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March 19, 2004
FCC Moves to Regulate Hate Speech?
Over @ Importance Of..., copyfighter Ernest Miller
has (yet) another must-read--a lengthy analysis
of the FCC decision
(PDF) on the Bono/Golden Globes "f-word" incident
(see the FCC press release
The news in a nutshell? In the wake of Janet Jackson's "wardrobe malfunction," the FCC has reversed its previous position on Bono's use of the word "fucking"--as in "this is really, really fucking brilliant." This use has now been deemed "profane."
Although 18 USC 1464 has always given the FCC jurisdiction over "obscene, indecent or profane language," the FCC has never based any fine on "profane" language, preferring to rely on indecency rulings. Given the newness of this interpretation of the law and the vagaries of the definition of "profane," this might be the most far reaching of the FCC's recent assaults on freedom of expression.
"Profane" can't be about blasphemy, that would raise all sorts of freedom of religion issues, but it has to be distinct from "indecent." I think that leaves hate speech. Seems to me the FCC has decided that it wants to regulate the broadcast of hate speech.
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