The Daily Stern

The Daily Stern

: LA TIMES WORRIES: An LA Times editorial frets that the indecent indecency bills zooming through Congress are unconstitutional:

Washington cannot address a key reason why vulgarity too often reigns on radio and television: because it sells. Don’t like shock jock Howard Stern? Don’t listen to the show. The government’s current alternative is scarier than anything the deliberately provocative Stern could muster.

The pending Senate bill is a companion to chilling legislation recently passed in the House of Representatives that wrongly would put most of the policing burden on performers, raising fines from $11,000 to $500,000 for an initial indecency violation, regardless of their ability to pay, and removing earlier requirements that they first be issued a warning citation.

The top fine against them is nearly double the $275,000 that the Senate bill would permit the FCC to fine broadcasters for an initial indecency violation.

The bill’s draconian provisions against performers raise serious 1st Amendment free-speech guarantees, because even “indecent” speech has legal protection. However, even if the legislation were constitutional, the FCC’s past decisions demonstrate that it does not enforce its rules in any common-sense context….

The FCC’s recent enforcement of indecency laws is no less arbitrary. A discussion by Stern about raunchy sex practices draws tens of thousands of dollars in fines; a similar discussion on an afternoon TV talk show draws nothing.

Wimps. That’s Oprah. Oprah Winfrey.

: BUST OPRAH: Joe Territo — who filed a formal complaint with the FCC against Oprah — shows us a clueless letter from Dianne Feinstein trying (typical for her) to have it both ways: in favor of censorship and the First Amendment at the same time. That’s a Constitutional oxymoron.

: HENCEFORTH THE “F-WORD” SHALL BE KNOWN AS THE “-WORD”: Barney Lerten passes on this from The Well:


Will Examine Other Euphemisms, Slang Terms, and “Code Words”

WASHINGTON (Plausible News Service) — The Federal Communications

Commission, as part of its ongoing crackdown on obscenity following the

Janet Jackson Super Bowl debacle, has announced that the very term

“F-word,” which is used to refer to an obscene word for the sexual act,

will be banned from all broadcast media beginning July 1.

“Everybody knows what ‘F-word’ means,” said FCC Chairman Michael

Powell, describing the new regulations to the Congressional

Subcommittee on Moral Purity chaired by Rep. Henry Hyde (R-IL). “So

saying ‘F-word’ should be subject to the same kinds of sanctions as

saying — well, you know.”

Discussion among the Congresspeople present soon led to other

concerns. “Well, what about when people use words like ‘frigging’?”

asked Rep. Walter Jones (R-NC)….

: PREVIOUS DAILY STERN POSTS: here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here.

  • KMK

    Don’t file a complaint against Oprah. Good lord. Don’t chill anyone’s speech. We should be defending her right. If it’s OK to argue for Stern you must also argue for Oprah. Argh. Sheez. Have I argued this point in vain? Oh well, Susan, I’m now standing next to you upholding Oprah’s right to free speech as I said I would.

  • anne.elk

    You don’t make it clear, and it’s not at all clear from the link to Lerten, but I am pretty sure he’s pulling your leg.
    Google assures me there is no Congressional
    Subcommittee on Moral Purity, and a visit to Henry Hyde’s congressional website says that he chairs:
    International Relations Committee, Chairman
    Judiciary Committee Courts, Internet and Intellectual Property Subcommittee

  • anne.elk

    Wow, I am hoping there will be a run on guns the day that Congress forms a “Congressional Subcommittee on Moral Purity.”

  • anne.elk

    I am not sure how Dianne Feinstein’s opinion is different from your own.
    Both you and Dianne have both argued that you are worred about minors seeing content (she on radio and tv and you on your own blog to keep your son safe). And both you and her have argued forcefully for free speech. And both you and her recognize that some form of moderation or regulation is in order. She has the FCC patrolling the airwaves, you have MT. She bleeps, you f’ or f*
    Can you clarify her cluelessness vs. your cluefulness?

