Cost of Free Speech Just Went Up $292,500

censorship.gifPresident Bush just signed the Broadcast Decency Enforcement Act, which dramatically increases fines for exposing nips and other body parts or for using words no longer protected by the First Amendment. Jacob Sullum noted the hypocrisy of the statement Bush made shortly before he signed the bill:

“In our free society,” President Bush said today, “parents have the final responsibility over the television shows that their children watch, or the websites they visit, or the music they listen to. That’s a responsibility of moms and dads all across the country, to make sure their children are listening to or watching the right kind of programming.”

Matthew Dailey pointed out that CNN pointed out that the Christian Coalition now has the constitutional powers of a congressman, complete with placing legislation on the floor:

The imposing of higher fines for indecency violations was one of the Christian Coalition’s pet issues:

“The Christian Coalition had placed legislation to increase the fines as the No. 5 item on its 2006 legislative agenda.”

Social conservatives enjoy telling adults across America what is appropriate to watch. It’s all in the name of “protecting the children.”

Coming from Alabama, I’m always amused by the antics of the Christian Coalition, where it seems that Grover Norquist channeled $850,000 (enough to cover television exposure of both nipples with some change left over) to the state Christian Coalition affilliate. The interesting thing about the money is that it came from the Indian gaming industry and the Christian Coalition opposes gambling on moral grounds. Lest anyone think this is an isolated event, Ralph Reed seems to get payola from similar sources.

In related news, Kerry Howley directs our attention to that Without a Trace episode which was fined for depicting a teen sex party. The FCC fined CBS $3.3 million for showing what real teens (even Republican ones) do in real life:

The station found 4,211 people had complained about the episode’s depiction of a teen orgy. But according to CBS, it’s not clear that any of those 4,221 had ever, you know, seen the show:

All of the 4,211 e-mailed complaints came from Web sites operated by the Parents Television Council and the American Family Association, the stations said in a filing on Monday.

In only two of the emails did those complaining say they had watched the program, and those two apparently refer to a “brief, out-of-context segment” of the episode that was posted on the Parents Television Council’s Web site, the affiliates’ filing said.

“There were no true complainants from actual viewers,” the stations said. To be valid, complaints must come from an actual viewer in the service area of the station at issue, the filing said.

It’s amazing how 4,221 people can manage to avoid watching such programming, even as our all-powerful CBS overlords strap us down, tape our eyes open, and beam offensive images into our soft brains.

With Hudson v. Michigan already in the news, today has been a really bad day for the Bill of Rights.

Stephen Gordon

I like tasteful cigars, private property, American whiskey, fast cars, hot women, pre-bailout Jeeps, fine dining, worthwhile literature, low taxes, original music, personal privacy and self-defense rights -- but not necessarily in this order.

  1. Fuck the FCC. I had a letter to the editor printed in the June TALKERS magazine:

    Bravo to Michael Harrison for taking a swipe at the FCC in the May issue! It is a shame the radio industry allows itself to be controlled by a bunch of donut eating, pencil pushing bureaucrats. It’s time we all grew up and allowed the marketplace forces of broadcasters, listeners, and advertisers to self-regulate content. The FCC is strangling the radio industry by stealing millions of dollars from broadcasters and our advertisers, since we have to pass costs of regulation on to them in the form of inflated rates.

    I write this as the US Senate has passed a bill increasing the maximum per incident fine to over $300,000. You don’t think the FCC is giving those multi hundred thousand dollar fines to charity, do you? Nope, they are pocketing it all for themselves, and laughing all the way to the bank! The good news is the NAB opposes the increased fines.

  2. The question though, is what will they do if or when the fines increase? Will the NAB shrug and say, “Oh well, we tried!” or will they actually do something to support freedom of speech?

    Something like… publicly refusing to pay any and all fines! “But that’s breaking the law!”, you say.

    I say your obedience to bad laws is destroying Liberty.

    “As long as the world shall last there will be wrongs, and if no man objected and no man rebelled, those wrongs would last forever.” ~Clarence Darrow

    Ian Bernard
    Host, “Free Talk Live”
    “Talk Radio’s Insurrection”

  3. So I guess everyone has two Daddies, President Bush being one of them… God help us.

    The Libertarian solution- if you dont like what you see on TV or dont like what you hear on the radio, then change the friggin channel! Whats so hard about that? People who moan and groan about what they see and hear on TV and radio are either lazy, stupid, or both. No way would I ever waste my time on something if I dont like it…

    Im curious how Ralph Reed and his band of Nazis- the so called Christian Coalition- would respond to certain TV preachers who swindle MILLIONS of dollars by putting on lame acts and promising prayers and blessings? Can you say REV ROBERT TILTON from the 90s? More of a comedian if you ask me.

  4. Bush is just pandering, again, to the loons on the far right side of the party. He’s basically their little b*tch. He does whatever they tell him to. They push for a gay marriage ban, flag burning amendment, prayer in school, etc. Bush just says, duh ok!