Nucking futs!

Nucking futs!

: Just when you think this indecency fetish in Washington can’t get sicker, another legislator with a stick up his ass opens his mouth (and the stick protrudes):

The chairman of one of the entertainment industry’s most important congressional committees says he wants to take the enforcement of broadcast decency standards into the realm of criminal prosecution.

Rep. F. James Sensenbrenner III, R-Wis., told cable industry executives attending the National Cable & Telecommunications Assn. conference here on Monday that criminal prosecution would be a more efficient way to enforce the indecency regulations.

“I’d prefer using the criminal process rather than the regulatory process,” Sensenbrenner told the executives.

The current system — in which the FCC fines a licensee for violating the regulations — casts too wide a net, he said, trapping those who are attempting to reign in smut on TV and those who are not.

“People who are in flagrant disregard should face a criminal process rather than a regulator process,” Sensenbrenner said. “That is the way to go. Aim the cannon specifically at the people committing the offenses, rather than the blunderbuss approach that gets the good actors.

“The people who are trying to do the right thing end up being penalized the same way as the people who are doing the wrong thing.”

At last week’s Freedom to Connect, when I interviewed First Amendment attorney Bob Corn-Revere, he reminded the crowd that indecency is already a criminal matter; it’s not enforced that way. Now someone wants to.

Say, if I were on TV — and soon, if some have their way, on cable or satellite… or the internet — I could not only be fined up to $3 million a day under new legislation if I said “fuck Sensenbrenner,” he would now have me go to jail.

Well, fuck Sensenbrenner.

  • You seem unhappy with Sen. Sensenbrenner…

  • steve

    I will go down with you.
    Fuck Sensenbrenner.

  • Ladies? Ladies? How about a little decorum?
    Sen. Sensenbrenner ñ Your overheated rhetoric and threats are futile and counterproductive if lessening the coarseness on public airwaves is your goal. Not your job.
    Jeff Jarvis ñ Get an ice pack and wash your mouth out with soap.
    Both of you ñ grow up.

  • If indecency is already a “criminal matter; it’s not enforced that way,” then Sensenbrenner is simply calling for existing law to be enforced. So, don’t scream at Sensenbrenner for wanting to enforce a law, urge your representatives to change that law (preferably in a manner that doesn’t involve saying “fuck you”).

  • I see no need to fine or prosecute you simply because of your vulgar language, I will merely stop reading. After all aren’t we just chasing the wind anyway?

  • sad very sad indeed, I can only imagine that if that type of legislation were to pass, and it was retroactive, they would have to put me away for life, or jive me the death penalty.
    So WTF “fuck Sensenbrenner”

  • Fuck Sensenbrenner!
    I agree, it’s the appropriate response to his statements.
    Weird that he used so much violent pirate imagery to illustrate his absurd tactic. Maybe he’ll use a gangbang metaphor next, and we can all discuss the Constitution over a friendly game of wiffleball in prison.

  • Sensenbrenner is a Rep., not a senator. But fuck him anyway. Fuck him right in the ear.

  • Wow Jeff, you’re so brave. You know what would be really brave? Stick some ….um, images of questionable taste, on here. Come on Jeff, stick it to the man!

  • David

    Calm down Jeff. A criminal prosecution is not going to automatically end in a jail term. Please look at Sandy Berger. I am not sure I would find anything wrong with a misdemeanor prosecution rather than regulation. IF (and that is a big if) I thought Janet Jackson’s attempt at a life was bad and should be fined, she should take the hit, maybe MTV for producing it should take the hit and a misdemeanor isn’t a bad place for that.

  • I agree with David – and if your read Sensenbrenner’s comments with a clear & open mind, you see he’s trying to create a system that is better suited to penalize those who make aggregious offenses (flashing nudity, perhaps), and not create a regime of general fear of blanket censorship (stations afraid to air Saving Private Ryan).

