Freedom of speech (and dress)

Freedom of speech (and dress)
: Ernest Miller quotes Michael Powell saying that First Amendment protection should extend to broadcast TV, since it already extends to unregulated cable TV. That would mean that he couldn’t be launching a Janet Jackson witch-hunt.

  • Prim

    I look to you for guidance. But I disagree with you and Howard Dean over the silliness of the FCC’s investigation. I’m no prude, and I am excited by attractive women, clothed or unclothed. But if we are to have no control over whether we are to be forced to watch a steaming heap of exhibitionism in the guise of entertainment, then we are helpless moral souls. The corrosive effects on youngsters of the S&M display is clear enough to me. And what of the conclusions to be drawn by the viewers in scores of countries looking to us for leadership. Our credibility is supposed to be in tatters for failure to find WMD. Is our credibility enhanced by this base dreck? Michael Powell’s inquiry will doubtless be ineffective. But I thank him for not simply standing by as our media seek the deepest, darkest, slimiest part of our natures.

  • Reid

    You know, the bowl started out with an uplifting salute to the men and women risking their lives for the exploration of space. Then, halftime was given over to a gang of mindless, rutting animals. It was almost like a tribute to the election year, with a Republican opening and a Democratic halftime. ;->
    I think Nicole Gelinas’ comments are very much on target, though: “…in the process, they do something to themselves that conservative critics can’t do. They make themselves look outdated, out-of-touch, and silly.”

  • Jesus Juice

    I think following that line of thought the first amendment should also allow you to make arguments using provactive examples or language in the comment sections of blogs without them being deleted too, but I guess only indecency the blogmaster agrees with is fit for consumption. I’ll time how long it takes for this post to get deleted next and continue to mull what a giant hypocrite JJ is.

  • Sandy P.

    It’s my first amendment right to get naked on national TV?
    I wasn’t aware JJ’s boob talked so how could it be protected under free speech?
    If JJ wanted to make a statement and get naked, she could always do a PPV show.

  • Catherine

    Jeff, for someone who thinks a big deal is being made out of nothing, you are sure making a lot of this. I am fed up with it.
    However, I am also fed up with you thinking yourself so superior for thinking it’s OK.
    In my mind, what happened to may people is no different than thinking you are going to see a G rated show (on between dinner hours between the coasts) and you get PG-13 or even R if you count violence of ripping someone’s clothes off.
    My parents are from that awful uncool generation that grew up in the 1930’s and 1940’s (70 and 77 years old respectively) and they though PG Grease in 1978 was pushing the envelope while my other friends parent’s saw nothing wrong with their kids (8, 9 like me at the time) seeing Coal Miner’s Daughter. I wasn’t allowed to go. My parents thought both movies had sexual content and material DISCUSSED (no nudity) for me to handle.
    My point is this Jeff, my parents had a choice. They are no prudes, but wanted to protect my innocence as long as possible and for that I am grateful. I was never subjected to seeing a woman’s clothes ripped off her body so explicitly. For that I am grateful. Honestly, kids do not stay as innocent for as long as I did. It was nice to have had a childhood.
    You may think it’s cool that you are a hip dad who sees nothing wrong with Sunday, or standards for everything reaching new levels of crass. Good for you. For that, you can watch cable all you want and show your kids all the nudity and implied sexual violence you want. I mean, SATC is one of my fav shows, but I know it’s explicit, so I don’t watch it with my nephews. For those of us who prefer not to have our 9 year olds watching such crass displays, or our 34 year olds watching it, you can let us know before hand.

  • Hm, I think JJ’s boob spoke volumes…
    I think the FCC will go the way of the RIAA eventually. Private ventures will pioneer ‘family friendly’ programming. Capitalism is great, ain’t it? Rated G movies make the most money anyway…

  • John Thacker

    Mr. Jarvis, the FCC regulations already exist. The FCC can’t just arbitrarily throw them out or ignore them, especially not after such a blatant violation.
    There’s a proper procedure for the change of regulations, usually started from directions from Congress, and requiring a general comment period.
    I seem to recall that the thing Democrats really worried about John Ashcroft doing, and made him promise not to do at his confirmation hearing, was failing to enforce laws he might disagree with.
    Yes, in his stated view the FCC would not have the power to launch such an investigation, and that would be a good thing. But the current law and regulations say otherwise, and he is obligated to follow them, like it or not. You do yourself no credit in ordering him to ignore them.

  • Doctor Slack

    Mr. Jarvis, the FCC regulations already exist.
    The FCC went six-and-a-half years past broadcast deadline to produce a policy statement on broadcast indecency that remains vague. Given those vagaries, and the fact that the FCC’s definition of “indecency” hinges on undefined community standards (and much of that community finds the furore silly) it’s hard to even make a case for “indecency” here, let alone for the level of response Powell adopted. Make no mistake, he had plenty of options — Jeff isn’t demanding that he ignore his mandate.
    I was never subjected to seeing a woman’s clothes ripped off her body so explicitly.
    Though I sympathize with Catherine’s fatigue with the whole non-event, I find it hard to sympathize with stuff like this. There are some very flawed assumptions going on, it seems to me, when someone pretends that a glimpse of a sexual organ (achieved via ripping or otherwise) is going to traumatize and destroy a childhood. That’s really the point where I just have to roll my eyes.

  • Doctor Slack

    past broadcast deadline
    That should say “past court deadline.”

  • “But if we are to have no control over whether we are to be forced to watch a steaming heap of exhibitionism in the guise of entertainment, then we are helpless moral souls.”
    You were forced to watch? Tied down in your chairs? Your television had no “off” button?
    The halftime show starred a lot of pop stars and was produced by MTV. You were expecting what, exactly? A lecture on the virtues of chastity?

