First they came for Howard Stern… and then they came for you

First they came for Howard Stern… and then they came for you

: Few were standing up protesting when the FCC went after Howard Stern…. Few were yelling about the slippery slope of government censorship…. Until it put a chill on airing Saving Private Ryan. Then the newspaper editorials finally started to act alarmed, as well they should.

Here are two more that should alarm you:

First, here’s a Billboard story saying that the FCC will go after satellite next:

With envelope-pushing air talent like Howard Stern and Opie & Anthony flocking to the less-restricted refuge of satellite radio, could the Federal Communications Commission be far behind?

Specifically, could the FCC enforce its indecency rules — which Stern claims drove him away from terrestrial radio — on satellite radio too?

That’s exactly what Saul Levine is hoping for. On Oct. 29, Levine, the president of Mt. Wilson FM Broadcasters, filed a Petition for Rulemaking to amend Part 25 of the FCC’s pending satellite radio rules to include an indecency provision.

While legal experts say subscription radio enjoys deeper First Amendment protections than free radio, Levine’s petition argues that the FCC is, in fact, empowered to enforce indecency rules on satellite radio and asks the commission to “level (the) playing field.” …

According to Levine’s petition, the FCC already has subjected satellite radio to Equal Employment Opportunity and political broadcasting rules and policies. What’s more, the petition says, the type of radio service (i.e., broadcast, common carrier, etc.) “is not a relevant consideration” in the imposition of programing or public-interest rules, nor is whether satellite radio operates as a broadcast or subscription service. In fact, the FCC put satcasters on notice in 1997 that it “may adopt additional public-interest requirements at a later date.”

An unnamed Senate staffer and First Amendment attorney Robert Corn-Revere also say in that story that this won’t work because satellite is a paid service you choose to get and because the First Amendment won’t allow it. But that won’t stop them from trying. Just watch.

The second story is in today’s Wall Street Journal arguing that computers and the internet are the next target of the prudes, prigs, and self-appointed national nannies:

If America gets serious about doing battle over “values,” will the Internet-enabled personal computer be able to stay out of the crosshairs?

It’s a wonder that no one has yet run for office by campaigning against the computer. After all, you couldn’t ask for a better sin-delivery system than a PC with a fast Web connection….

According to their stereotypes, conservatives worry about sex while liberals worry about violence, and the world according to the personal computer provides a lot about which both sides can fret….

If you don’t protect Howard Stern’s speech from government censorship, yours is not far behind.