Now YOU Can Tell the FCC Not to Waste Time on 'Indecency'

JESUSLAND—Fans of the adult industry (and, of course, the people who are in it) have seen a few tits (and cocks) in their time—but the fact is, there probably isn't a single living American over the age of 10—and for those who were breastfed, below the age of 3—who hasn't seen at least one bare tit... so how does one explain the outrage (expressed by almost one and a half million complaints to the Federal Communications Commission) at Justin Timberlake having pulled off a piece of Janet Jackson's costume during the 2004 Super Bowl halftime show, exposing her breast and nipple for nine-sixteenths of a second?

AVN readers probably recall the hoopla attendant to that "scandal," where the FCC's attempts to fine CBS Corp, Inc. and its affiliates half a million dollars for the broadcast was twice overturned by the Third U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and finally dismissed when the U.S. Supreme Court elected not to accept certiorari when the FCC appealed the Third Circuit's decision.

In fact, the FCC has a piss-poor track record when it comes to getting its charges of broadcast indecency upheld by courts. At both the Appeals Court and Supreme Court levels, it lost its attempts to fine Fox Broadcasting for various "vulgarities" ("shit," "fucking," etc.) broadcast during the 2002 and 2003 Billboard Music Awards, and ABC, Inc. for allowing audiences to see actress Charlotte Ross's ass and some side-tit on an episode of NYPD Blue, and most recently, it dropped its attempt to fine 13 Fox Broadcasting affiliates more than $71,000 for having broadcast, in 2003, a severely pixelated "nude" woman riding cowgirl on a prospective beau at a bachelor party during the series Married in America.

With a track record like that, it's not surprising that retiring FCC Chair Julius Genachowski made one of his last important acts a "review[ of] its indecency enforcement policy to ensure the agency carries out Congress's directive in a manner consistent with vital First Amendment principles."

Sadly, unlike, say, background checks to assure that potential gun owners don't have criminal records or histories of mental illness, nobody's polling the American public regarding whether they have any interest at all in a government agency—let's call it "the FCC"—putting the bite on broadcasters for minor (or even major) airings of "naughty words" or images that fall far, far short of anything one could see in an adult movie (or even many produced by Hollywood), not to mention myriad cable TV shows like Game of Thrones or Forbidden Science or Lingerie that feature nudity and/or simulated sex in nearly every episode. Turns out that roughly 90 percent of the American population thinks background checks of would-be gun owners are a good idea; how many would agree that fining a TV or radio network for the unplanned utterances of guests on talk/variety shows or for broadcasting pixelated (supposedly) nude human bodies is worth anybody's time and effort?

Of course, we already know who does think so: Parents Television Council (PTC) and its associates. PTC members filed 99 percent of those 1,400,000 complaints over Jackson's tit, and among other hobbyhorses its ridden recently are a campaign to get CBS to change the name of its (failed) 2010 sitcom $#*! My Dad Says, objections to pixelated non-nudity (the performers wore flesh-colored garments under the pixelation) in the recently-canceled Don't Trust the B---- in Apt. 23, and just this year they got bent out of shape because players on the Super Bowl-winning Baltimore Ravens said "shit" and "fucking" in post-game locker-room interviews.

But really, what can you expect from an organization that claims that there'd been a 2409 percent increase in the use of the word "fuck" in primetime TV shows between 2005 and 2010? (Needless to say, PTC counted all the instances—276, according to them—that the word was bleeped and therefore never actually heard even once during that year.)

Indeed; even Genachowski seemed to understand what whackjobs PTC leaders and members are, and how stupid it would be to pay attention to their million-plus number of complaints; in April, while announcing the comment period for his proposal to limit new "indecency" cases only to those which were "egregious" (a word which he didn't bother to define), he noted almost in passing that the agency had already dismissed over one million (70 percent) of previously-filed complaints.

But the fact is, absent the above-suggested poll on broadcast "indecency," and with both the U.S. House and Senate (via the filibuster) essentially controlled by Republicans, the FCC has little objective evidence upon which to base a change in its indecency enforcement policy... so it's decided to sponsor a very-poorly-run, non-scientific poll of its own in seeking public comment on the proposed switch from a "prosecute everything" to a "prosecute only egregious instances" indecency policy.

Sadly, the comments section already has nearly 100,000 comments, many echoing PTC's boilerplate text, which reads, "I oppose any changes to the current FCC indecency standards. The FCC must continue to vigorously oppose ALL indecent content, even if brief or 'fleeting.' The Supreme Court has affirmed the FCC's authority to enforce policies prohibiting indecent broadcast content during hours when children are likely to be in the viewing or listening audience. Relaxing the current policy would not serve the public interest and I urge the FCC to reject all proposals that would allow for the broadcast of expletives and nudity on FCC-licensed station."

The website noted a portion of one long comment, which betrays the mindset of most who object to loosening the agency's apron strings:

"I’d like to voice my opposition to any proposed changes in indecency standards that would permit more expletives and nudity, even if brief or fleeting. There are two reasons:

"1) Every regulatory agency or body derives its ultimate authority from God—whether that authority’s leadership acknowledges the fact or not. Thus, all of us ought to consider the nature and responsibilities of our relationship to each other based not on the changing winds of social customs, but rather on the basis of principles that have defined our country from its beginning.

"Indeed, at times like this, it’s helpful to consult the Bible to see what our Creator—the one referenced in our Declaration of Independence—had to say about authorities and people like me who are under authority.

Here is what it says: 'Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human authority: whether to the emperor, as the supreme authority, or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right.' 1 Peter 2:13-14."

So perhaps AVN readers—indeed, all Americans who believe in the free speech rights guaranteed by the Constitution—may want to consider contributing some comments of their own—and fortunately, they still can! The comment period isn't due to close until May 20, and the National Association of Broadcasters has already asked that it be extended—but it would be unwise to count on that, because hey, how long does it take to express the view that the FCC has no business policing the airwaves for diddly-shit like "shit" and "fuck" and fake pixelated "nudity" and side-boobage and ass-cracks?

Anyway, the place to post comments online is here, and fill in "13-86" in the field labeled "Proceeding Number" plus the personal information necessary for them to take your comment seriously.

And please, do it soon; there really need to be voices of sanity to counter the religio-conservative garbage PTC is shoveling into the site every day.