Oh, how I wish that just one station in this nation would have aired George Bush’s “shit” so that the FCC could fine them — or so that the FCC would not and we’d have standing to bring a civil rights suit against them for allowing his shit but disallowing ours. (See my defense of bullshit.)
Louis Wiley Jr., executive editor of Frontline, writes an amazing column detailing the chill on speech imposed by the FCC and the latest indecent indecency legislation:
The title of a recent e-mail from PBS caught my eye: “Editing of Coarse Language/New Practices.” Henceforth, producers would face two new requirements: (1) if a word is bleeped or wiped (silenced), the entirety of the word must be bleeped or wiped, meaning that “mother-F-word” would now have to be “bleep bleep,” and (2) if the F-word or the S-word were uttered to camera so that viewers could recognize it from the speaker’s mouth, the lips must be pixelated. . . .
It was former FCC Chairman Michael Powell who warned broadcasters about the direction of the indecency war. “The danger,” he said, “is in self-censorship.” It is no longer just a danger in my view. The reality is here. . . .
Sadly, public broadcasters have said too little about the danger. The consequence of the government’s assault on what it deems wayward commercial enterprises is to make public media pay a steep price in editorial freedom. We are becoming collateral damage in the war on indecency.
So stand up and fight, damnit.