  • Barney Lerten

    Anne… Anne, Anne Anne. Didn’t the “Plausible News Service” give away that it was a JOKE? Or maybe you’re pulling OUR leg about taking it seriously?;-)

  • anne.elk

    Barney, as I said, I thought it was parody. I am just not sure that Jeff did, since I have rarely seen parody in his daily stern posts…. It may be that Jeff’s sense of humor is drier than I had thought.
    When I said it wasn’t clear from the link to Lerten, I wasn’t referring to your column — I couldn’t find the relevant column, the link only points to the Bend.
    Otoh, I left a comment at Territo’s blog. Evidently, Territo likes to come off like an idealistic idiot, and an ignorant one at that.

  • billg

    I’ve been skipping over these daily stern rants, but I caught the bit about the LATimes deciding that this little spate of election-year indecency legislation is unconstitutional.
    The paper is right. The inevitable court challenge will get around to saying so. That’s what the Constitution is for: To protect us from members of Congress who think their own beliefs take precedence.
    Of course, there’s hardly any political capital to be acquired by defending the rights of obnoxious people to be offensive and shout obscenities at us. But, offensive obscenity is just about the only form of speech that anyone can be bothered to get upset about these days. Stern could read the entirety of Mein Kampf and not generate even a fraction of the publicity he gets from grossing out his audience. And, he knows which pays better, too.
    So, until the day after the November election, we’ll all have to put up with Stern pandering to his followers and then put up with sleazy politicians pandering to their followers.
    Won’t somebody save the children?? :-)

  • Gabriel Gonzalez

    This is my first (dangerous) foray into this whole stern-thing on your blog, since it’s not a big issue for me and I don’t find a priori objectionable the idea that the government is going to set some standards for decency. So, excuse my lack of background and maybe even deep thinking on all this.
    Anyway, I thought I noticed a while back that you had warned posters about indecent language on your blog and (if memory serves) expressed concern about your daughter (?) seeing it.
    Now, I know you will object to what I’m hinting at that this is your private blog, etc. and you are not the government. Yet, the specificity of the airways is that it’s everybody’s space and I’m not sure how comfortable I’d be with others fouling that space up (at least for my kids, who are young) during daytime hours, etc., so it doesn’t necessarily seem outrageous to me that:
    – one, at least widely shared minimal standards of decency could be agreed? and
    – two, the real issue should be limited to ensuring political neutrality in enforcing those agreed standards?
    Do you object to the very principle of a majority imposing minimal standards of decency? Or is that there is simply no way to ensure political neutrality and the dangers of censorship outweigh otherwise legitimate concerns?

  • susan

    No, billg.
    No one is going to save the children since it is children who are the entertainment industry’s primary market place, now and in the future.
    Stern gets to yank everybody chain and make millions. What a perfect scam, he draws them in at a young age so they will fight for him later on.
    Stern is one smart guy for having such a baseless show.
    Oprah’s show was addressing teenagers who are experiencing problems with deviant sexual activities such as those deviant sexual activities promoted by Stern’s radio show.
    On sure, Stern’s show and Oprah’s show are one in the same.
    I can’t believe I used the word ‘deviant’ in reference to sexuality amongst our politically correct society.
    This entire situation is hysterical.

  • Good God, Anne, can you spell irony?

  • Gabriel: Where do you draw the line and who draws it? Who gets to say what’s indecent? To some, mentioning the word “abortion” is indecent. To some, mentioning “Jesus” is indecent. To some, mentioning “homosexuals” is indecent. Slippery slope, not government’s role. It’s fine for a company say they will not air something bad and the market will force them to say that. It’s quite another matter for the government — specifically, Constitutionally forbidden from limiting speech — to limit it.

