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Radio Censorship

By MmmmJoel in News
Sun Apr 08, 2001 at 03:37:05 PM EST
Tags: Freedom (all tags)

In another highly successful attempt to waste as much time and effort as humanly possible, the FCC has attempted to cite specific examples of what constitutes "indecency" and what does not. (I found out about the updated policy from Wired, but their reporting is inaccurate.)

Perhaps the most encouraging thing coming out of this report is that the terms of indecency are not as black & white as a good friend of ours had suggested and of which many people (and probably radio stations) have thought of as a simple standard. As George Carlin so eloquently stated, "The original seven words were, shit, piss, fuck, cunt, cocksucker, motherfucker, and tits." (The whole transcript of this monologue is available at his website.) However, saying "fuck" on the radio will not always result in the FCC laying down an monstrous fine. Same with "motherfucker", believe it or not. Both of these quotes were stamped as "Not Indecent:"
"The hell I did, I drove mother-fucker. oh. Oh." --WYBB "The Morning Show"
"Oops, fucked that one up." --KDDB "News Announcer Comment"
In the first example, the FCC said that the "broadcast contained only a fleeting and isolated utterance which, within the context of live and spontaneous programming, does not warrant a Commission sanction." To the latter, they said the "news announcer's use of a single explicative does not warrant further Commission consideration in light of the isolated and accidental nature of the broadcast." Another surprise after reading the report is that the FCC doesn't just target sex. Check out this one:
"Well, it was a nice big fart. I'm feeling very gaseous at this point but there, so far has been no enema reaction, as far as. There's been no, there's been no expelling? No expelling. But I feel mucus rising.... Can't go like. (Grunting sound) Pushing, all I keep doing is putting out baby farts.... on the toilet ready to go.... Push it, strain it. It looks normal. Just average, average. Little rabbit one. Little rabbit pellets. I imagine maybe, we'll break loose. Push hard, Cowhead. I'm pushing, I got veins popping out of my forehead. Go ahead, those moles might pop right off. You can tell he's pushing. I'm out of breath. One more, last one. One big push. --WXTB "Bubba, The Love Sponge"
Besides the obnoxiously vague "patently offensive" clause whereby something's decency is determined by so-called "community standards," I was surprised to read that "material must describe or depict sexual or excretory organs or activities." So apparently, a radio station can depict as much violence as they want without fearing an FCC slapdown. I found that the FCC is upholding the following standards that were set forth in 1973 in the Supreme Court ruling in Miller v. California:
  1. That the average person, applying contemporary community standards, would find that the work, taken as a whole, appeals to the prurient interest; AND
  2. That the work depicts or describes in a patently offensive way, as measured by contemporary community standards, sexual conduct specifically defined by the applicable law; AND
  3. That a reasonable person would find that the work, taken as a whole, lacks serious literary, artistic, political and scientific value.
The report mentions that the FCC does not scan radio stations to listen for indecency, but rather it only responds to complaints. In order to complain, you must mail the FCC a recording of the show along with its specifics. Can you actually believe that some people want to devote time to recording a radio station just in case a news annoucer says, "Oops, fucked that one up," and then run it to a shipping center and pay to have an non-returnable audio tape sent to the FCC so that they can spend more time and taxpayer money to have their decency reviewers listen and decide whether to announce that it is not indecent or whether it's worthy of a warning or an NAL and then write up an official report on each one and then ensure that the enforcement department knows to followup with the radio station? This article in the Washington Post cites that "A paralegal in the investigations division passes along possible violations of indecency statutes that appear verifiable. Then a group of FCC lawyers and staffers confers, sometimes taking months, as in the Alabama case." (My emphasis.) Who the hell does this?

Unsurprisingly and unfortunately, it seems that they are the same people who take the time to vote. After 15 seconds of painstaking searching, I found Morality in Media. Besides the typical canned letters to the president, they even have a monthly newsletter dedicated to writing supermarkets' CEOs about keeping particular magazines off the racks because of the names of their articles on the cover. Check out their own ribbon campaign and how they overextend the implications of a quote by Pope John Paul II. Now, they have a pseudo-endorsed anti-pornography campaign. These people seem to live to complain, even when they complain to the wrong people! The instructions they offer to respond to unsolicited email are completely inaccurate and your complaint will not be sent to the correct network administrator 99.9% of the time. Ironically enough, they link to SpamCop when explaining how to retrieve your emails' headers when in fact SpamCop will actually correctly parse your email automatically unlike their misguided instructions.

I highly reccommend reading the report yourself to read more entertaining examples of indecency. I only picked out the ones that surprised me. Needless to say, Howard Stern was first on the list.


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Radio Censorship | 61 comments (51 topical, 10 editorial, 0 hidden)
What type of people are on the radio? (3.44 / 9) (#8)
by theboz on Sun Apr 08, 2001 at 11:38:37 AM EST

Here's a few quotes that I read from there that were marked indecent. The only thing is that I have to wonder what kind of weirdo would be willing to say this on the air.

WEZB-FM "Nawlins", LA What's the worst part of having sex with your brother?...You got to fix the crib after it breaks and then you got to clean the blood off the diaper.

KUPD-FM Tempe, AZ What is the best part of screwing an eight-year-old? Hearing the pelvis crack.

I know this is not indicative in any way of the majority of people on the air, but you have to wonder if these people still have their jobs after saying such things.