  • EverKarl

    Your assault on the Democrats is not only relentless, but uncivil. At this rate, my banner demanding your resignation from this dimension will fill a 1600 x 1200 monitor. I’ll be posting it right after I polish off my jumbo bag of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups.

  • First off Hoodlumman he’s a Representative, not a Senator.
    Second, Sensebrenner has always been a jerk, a good friend was working for his committee when he took over as chair and the first thing the person did was find another job ASAP. So frankly, I am not surprised a bit that he has this opinion.

  • Accused violators might have more protections and better defenses available under criminal law rather than regualtory/administrative law.

  • EverKarl,
    OT – It looks like Oliver will be going on Jeff and Bill’s radio show.

  • Paw

    The problem with Mr. Zimmer’s previous comment regarding aggregious offenses vs. blanket censorship is that the FCC, whether it uses the criminal or regulatory process, will still continue to be vague about what actually constitutes an offense. As long as there is no clear definition, the FCC will force broadcasters to program in the blandest way possible whatever the penalty. The result for viewers is the same.

  • On flashing nudity: Would Schindler’s List have been considered obscene when NBC aired it because it has nudity? The FCC said Saving Private Ryan is ok, but only after the proposed air date AND after the FCC had ruled that the f-word is always never acceptable on broadcast television because it is so extreme as to always shock the conscience.
    So, if we criminalize/enforce existing criminal statutes, the same lingering question remains: who’s going to determine what is egregious and what isn’t? The government? How does that balance with the First Amendment? (Hint: it doesn’t.) Even if that responsibility falls to the government, why should we believe that they’ll offer a definitive guide to what is obscene and what isn’t? The FCC won’t do it. The courts haven’t done it.
    Are we really going to institute a policy of criminalization for offenses that no one will define beyond “I know it when I see it”?

  • Tony – i made up those categories re: flashing nudity, etc. and i personally don’t agree with criminalizing the broadcast of “obscenities,” and I don’t like the “know it when i see it” standard either. I’m just trying to think about this with a little more open mind than our host.
    Paw – “the FCC, whether it uses the criminal or regulatory process, will still continue to be vague about what actually constitutes an offense” My guess is that if offenses are perused via criminal law, the FCC isn’t a part of it at all. It would come down to federal criminal statutes and be prosecuted by the US Attorney’s office. (of course, i’m no lawyer, so i could be flat out wrong).

  • MWB

    With this post, Jeff, you’ve sunk to such depths that I no longer care to follow. You’re too juvenile to bother with anymore.
    So long, Buzzmachine.

  • magdalene13ftw69

    I don’t understand why everyone is having a freak out about all those colorful words they use on television. I like them.
    I’m sure there are much more pressing matters at hand. Gee….let me think…..war, poverty, crime, illiteracy, domestic abuse, the fact that I can’t afford to go to college (california). No, nevermind, I think enforcing broadcast decency standards wins. I’ll sleep more soundly when I know I don’t have to worry about seeing any tits and ass and/or shit and vulgarity on prime time television.
    thanx for the peace of mind Mr. Sensensbrenner

  • Eileen

    At the current ingestion rate, I’m a little concerned you’re going to develop a weighty issue of your own. At least consider some occasional roughage?

  • Fuck Sensenbrenner!

  • rhs

    OK. The Mrs. goes first — the rest of you, get in line.

  • Well… I don’t get it.
    And the fact that Mr Jarvis’ post does nothing to elucidate his objection doesn’t speak well of the integrity of his position, imho.
    The (increasingly marginalized) public airwaves are just that– a public resource, like roads, water, electricity, etc. And like those resources, the state has a defensible, a debatable but defensible right & duty to regulate it for the common good, in this case keeping a bazillion kids from being exposed to smut, etc.
    If you don’t agree– ok, don’t agree. But to simply scream “Nazis!”, which is what I’m perceiving here… it doesn’t advance reasoned discourse, eh? Honestly– what is the left’s obsession with this? Does it really seem to you like a boot stamping on a face forever that the state wants to regulate the word “fuck” on 13 of a bazillion channels?
    “…he would now have me go to jail.”
    He wants those who negligently ignore and disdain the law to suffer the possibility of jailtime. So?
    If you have a coherent objection, consider making it?