  • Reid

    You know, to those who are so eager to broadcast their nonchalance about merely being exposed to seeing a woman’s breast, I would suggest that, for me at least, it isn’t the item exposed so much as the venue. It’s simply a question of taste.
    Let me put it this way. Suppose this had been a young woman and an older man and the woman had ripped the man’s shirt off to expose his back hair and slightly saggy breasts. (All right, that last bit’s a little over the top and, I’ve bashed JJ enough. Suppose he has rippling biceps, humongous pecs, and washboard abs. It’s beside the point.) There’s nothing indecent about it but, is it really appropriate for a Super Bowl half time? Is it really something you want to see at that particular time and place? (Of course, some of you will say emphatically “yes” but, I think most would not.)

  • Doctor Slack

    It’s simply a question of taste.
    I agree with you, actually. A question of taste is precisely what it is. I just think that’s all it is. The appropriate response to questions of taste is the time-honoured ritual of kvetch and counter-kvetch, and I’m fine with that. FCC probes, fines et cetera are on a whole ‘nother level.

  • Reid

    I think that CBS should have let people know what to expect. It’s easy and glib to say people should just change the channel or turn off the TV but, you can’t just sneak up on them, open your raincoat and yell “surprise!”

  • Insufficiently Sensitive

    You all just don’t get it. CBS, via MTV, was completing the balance of the Super Bowl broadcast.
    One net hour of that broadcast was pure stylized violence. Just a few minutes of stylized mating dances and two seconds of forbidden flesh achieved the traditional American entertainment standard balance of sex and violence.

  • While as a parent, I was disappointed by MTV’s halftime boobie prize, I was more disappointed by their decision to give air time to talentless hacks like the flag desicrating Kid Rock, crotch grabbing Nelly, and P-Diddy.
    At least we have evidence that Janet has some real talent worth watching beyond her skills as an exhibitionist.
    My teen aged sons didn’t need to see that sort of thing, but I’m sure they aren’t marred for life.
    Perhaps we would all be better off if there were no FCC and ABC ran hard core porn from 5 PM to 2 AM nightly. At least then people would have a justification for wanting to toss their TVs out with the rest of the garbage.

  • Scott H

    it’s simply a question of taste.
    It’s more than this. It’s also a question of forum.
    Broadcast TV is carried over the publicly shared frequency spectrum. In contrast, cable TV is carried over private wires. It is reasonable to expect and uphold higher decency standards for the public space. If content on cable offends, then don’t subscribe. However, for the public space, it’s up to the public to determine how and what is broadcast — by both market demands and regulation.
    I think unregulated broadcast TV is a horrible idea… there would be no counterbalance to market forces.

  • Doctor Slack

    It’s more than this. It’s also a question of forum.
    I think this would be a much stronger point if the FCC had any established, rigorous means of determining the real desires of the forum, of the balance of the community that defines “indecency.” They appear to lack this right now.

  • “It’s more than this. It’s also a question of forum.
    Broadcast TV is carried over the publicly shared frequency spectrum. In contrast, cable TV is carried over private wires. It is reasonable to expect and uphold higher decency standards for the public space.”
    Only about 15% of Americans get their “broadcast TV” from radio waves that left a broadcast tower. Most people have cable or satellite TV. In that context, where broadcast networks are interspersed with pay channels that air a wider variety of material, what sense does it make to talk about expectations of decency? I could flip from channel 7 (CBS) to channel 8 (HBO) to channel 9 (ABC). Do I have an “expectation of higher decency” when I am on channel 7 and channel 9, but not on channel 8?

  • onecent

    Sorry, there is a time and place for everything. You want nudity and crotch groping to lyrics, pony up for cable and enjoy what you like there.
    But, when I gather my family to watch a national sporting event on public airwaves, that’s all I want and expect.
    It’s time to draw a line in the sand at the events smut culture can highjack. And yelps of prudery just don’t cut it. Some of us have kids we’d like to teach that women aren’t smarmy sex objects. JJ’s dysfunctional family doesn’t need to encrouch on mine. Kids need role models to respect.
    It’s time the FCC started fining creeps.

  • angell

    Have your freedom of dress–but warn parents it is not a family deal–explicit sexual scenes will be shown.The show included:
    * Janet Jackson grabbing her breasts;
    * One performer repeatedly fondling his crotch;
    * striptease cheerleaders;
    * gyrating transvestites;
    * simulated lesbian sex;
    * Jackson and Timberlake groping each other.
    You call it freedom–I call it porn. Filthy crap.
    This is what freedom gets you:
    “My students were talking to me about the parties that they were having on weekends. And there was one place in particular where they had lots of privacy

  • Doctor Slack

    You want nudity and crotch groping to lyrics, pony up for cable and enjoy what you like there.
    Bloviating aside, I’ve gotta say Floyd’s point is well made. And angell, if you’re horrified by the Playboy channel, I think the pornography of some more repressed eras might give you a bit of perspective about what really is “smut.”

  • Roger

    A witch-hunt on Janet Jackson? Let me get this straight. Someone who purposely flashes me/my children on national TV (in a forum where that isn’t expected) is no different than someone who does the same act in an alley, sidewalk, or other venue – they should be treated the same – i.e., prosecuted for lewd behavior. Actually, what Janet Jackson did was far worse, because real flashers a) only inflict themselves on a handful of people, not milions, and b) they do so out of compulsion, not self-promotion.

  • Justin’s off the hook, then?