F***ing Private Ryan II
: Newspapers are editorializing over some stations’ decision not to air “Saving Private Ryan” for fear of being fined by the ever-more-obscenely-unconstitutional FCC…. coming too damned late to the party to protect our First Amendment. (See my complaint to the FCC below.)
The Chicago Tribune gets it right:
Much has been made of the foul-mouthed Howard Stern’s coming move to satellite radio to escape the Federal Communications Commission’s increasingly Draconian interpretation of its indecency rules. And of the FCC’s overkill in fining CBS Television parent Viacom Inc. $550,000 for the infamous Janet Jackson Super Bowl halftime show. And of its loopy finding that rock star Bono’s use of an expletive on a televised awards show was indecent and profane.
Some have argued that such behavior deserves to be singled out for punishment. But the reality is that in setting its sights on curbing a few fleeting and isolated instances of excess, the FCC’s crackdown is chilling all broadcasters. It’s threatening to scrub powerful programming from the air in favor of pablum that takes no chances in offending anyone.
And viewers will lose the most….
With the prospect of FCC fines hanging over their heads–and Congress still deciding about whether to dramatically increase those fines–some broadcasters are playing it safe. They’re guessing what the FCC may do. They’re running scared.
There’s only one word for this: censorship. And it needs to stop.
The FCC–and Congress–have to back off.
Amen and well said, Tribune.
The New York Times gets it way wrong, blaming the stations when they should be blaming the f***ing FCC:
But the pre-emptive timidity of a score of them was a sorry spectacle last Thursday when they decided not to show “Saving Private Ryan” on Veterans Day because they were afraid of the Federal Communications Commission.
You fools, you: The fault lies strictly with the FCC, which made it clear that “fuck” is illegal on TV, even though it refused to advise these stations that in this case it would not be — in other words, it refused to make its rules clear. The stations are actually brave, in my view, calling the FCC’s bluff, showing its regulation for what it is: senseless censorship. Shame on you, Times, for not understanding that. You whine about the chill on Judith Miller brought by a subpoena involving knowledge of an illegal act, but you do not see the chill that the FCC and government regulation bring to all media and all speech. For shame, Times.
Sure, the movie is violent and reveals that soldiers are known to use unpleasant language while under fire. But at a time when thousands of Americans are engaged in another conflict, reminding their compatriots back home that war is hell is not such a bad thing.
Moreover, the prudish desire to keep any profanity off the air, regardless of its context, is misguided…. The ABC affiliates that refrained from airing the movie could have shown more valor, but they are as much a victim of the FCC’s arbitrary and capricious regulation as they are villains in this tale. Their fear of the jihad is understandable, and their surrender Thursday serves to highlight just how destructive the FCC’s crackdown on indecency has become.
The commission has been targeting the broadcast industry for the last year or so, prodded on by such Taliban-like zealots as the American Family Assn. and the Parents TV Council (which did issue a ruling exempting “Private Ryan” from its campaigns) and their allies in Congress….
Rather unhelpfully, the commission has pledged to judge the airing of supposed profanity on a case-by-case basis. This, coupled with the FCC’s refusal to provide advance guarantees to affiliates that it wouldn’t take action if they aired “Saving Private Ryan,” makes it look as if the commission’s main priority is to tailor its response to whatever level of pressure it feels from self-appointed morality guardians. This is not only cowardly on the part of FCC Chairman Michael Powell and his fellow commissioners, it’s probably unconstitutional.
But in the end, all these editorial pages are chicken-stupid. You waited to defend the First Amendment and your and our free speech… you waited until they went after Steven Spielberg and Private Ryan. You should have protested when they went after Howard Stern and Janet Jackson and Bono, you fools. But you waited. For shame.