The enemies of First Amendment

The enemies of First Amendment

: The House just passed the indecent indecency bill 389-38. As soo as I can, I will put up the names of the brave 38 lawmakers who voted for the First Amendment.

: The Center For Creative Voices in Media — an anti-media-concentration group — says:


  • Jeff, here is the link to the Rollcall vote.

  • Thomas: THanks much!

  • James Sloan

    Thanks for the listing. I notice that Ron Paul, Republican from Texas is listed. I’m not surprised at all. Word is that he keeps a copy of the Constitution with amendments in his pocket, and whenever it comes time to vote on a piece of legislation, he pulls out the Constitution and checks to see if it permits the legislation. If so, he votes yes, if not he votes no. Would that there were more like him in Congress.

  • Franky

    This is the tragedy of the religious right takeover of the Republican party. They used to be a core of Republicans who could be counted upon to stand up to the nanny-statish tendencies of some democrats. These republicans would argue for politics of personal responsibility against a “leave-it-to-government” mentality. Now with that libertarian streak all but gone, we’re left with those who want to regulate in the name of what they find decent or not.

  • Mike

    Jeff, just curious what you would do to the public airwaves that are TV and Radio? It’s not like people don’t have the opportunity to purchase movies, shows, magazines and etc. that they wish to see, no matter the content. No one is taking away that right. I can still choose to watch Debbie Does Dallas, I just have to go rent it or buy it, I just can’t expect to watch that on CBS.
    That seems fair to me. It also seems fair that we would have to draw the line somewhere when it comes to free access of content over the radio and television. Where would you draw it? How would you regulate it? I would hardly call myself a fan of the FCC, but I still think someone needs to regulate it. I just wish they could better define the standards.

  • Mike

    389-38, I didn’t know there were that many Republicans in the House.

  • C’mon


  • AST

    I wonder how many of those reps voted for hate crimes legislation.
    I don’t think this is “tragic.” It’s just democracy in action. I suspect that a lot of those voting for the bill are counting on the courts to nullify it, so they can claim to have represented the will of the people. I don’t think the Constitution supports public indecency. If it did a lot of local laws against “lewdness” would have been stricken long ago.

  • Maxine Waters gets it right again. :)

  • There certainly is alot of handwringing over this. I think alot of people are getting caught up in the rather unfortunate name, “Decency Endforcement Act” or “Indecency Act” as its being called rings a little 1984ish. But the truth is very little is changing, just the dollar amounts – enough to make Viacom size companies notice they done wrong. The real issue here is many people don’t believe the government has the right to regulate the air waves at all. The airwaves is seen as being equivalent to shouting in the public square — and they are an equally public place in a very real sense. Now those people who think the airwaves represent a more private form of speech, the “Change the channel” crowd, should be more honest: they aren’t against this bill precisely, rather they’re against any government regulartion of the medium at all.

  • the bigger problem, Secular, is that the lawmakers are passing this bill that will increase the fines DESPITE the fact that the rules that are tied to the fines are ever-changing and based in politics.
    if the FCC would define indecency and/or provide a list of things that they will fine consistantly and/or fine every broadcaster and performer equally then the matter of the cost of the fines wouldn’t be greeted with such disdain as Jeff is presenting here.

  • Jim

    Why should I have to PAY for the right to choose. Every thing you mentioned is a private commerical choice. The PUBLIC Airwaves are just that- public. I’m an adult. I don’t want Barney the Dinosaur and Sesame Street as my choices but apparently Rebublicans do.

  • >>>I suspect that a lot of those voting for the bill are counting on the courts to nullify it, so they can claim to have represented the will of the people.
    Ast: I think it’s a stretch to assume that the House members are thinking this way. If they are, then they’ve abdicated their responsibility to the Constitution in favor of a soundbite. That wouldn’t be a surprise, of course, but the real travesty will be if (hopefully when) a court strikes this down, the mass sprint for the nearest microphone to complain about “activist judges” not protecting the will of the people. That’s why it’s important for those of us who respect the First Amendment to voice our dissent.
    Secular: you’re right to assume that I think Congress has no authority to regulate speech, whether decent or indecent, but I’m also a realist. I don’t presume to think I can just stomp my feet in anger and pout at my Congressman to get him to vote for the Constitution. Unfortunately, I have to voice my opinion every time something like this comes up. Anything else would be irrational.

  • Mike

    Jim your argument doesn’t make sense. Where in the Constitution are you given the right to watch TV or listen to the radio? Where are you given the right to have choices? Where do you get your sense of entitlement?
    And Jim the airwaves are called public, but they are most certainly not owned by us. They are public in the sense that they are provided to the public, but it’s not like you can just start broadcasting on one of these frequencies.
    And tony, believe or not, I think your statement above is dead on correct. The restrictions put forth by the FCC change with the times and need to be tied down.

