Sticks & Stones & $&@%#!!!!

By Vassilaros, Dimitri | Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, June 8, 2007 | Go to article overview

Sticks & Stones & $&@%#!!!!


Vassilaros, Dimitri, Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review


When the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals canceled a new Federal Communications Commission policy penalizing broadcasters for airing impromptu expletives -- because the FCC could be violating the First Amendment -- supporters of censorship feared that Monday's ruling would open the floodgates of filth.

And it did. A stream of four-letter words spewed from commission Chairman Kevin Martin.

But after guffawing about the irony, should anyone give a darn about so-called bad words?

The FCC may fine a radio or TV owner or even revoke his government-issued license to use the public airwaves. Broadcasters appreciate the consequences of not adhering to agency rules.

The case was about a series of unscripted obscenities (a four- letter word for making whoopee, and one for excrement) used as exclamations by Bono, Cher and Nicole Richie during awards shows broadcast live.

The court rightly ruled that the very murky guidelines about what might be indecent were ''arbitrary and capricious.'' The rough rule of thumb is that from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. the airwaves should be family-friendly so no child could be exposed to "adult" subject matter.

Alas, the court did not outlaw the policy. The FCC might decide to write new rules or appeal. Dang.

Mr. Martin was so miffed by the ruling that he issued a two-page news release peppered with those two four-letter words.

In his screed opposing dirty words, he used those two -- spelled out and in quotes -- 10 times. Only three were direct quotes from the controversial broadcasts.

Mr. Martin was unavailable for interview, said commission spokeswoman Tamara Lipper. But she admitted that, until this ruling, broadcasting his news release verbatim could've been ruled indecent by his agency, depending on the context. …

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