President 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 Daileythat CNN 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.