Supreme Court upholds tough fines for broadcasts of ‘fleeting’ expletives

Washington D.C., Apr 29, 2009 / 12:07 am (CNA).- In what family advocates called a “huge victory,” the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) may impose significant fines on television broadcasters for airing “fleeting” expletives.

The justices, in a 5-4 decision, said federal law has long prohibited the broadcast of indecent language. According to the Los Angeles Times, Justice Antonin Scalia referred to the perpetrators of several incidents as the “foul-mouthed glitteratae from Hollywood.” One such incident cited by Scalia involved the entertainer Cher using the “F-word” during a live Fox network broadcast at the Billboard Music Awards. The event had about 2.5 million minor viewers, Justice Scalia said.

Praise God! However, what I’d like to know is why are people on television still allowed to take God’s name in vain and get away with it? :frowning:

I get tired of hearing so much profanity and obscenity in movies! It has got to the point it isn’t even shocking anymore, just banal. Radio and television are going in the same direction, although not as fast. I hope the broadcasters will clean up the bad language. I hope they do not just “beep” it out.

I got so sick of the FCC and the PSA’s that I don’t listen to terrestrial radio anymore.

I now have Sirius/XM and I have a choice channels now. Catholic channels that I never got in my area and the talk radio I can listen to liberal, moderate, conservative. At work I can listen online. The commercial free music channels wow.

I never thought I would ever pay to listen to radio but I tell you what once I got it; I just love it:thumbsup:

I’ve had XM for two years in June, but I am getting tired of it and may cancel soon. It was fun when it was novel. I have not cancelled so far mainly because when I drive in the boondocks I can get good stations and not have to seach around the dial. Around cities, though, I don’t use it as much.

I have Sirius and the best of XM.

The other day I had to drive the wife’s car because she thinks it’s against law for women to put gas in a car so I went to top it off.

She doesn’t listen to the radio so she just has terrestrial radio from the driveway to gas station and back home I went channel surfing and all I got was commercials. Drove me nuts.

I hope they stay in business I’ll never go back terrestrial radio. I’ve got in my truck, I have the boom box, and I installed the repeater so I can listen to in any room in the house.

I usually hear them bleep it out, if it’s on a talk show or some other pre-recorded broadcast. However, I’m not sure if it really qualifies as obscenity, or if broadcasters do this out of sensitivity to a good chunk of viewers who would object. So I’m uncertain whether such use could be fined if it were only fleeting.

[quote=OriginalJS]I get tired of hearing so much profanity and obscenity in movies! It has got to the point it isn’t even shocking anymore, just banal. Radio and television are going in the same direction, although not as fast.

This article isn’t talking about the profanity we hear in movies or say NYPD Blue, but the fleeting expletives where because it’s live the broadcasters are unable to bleep it out. The broadcasters made the reasonable claim that they had no power to stop such broadcasts, and thus shouldn’t be held responsible. With SCOTUS at least somewhat on the side of the FCC’s harder line, my suspicion is that broadcasters will end up being on the hook to some degree. If that turns out to be the case, I expect that those appearing on live broadcasts will have to sign a contract with the broadcaster promising to be responsible for any fines incurred by their unwise choice of words.

In a similar order,

The Supreme Court told a lower court yesterday to reconsider its ruling that threw out a $550,000 fine against CBS for the split-second television broadcast of singer Janet Jackson’s breast during the 2004 Super Bowl halftime show.

myself being someone who cringes whenever i hear someone say “Jesus Christ” or something similar as a form of expletive, i’d still offer a couple thoughts on this:

A: if we ban people from saying words that offend “religion a”, then we’d have to ban people from saying words that offend “religion b” and “religion c”. no culinary shows reviewing wines. no commercials promoting bacon. no speaking of God by name, period, regardless of intent, since that’s still a sin for Jews.

B: what exactly IS God’s name, and how would one take it in vain? Since the term “God” (which we currently sometimes use in this language/culture for the Almighty) is derived from the name for a pagan German diety “got”, is there any actual intrinsic holiness in that, or any, collection of syllables emanating from the fluid evolution of linguistics in cultures? The phrase “Jesus Christ!” bother me so much I can barely type it without wincing, but why? I think it’s because that collection of syllables still resonates so purely with ideas of Jesus that it hurts to hear His “name” being used in such a way…If I use it, I think it’s likely I’m taking His name in vain. but what if a person didn’t have such exclusively-Him associations with that phrase? sure they’ve heard it in reference to Jesus, but just as often in their circles it was used to mean something completely different. For that person, would those syllables still exlusively be “the Lord’s name”? Probably not, in which case, when they say it they might NOT be taking the Lord’s name in vain.

Just some things to think about. Personally, I think outlawing the use of any set of syllables is retroactive and unnatural.

Personally, we need to grow up and tell the government we are not children. This sort of institutionalized demagoguery is embarrassing and an unnecessary intrusion of government power in the life of society.

I’ve actually heard idiots say “I swear to Buddha.” Let’s not forget “H E double toothpicks” and a slew of other inanities.

The F word, the S word and a whole lot of others are unfortunately part of society and use of the police power to regulate them is a fascistic remedy that has no relationship to good government or a just society. When you use the police power to criminalize or penalize what is common - you give the government too much power.

Agreed. There are certain scenes in movies or TV where it’s unrealistic to ban bad language. A war, torture, or other high-pressure scene just seems stupid when the characters are saying “oh ****! i’m in trouble!” The market can control this. Obviously, if swears start popping up on kids’ programming, parents will turn it off, and that’s the end of that. I’m fairly sure they can police themselves wisely and limit swears to programming likely to be enjoyed by people who don’t mind that. Some FX shows like Rescue Me use almost every swear word (the F word is the only one they don’t), and they are on late and enjoyed by people who are fairly non-phased by such things.

A child can just as easily hear such a word on the street or half the time from a parent (which is definitely inappropriate but still it’s reality) - banning words is not something I support.

please know my intention is not to appall you with the following, but we’re all adults (if that should matter) so… since you bring up children’s programming, it begs the question: what is the difference between “wee-wee” and “d-ck”? “poop” and “sh-t”? “pee-pee” and “p-ss”?

don’t worry, i have enough sense and respect not to use “dirty” words around someone else’s children, but it strikes me as a ludicrously arbitrary makeshift value system. a moral crutch that artificially simplifies and confuses our understanding of good and bad. the kid who humiliates another kid in school without using any buzzwords will catch a far lesser punishment then the other kid who stubs his toe and says “f-ck! that hurt!”

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