  • Mike

    And that would be small ‘t’ tony above, Mr. Pierce’s comments.

  • Mike, the Constitution doesn’t mention a lot of things specifically, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t apply. “Congress shall make NO LAW…abridging the freedom of speech…”. The FCC was created by Congress, it’s members are political appointees, and it has the force of law to levy fines. It’s very existence is un-Constitutional. If it simply regualted airwave channels and bands, fine. Regulating CONTENT however, is un-constitutional and wrong.

  • /pd

    I have not read the complete Statutory document. am I understanding this correctly or not ??
    1) That the $$ amount now has been bumped up ?
    2) FCC have carefully crafted new words in the defination– “The FCC defines indecency as

  • HH

    “Maxine Waters gets it right again.”
    For the first time, more like. Is she still blaming AIDS on the CIA?

  • C’mon

    Jim, You really think you watch broadcast TV for free? You really think there’s $5.00 worth of corn in a Corn Flakes box? Oh you’re pain’ friend you’re payin’.

  • “Thank you Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake”, he said ironically as he paid his satellite bill.

  • hey, my rep voted against the bill, so i guess i’m satisfied. well, not really. i’d be satisfied if the bill had NOT passed.

  • worrywart

    Mike, you make no sense. If the “public” owns the airwaves, then I should get just as much say as James Dobbson about what is decent and indecent. The truth is that majority does not rule when it comes to determining what is and what is not indecent. Everybody’s got an as-ho–, er, I mean opinion. So, trying to regulate this is like trying to heard kittens.
    If you’re worried about indecency on TV, obviously your idea of indescent isn’t what the rest of the country thinks because plenty of indescent TV is top of the ratings chart. So, now, a handful of regulators get to dictate what they think the rest of the country should think is indecent, even when they have absolutely no way of knowing that.

  • Ray_G

    Let’s have a consistency check: how many of those 38 also voted against the McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform, which, IMO, is a much greater violation of the 1st Ammendment than this act.
    // humor mode on//
    I bet that Representative Ron Paul rarely votes yes.
    // end humor mode //

  • Kat

    Wilson Kolb–PLEASE unfuck yourself.

  • Seriously, Jeff. What did you think was going to happen when you became a part of the right-wing noise machine that has spent the past 30 years trashing the opposition to the point where these types of people now control the entire government and can have their way? So suck it up and bask in what you’ve helped accomplish.

  • J.A. Marrit

    Smut has nothing whatsoever to do with (a) the First Amendment or (b) creativity. And in any event nobody’s inalienable right to smut is being in the least bit infringed or inconvenienced. For crying out loud, we’re positively drowning in it

  • Kat

    The funniest thing is the calling of the smut procucers, creative artists. But it does work. In Canada some filthy pedophile named Robin Sharpe, publishes smut where he has pics of kiddies being beaten, abused, and butt screwed by old men like himself. He was sued for child pornography, but won the case when Canada’s Supreme Court deemed his pedophilic garbage as ART.

  • Kat: Please don’t feed that troll.

  • Kat’s right. This isn’t about art. I’m a creative artist, and this isn’t a “tragedy” for me.
    The “tragedy” is for *businessmen*… fat cats (who Democrats would detest if it was any business but *theirs*) who are more worried about their bottom line than any obligation or responsibility they owe to the public.
    However, I want to take a moment to applaud JJ, because I understand his motives, and he makes a good case, even though I disagree with him. I’m glad that he’s pursuing this since it’s something he believes in strongly.
    And it’s so much harder these days to find engaging personalities who are independent of party ideologies. It was asked before, elsewhere, but I think that’s why the moderate Democrat here has so many right-wing followers in his comments.

  • I’m taking donations to fill Wilson’s prescription so we can get him back on his meds. Be compassionate, people.

  • I’ve had my fill of the troll. The bridge fell on him. This is my house and I reserve the right to kick the trolls out.

  • dries

    normally. i’d say it was a tally of “mentally handicapped” at the congress but they got it right this time . did they all stumble at voting correctly once, or reflectively/instinctively reacted to what they thought was a “right wing agenda” act?

  • Amy

    I can’t understand why so many Dems voted FOR the Indecency Act.

  • Freedom of speech, sure; but not on the public airwaves. On cable, sure- but not on CBS.
    I do not blame you for holding your opinion, but I do fault you for your misuse of the 1st ammendment.
    We can use zoning laws to keep strip clubs out of residential neighborhoods, and we can keep hard core porn off of network TV. As for the gray areas- we can debate them- but you should acknowledge the fact that this is not a call to arms on the first ammendment.

  • Jeff,
    Whatever they say you are doing a huge service for us and the people who don’t agree with you.
    I enjoy reading your blog everyday.
    Keep buzzing on!