  • JimboC

    Sensenbrenner is to the House what Hollings was to the Senate. Everyone knew the wagon was not full and their legislation etc. went nowhere. Hollings retired but there is still Stevens to fill the clown shoes.

  • I was in the room when he said that and was surprised.
    Sensenbrenner (who is a Republican) had actually sounded reasonable up to that point. He said he had been impressed by the parental controls cable provided he had seen on the show floor.
    But he said that an indecency bill including cable would pass congress right now, so there needs to be more education.
    Indecency was discussed on almost every panel I went to at the National Show.
    I also spoke to FCC Commissioners Copps and Adelstein today. Copps said he thought there had been an overeaction (of self-censorship) in response to the events of the last year. And Adelstein also expressed concern similar to what he said on Unfiltered over the weekend.
    Some of the media ceos and heads of programming were said very strongly that cable should not be regulated. There was a particularly good panel on original programmming with people from FX, BBC America, Showtime, and TV One. I just got back from the final session, but I’ll write up some of my notes soon.

  • Am I the only one who thought that this post was pretty ironic considering the subject matter of the previous post?

  • EverKarl

    Thanks for the tip, though you undoubtedly noticed I’m bringing a little of Jeff’s style here to BuzzMachine.
    Thanks for your concern about my eating, but roughage must be avoided if one aspires to be full of it.

  • Del

    Thanks for that report Steve Rhodes. Thats somewhat reassuring. I look forward to your write up.
    Adelstein seems reasonable. Wish he would’ve been chairman instead of Martin.

  • Its a bunch of Nonsensenbrenner….
    Isn’t there something called the First Ammendment or something?
    And who gives them the power to regulate past public airwaves? ie… cable and satellite?
    What’s going on with the attempted regulation of the internet etc..?

  • Gregg

    Jeff remains silent to his critics….

  • Jeff – First, Sensenbrenner never mentioned jail time – no need to go off the handle like that. Who knows what type of criminal charge indecency would carry. My guess is that a trip to Aticca wouldn’t be involved.
    Second, doesn’t Sensenbrenner’s proposal support many of your own complaints of the FCC? That they’re casting too wide a net and everyone is afraid of airing anything because they don’t know what might fall under their purview? Using the procedures available in the criminal system rather than the regulatory regime, content providers would no longer be susceptible to the whims of the FCC and those who submit complaints.
    In total, wouldn’t the FCC’s power be diminished? Just want you want, right?

  • The problem with Mr. Zimmer’s previous comment regarding aggregious offenses vs. blanket censorship is that the FCC, whether it uses the criminal or regulatory process, will still continue to be vague about what actually constitutes an offense. As long as there is no clear definition, the FCC will force broadcasters to program in the blandest way possible whatever the penalty. The result for viewers is the same.
    Posted by Paw at April 5, 2005 05:48 PM
    Yes, but there is a clear definition. It’s called the First Amendment. Most everything the FCC is doing is unconstitional and we need to remind them that only a small minority want the FCC to do anything at all.

  • Diminishing the FCC’s power is obviously the goal for Constitutional reasons, but the solution isn’t to transfer that power from the FCC to a district attorney as Sensenbrenner proposes. Different gunman, same gun.

  • You might be right, Tony. I guess Sensenbrenner’s motivation might be that since we have existing indecency laws already on the books (indecent exposure, disturbing the peace, etc), perhaps its better to use that mechanism (targeted at specific criminal acts, jury of one’s peers, judicial review, etc) rather than the FCC (generally applied at their wim with little oversight). Sure, it might be the “same gun,” but perhaps a step in the right direction?

  • The fact that via the criminal system it is a jury of peers (citizens!!) that would decide the issue, and not the FCC commissioners (prigs!!), should be enough to make Jeff happy. Eh?

