My rant for Reason is up. It’s a defense of bullshit.
I don’t have any objections to “indecent” language or behavior on the air, but I do think there needs to be some way for people not to be ambushed by it.
Censorship is not the answer. A straight reading of the 1st amendment shows that the Supreme Court had no basis for even declaring “pornography” illegal and the FCC has even less authority:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press
This is an absolute right, there is no fudge factor in the word “no”, however it has been ignored anyway.
For the broadcast media I think what is needed is a voluntary set of standards of “good taste”. What I mean by this that if some station decides it wants to maintain a 1950’s level of acceptability then it publishes its guidelines and programs appropriately. If some station wants to deliver Howard Stern’s level of decency it does the same.
Being forewarned viewers can watch whatever they wish. Just like radio stations have certain music formats, stations could have certain decency formats. Things like the V chip are pointless, most people don’t even know they are in their sets and the ratings are too vague.
In the spirit of free enterprise let the market decide. Even if all the stations take the low road one always has the option of turning off the set and/or watching pre-recorded video. The Amish don’t like broadcast media, act accordingly, and are doing just fine.
PS. Jeff, your tag line looks very impressive, Professor at CUNY.
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