May 06, 2009 The indecency of penalizing George Carlin’s seven dirty words
Welcome to Singapore — I mean the United States Supreme Court — which this week allowed the Federal Communications Commission to fine television and radio stations for fleeting expletives, where such allegedly indecent words as those from George Carlin’s list of seven can get a broadcaster severely fined even if the broadcaster has no reason to know the speaker is going to utter those words on a live program. FCC v. Fox Television Stations, ___ U.S. ___ (May 4, 2009).
Of course, the Supreme Court’s Fox New ruling is not limited to words, as witnessed by the court’s telling the Third Circuit on the same day, Mary 4, to reconsider its reversal of the $500,000 fine against CBS for Janet Jackson’s Super Bowl split-second exposed nipple.
Praised be the four Fox Television dissenters: Justices Stevens, Souter, Ginsburg and Breyer.
President Obama: In picking Justice Souter’s replacement, please focus heavily on preventing such abominations to the Constitution as Fox Television Stations.