  • I’m totally against smut.
    What I want is shows about animals rutting and educational bits on sexual hygene. With pictures.
    What really needs to be outlawed are dogs and cats that copulate freely on our streets and no one seems to mind. It is a disgrace that animals can walk around unclothed.
    The answer of course is continual reading of the best bits of the Bible.
    I particularly like the bit about women lusting after donkey dicks. Size queens even in the good old days? Harumpf.

  • Speaking of Bible bits:
    Smut is where you find it. I’m looking in the Bible.

  • Over at my place I’m discussing smut and what will be needed to pass muster in the theocon age. Here are a few ideas:
    “Lot’s Daughters”. “Don’t Marry Foreign Donkey Dicks”. “David and the Concubines”. “Abraham’s Wives”. “Stoned for Adultry”. “I was King David’s Sex Slave”. “Uriah’s Wife”. etc.
    Did I mention the Song of Solomon? Breasts. Mmmmmmm. I’d like to hear that sung on the radio every day. Any one know the tune?

  • Ray_G

    From Tom Leher’s song “Smut” – “when correctly viewed, everything is lewd”

  • Mark Jeffries

    It should be noted that there is a precedent for the FCC not being involved in content.
    In 1971, Zenith Radio decided to sell its Chicago radio station WEFM, the first commercially-licensed FM in the U.S. and a classical music format, feeling that FM had grown enough that they didn’t need to own a station to promote sales of FM radios. The new owner, General Cinema (yes, the movie theater owners), wanted to change the station to a Top 40 format. The Chicago cultural community, unified by a fight that made the Tribune Co. give up their recent purchase, classical music station WFMT, to public TV station WTTW (the alleged cause was media concentration, although more likely it was a fear that the Trib, still identified then with Col. McCormick, was going to get rid of Studs Terkel and the war protesting folk singers on “The Midnight Special”–yes, before the Wolfman Jack show on TV), started a “Citizens Committee to Save WEFM” (no matter that besides WFMT, there was one other commercial classical music station in the city) and succeeded to get a court injunction hours before the format switch in the spring of 1972 (with billboards on the streets for the new station and an ad in the Tribune the next day that couldn’t be pulled). But when the group tried to get the FCC to take away General Cinema’s license for WEFM, the commission stated that they had no business getting involved in program content and announced that any future license challenges based on format changes would be rejected.
    Moral: If the FCC felt that they should not be directly involved in regulating content in 1972, they should not be now, whether it be Bach over the Beatles or alleged “indecency” (and where on broadcast television can you see hard-core smut anywhere–tell me?).
    (BTW, General Cinema finally switched WEFM to Top 40 in 1978 after agreeing to pay for programming and staffing for NPR station WBEZ [said programs and staff disappeared by the mid-80s]. The format eventually bombed, thanks to WLS still being a juggernaut on one end and the sudden popularity of WLUP with male teens thanks to the “Disco Sucks” movement. The station went to middle-of-the-road music in 1981 and was sold in 1983–it’s now Infinity-owned country music WUSN. General Cinema got out of radio, went bankrupt and was absorbed by AMC. WFMT is now the only commercial classical station in Chicago and is still owned by WTTW.)

  • Mike

    (and where on broadcast television can you see hard-core smut anywhere–tell me?).
    What kind of question are you asking? Of course you can’t see hard-core smut on television anywhere, it’s regulated, it’s not allowed. Are you suggesting that if there were no FCC to regulate content that some station wouldn’t go down this road and start to broadcast porn?

  • jeremy in NYC

    Well, I don’t know if he is suggesting that, Mike, but I sure am.
    Look at it this way: movie studios are free to produce all the hardcore crap they want. And yet, somehow, they don’t even want to get an NC-17, and use great efforts to avoid them. My local Loew’s isn’t showing any hardcore stuff; neither is my local Blockbuster carrying it.
    For the same reasons, I wouldn’t expect broadcast stations to pick it up – it doesn’t make sense from a market standpoint, and a lot of people who work for these companies have pride in not being purveyors of hardcore smut.

  • Mike

    Jeremy, that is an interesting and rather persuasive argument. Put in that context I can see how stations would be reluctant to show it. Of course, Blockbuster and Loew’s are making business decisions to try and not drive away customers and attract families to their outlets.
    Television stations would not have to worry about that because everyone has a TV, they all recieve the same signals. Sure the major players would stop short of showing porn, but by getting rid of the FCC regulations, what’s to stop someone from broadcasting pornos from their house?

  • Dee

    I want to make this simple and plain. Some topics should be kept private. How many are as sick to death of watching that toothy idiot smiling like some dumb — donkey on the commercial advertising male enhancement? The commercial it’s self is a mockery of intelligence. Airing such a piece during prime time is irresponsible and should be fined at the very least. Same for the ED ads. Young children are watching TV from 3:30 to 10:00 P.M. and should not be exposed to adult content.
    If the industry would use good judgement, it would not be necessary for the FCC or anyone else to pass laws to make them do it.

  • Karen
  • Chap
  • Mark