Monday, February 02, 2004

A Lie? A Half-Truth?


Jeff Jacoby sputters about bad language and crude jokes on television, lamenting that television censors don't take us back to the standards of the 1950's (perhaps in pursuit of a utopian 1950's culture that existed only on television - and for which some, for example women and minorities, might not yearn). He also attacks politicians (in fairness, including GW) for potty-mouthed comments. But his complaint about television, and the FCC's exclusing "the F-word" as used by Bono at the Golden Globe awards,
Bono's language was not "patently offensive," the FCC ruled in October, since he "used the word 'f---ing' as an adjective or expletive to emphasize an exclamation."

Got that? The F-word is okay as long as you use it correctly. The way Nicole Richie did: During Fox's live broadcast of the Billboard music awards last month, the co-star of "The Simple Life" uncorked this witticism:

"The simple life? Have you ever tried to get cow shit out of a Prada purse? It's not so f---ing simple!"

(FCC Chairman Michael Powell has urged the other commissioners to overturn their October ruling. A decision is expected soon.)
omits a very important fact.

The FCC has had a Republican majority since 2001. That is, it was by virtue of the votes of Republican appointees that Bono's use of the "F-word" was deemed acceptable, or at least excusable.

This reflects the schism between "cultural" conservativism and "free market" conservativism. The latter group dominates the FCC, and the rulings issued by that body suggest that they will bless pretty much any content on the basis that the market, not the FCC, should determine what is carried on the nation's airwaves. This has resulted votes where Democratic appointees have voted against ostensibly "bad content" that the Republican majority has nonetheless approved.

It is unlikely that Jacoby is not aware of the composition of the FCC, and the fact that it is Republican appointees who are, in his apparent opinion, poisoning the airwaves. Doesn't it seem likely that, had Jacoby not known this fact, he would have bashed the "liberal Clinton-appointees" as "ruining the culture"?

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