  • Michael –
    I’m not so sure that solution will “make Jeff happy.” I can’t to speak for him, but I think he’s coming more from a Left Libertarian point of view; i.e., he’s unhappy about government’s role in any of this. Although I drift toward another political direction, he may be right about that.
    Where we differ is, after having been lectured about civility so often here, it’s alarming to see the “f” bomb being tossed so casually. We shouldn’t be too disturbed by words, but angry hostility should give us pause.

  • I agree that having it decided by citizens instead of the FCC is a good idea, but probably only in theory. The FCC is made up of lawyers who refuse to follow the Constitution. Should we have confidence in lay people who don’t have a legal education? And it still doesn’t resolve the issue of the definition of obscenity. I don’t see legislatures defining it any time soon. So we’d have 12 citizens deciding the traditional “community standards” for everyone. Are we confident that that’s the best place to legislate for everyone?
    Of course, if indecency/obscenity becomes a criminal offense instead of a regulatory infraction, that puts it in the hands of prosecutors and defense attorneys. I bet the defense attorneys will be better funded than the prosecution and able to convince the juries of what the Constitution means, right?
    I don’t think so. In criminal cases, the facts are the facts. If someone commits murder, there are facts. There was a living person, now there is a dead person. The suspect’s fingerprints were on the gun. Simple. (I simplify for the purpose of my point.)
    Ok, now apply that logic to indecency/obscenity. The producer of Fox’s latest reality show airs a segment that contains the phrase “He’s an ass.” A tv viewer in Peoria, IL decides that she doesn’t like that and complains to her local district attorney. The local DA files criminal charges. The jury of twelve peers decides for the city of Peoria that “He’s an ass,” violates their standards. The jury deliberation is closed, so we don’t know how they specifically came to this conclusion. Either way, “He’s an ass,” is no longer acceptable on television in Peoria.
    At the same time, a viewer in Clearwater, FL also disapproves of the phrase “He’s an ass.” He complains to his local DA and the case goes to trial. Now the producer must stand trial in two districts. Of course, in this case, the producer is acquitted, so the phrase “He’s an ass,” is still acceptable on television in Clearwater, FL.
    See any problems yet? I count at least two. Ok, so what do we do? To (hopefully) eliminate the need to defend himself in every jurisdiction and to have conflicting standards for local broadcasts, Congress passes legislation that makes indecency/obscenity a federal offense. Community standards (Federalism?) are no longer relevant. It’s national standards now, but so as not to offend anyone, we set that standard at the lowest level possible rather than the reasonable person standard supposedly in place today. Sound familiar yet?
    Of course, with this idea, federal prosecutors are now the clearing house for criminal complaints. The PTC continues to catalog every possible offense occurring on television. They send lists on a daily/weekly basis to the federal prosecutor’s office. There are too many requests, so the federal prosecutor hires more attorneys to handle the case load, to review what should and shouldn’t warrant criminal charges. Eventually Congress decides that the case load is too much and creates the, oh, I don’t know, the Federal Deptartment of Homeland Decency to handle these cases.
    Criminalizing indecency/obscenity doesn’t change the situation; it just moves the disregard for the Constitution from one place to another. Again, different gunman, same gun.

  • rivlax

    Are you going through a midlife crisis or something? What’s with all the potty language recently? It doesn’t become you. Your three-word coda to Sensenbrenner was just asinine. If I didn’t know better I’d suspect your site had been hijacked by a 14-year-old.

  • Michael

    Why do I have to pay cable TV for spanish TV channels that I cannot understand?
    As for the psuedo-intellectual banter utilizing f-word rantings reminiscent of school yard pre-pubescent teen angst found here on buzz…, at least I have the choice to ignore such drivel and do not have to pay for it.
    Whereas, comcast requires me to currently pay for three spanish language channels.
    Personally, this upsets me more…

  • Karen
  • Mark