The FCC and ‘decency’


I’m not a big fan of the “decency” standards. On the first level, I’ve not found anyone that could really define what is indecent and what is not.

I guess I spent long enough in Europe and Australia to realize that showing breasts or saying bad words don’t really seem undermine society.

I grant that there should be zones of family content (Superbowls, through the early parts of prime time) but after a certain time adults should feel free to watch and hear adults express themselves as adults express themselves. If the adults don’t like that type of content they can always change the channel.

Recently Frontline (on PBS) did a program called “Company of Soliders” which tracked a company in South Baghdad. In the unflinching camera’s eye soldiers exploded “fuck” and “shit” on occasion and frankly, if you can see the car in front of you take an RPG to the windshield and not at least conceieve that such is a reasonable utterance (and should you not be able to conceive such, what, pray tell, would you suggest it be replaced with?) then you are of a steely mettle indeed.

When this film was released to the PBS network there was a caveat attached: We won’t help you defend yourself in case the Puritannical judges of decency at the FCC come after you.

War is a dirty business and has a dirty vernacular to go with it. Whitewashing the nature of the conflict and whitewashing the vocabulary is absolutely absurd.

This fear of being fined by the FCC (“This plege drive is to help us pay off our fines, won’t you help?") encouraged several affiliates to not air this stirring episode.