  • mike

    Jeff, it is still amazing to me the way you are so anti-censorship when it comes to airwaves owned by the government, and then so pro-censorship when it comes to your own blog. I still don’t understand how you can make that rationalizationl.
    For one, we have airwaves owned and regulated by the government pretty much since they existed. Rules that Stern (your poster-boy) has known of since he took to the airwaves. Then we have your personal blog. I understand that it is your personal blog so you make the rules, but nonetheless, it is on a medium not controlled by the government and yet you choose to regulate it by censoring words you feel shouldn’t be seen by others?
    Is it just that you know better than the government and can justify the words and sayings that can be deleted? And why is it that you do this, so your children or other kids can read your blog and comments without reading such vulgar words? How are other parents supposed to determine that content when they are not able to be with their kids at all times? Just curious why you adhere to such a double standard.

  • Tom

    Ooh, then people will start using “that thing you do with your wife/husband/girlfriend/boyfriend” as the terminology instead of using the “F-Word”. Seriously. Where does this stop?

  • Mike: It’s not censorship.
    Listen: When I edited a magazine, I chose which stories and photos and letters did and did not appear. Were the ones that didn’t make it in “censored”? No.
    And that was my choice as editor.
    The government has no role telling me what to include or not. When the government does, that is censorship.
    When you chose what to say here or not to say here, you are editing.

  • Mike

    Jeff, I disagree. When you outline that certain words are not allowed to be written I would say that is censorship. I’m sorry I don’t see how your reasoning differs from the government.

  • Barney Lerten

    Anne, well, he just linked to from my name because that’s where I work, but the posting said it was from the Well, the SF-based online conference site. I thought it was clear?
    And Mike, to me, the BIG difference is that the airwaves are publicly owned, and Jeff has his own Website. Now, one can argue that obscenity on a publicly owned medium is wrong, because it should be held to a higher standard, etc., but there is a big similarity – if ya don’t like it, don’t listen (or surf) to it.

  • MIke

    no Barney you’re wrong and so is Jeff…remember the internet is not controlled by the government, right? the airwaves are. this point is not diputable. so it’s not OK for the government to police its airwaves, but it’s ok for Jeff to police his? why is that? I know what the Constitution says, but you must agree this is the definition of double standard?

  • No, Mike, I “must not.”
    Howard Stern is free to put on her show or exclude from his show what he wants. If he elects not to put on references to “David Copperfield,” that is his judgment and choice. If he — or his bosses — stop a guest from talking about “David Copperfield,” that is his prerogative and choice. If the government tells him what he cannot say, that is different. If the government fines him so much he has to leave the air — and take his political speech against the current adminstration with him — well, that’s about as offensive as you can get.
    I have explained that I don’t use the F word here (though I certainly do elsewhere) because I don’t want this site to be blocked by private filters. My prerogative and choice. My house. My rules.

  • anne.elk

    Jeff, am I mistaken that your rationale for your “f word” policy has recently changed?
    I recall your banning one poster oh about six months ago over “the Bruce Willis flap”, and saying then that it was about keeping your son safe.
    “Just for the record: Jerry won’t learn. I said one should not use foul language because children happen by here. And he uses it again. So I killed his latest post.
    Posted by Jeff Jarvis at September 28, 2003 06:59 AM ”
    This is why I want to know how you and Dianne Feinstein differ.

  • Mike

    Jeff, your argument would be sound if the airwaves that Howard broadcasted over were his! They are not, and unfortunately they are regulated by our government. Much the same way we are regulated by the tyrannical rule of Jeff Jarvis here in the comments section. Your house, your rules. And I get that, and I wish you would get that about Howard and stop propping him up like some martyr to free speech. He has always practiced under the rule of the FCC (and has always disliked it, I don’t dispute that), but the fact remains that those rules have always been in place. If you want to change them, vote out those that voted for the stricter regulations!!!! At least we have that opportunity when it comes to the government. Unfortunately that same precedent does not exist in the comments section of your blog!

  • AndyB

    If everyone here still doesn’t understand the difference between censorship from the gov’t and editing/control of businesses/individuals, then maybe we need to give up on this discussion.
    If radio is owned by the gov’t then the internet is owned by the gov’t as well. If not, what is the difference – the internet came out of the darpa military projects.