lease the property that offends them. My personal goal is to buy Harper’s, the Nation, and the New York Times and ritually humiliate everyone that works there, or at lesat buying sufficient property or leases that frustrate their various operations. Using the governement to do your dirty work is unenterprising and thuggish. Make enough money so that you can indulge your vindictive fantasies, so that you and you alone pay for your desires, rather than using your ability to attract 50 non-showering hippies to dominate useless city-council meetings and getting everyone else to pay for your wishes.

  • Thom

    Jeff,
    Please also recall that Joe Lieberman has been a leader of the pack in trying to get Hollywood to self-censor, and Tipper Gore was no friend to self-expression either. There is no way that this can be characterized as a Republican movement.
    It will, however, be characterized as a Republican assault on speech because that “fits” with the media’s long-running “story.” Given that you are an astute analyst of the media, I cannot believe you advanced that “story.”
    Also, I honestly feel that after the campaign finance decisions, the First Amendment is a hollow tree waiting for a strong wind to knock it down.

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