Most likely because... (4.50 / 4) (#11)
by NexusVoid on Sun Apr 08, 2001 at 05:01:55 PM EST

...once they made those comments, they got a ratings jump. 'Shock radio' sells. Integrity means nothing anymore; only paying the bills and rolling in piles of cash do, and that's what shock radio tends to produce. The so-called "Stern clones" are all the rage, and they will continue to be as long as people tune in; it has become a fact of life.

While that first paragraph may sound a bit harsh and may make me out to be one of the complainers, I'd like to say that I am anything but. I am, in fact, one of the dying breed of individuals that know how to change the channel or radio station when coming across something not worth listening to, rather than trying to drive it away with pitchforks and torches. I listen to Stern in the morning, and even I find him to be too much sometimes; but do I call the FCC? No. I simply flip to another station, put on cd/MP3, or just turn the radio off all together. Maybe if more people tried to do so, we'd have less litigation on petty issues, and be able to focus on something more important.

[ Parent ]
People Like This (4.11 / 9) (#9)
by localroger on Sun Apr 08, 2001 at 04:27:43 PM EST

These people seem to live to complain

I have a coworker like this. He makes his neighbors' lives living hell (I would have to move, seriously). His city councilman and the mayor and their secretaries know this man and his wife by the sound of their voices. He is literally not happy unless he has something to complain about.

I remember one incident where he walked outside of his house to find a large puddle of hydraulic fluid pooled in the street. He got to work and spent half the day on the phone with the city, the garbage company, the EPA, and every other agency he could think of. Well, the trash pickup service checked the logs for the truck that had serviced his street, found it came back early and very low on hydraulic fluid. You cannot imagine the look of absolute glee which came into the man's eyes when he was told this. He was fulfilled; he had by God nailed someone.

Naturally, while he complains about everything he is oblivious to the effects of his own actions. He complained loudly and bitterly about his neighbors denting his mailbox, which they say his kids actually did; and cared not a whit when the same neighbor complained that Mr. Complaint's kids had completely destroyed his own mail box.

People like this are fortunately rare, but it only takes a few of them to make life miserable for many other people. When they band together in packs, as with the group you specify, they can be truly terrifying. It's a fundamental imbalance; the few who are not content with a balanced social contract can overrule the desires of many, many others who simply want to be left alone and MYOB.

I really don't know how to reconcile this problem with democracy; I am loath to say "I believe in freedom of speech except for loudmouth a**holes" but it seems that any time we get a measure of actual freedom, everyone relaxes (because that's what you do when you are free) and then later they find it all undermined by a bunch of prurient prudes who can't stand the idea that someone else is less uptight than they are.

I can haz blog!

heh.. (4.00 / 1) (#46)
by Danse on Mon Apr 09, 2001 at 05:40:15 PM EST

You might want to look up the word "prurient." I think you've confused it with "puritanical." Other than that I think I agree with you.

An honest debate between Bush and Kerry
[ Parent ]
Actually, I did mean "prurient" (none / 0) (#47)
by localroger on Mon Apr 09, 2001 at 10:17:43 PM EST

...because IME the would-be censors' perception of what they are about is much more lurid than anyone else's. Search the web for examples of Chick comics, for examples, or just about anything by Andrea Dworkin.

I mean, how could someone who wants to ban discussion of S&M write Ice and Fire?

I can haz blog!
[ Parent ]

Re: People Like This (3.00 / 1) (#54)
by Fred_A on Wed Apr 11, 2001 at 12:29:32 PM EST

From my (euro-centric) point of view, and my regular browsing of US media and discussion board, it seems to me that the so called US "freedom" is mostly focused around the freedom for a minority to make life miserable for the rest.

To someone raised and living in France, the absolute terror of people in the US (at least the noisy ones) with sex is completely impossible to understand. This has been said millions of times before, but you can't show breasts on TV (or play the audio equivalent on the radio) but it's ok to show the result of a shooting in the local news.

I don't get it. I really don't... "Freedom" indeed...

Fred in Paris
[ Parent ]

Why is this Important? (2.80 / 10) (#10)
by Bluesee on Sun Apr 08, 2001 at 05:00:40 PM EST

I must confess, first, that I really do not get the point of the parent post. It seems to not have an opinion about the copious examples of obscenity on the radio, except that they are 'entertaining' (which they are!), and it reveals who the squealers to the FCC are (the Moral Majority, or Christian Coalition, or whomever, under whatever guise), portraying them as, well, wasters of their own time and others, and our taxes. If I am to read the logical points of the article correctly.

But after reading the passages in the FCC document, can anyone really defend their airing on the public airwaves? Those of us who are old enough to appreciate the content can obtain it readily from other sources, and I maintain that it is in the best interests of our society that we protect the children (do it for the little children!!! Of course, who else do we do these things for?) from being exposed to this information. Ironically, the same moralists are the ones who applauded the release of the Starr Report in our local newspaper. The Ends do not justify the Means, but apparently they do for Them.

Now as to my reasoning as to why this information is harmful. I am against most of the methods employed by the Christian Right, as I believe they are neither Christian nor Right, but I had to figure out for myself what constituted the reasoning behind the Laws of God, if only to figure out my own morality. What I came up with is this: the brand of Love that is portrayed to children between mutually consenting adults is important to their understanding of what is Right and Wrong. I think that a perfectly idealized love* is almost non-sexual in nature. In this idealized Love of, say a Man for a Woman, he cherishes her and holds her more important than his own life. In any case, the object of his love is her soul, her essence. This sort of Love is self-renewing and always fulfilling. It is the sort of love that grows with time in a deeper intimacy and abiding trust. The heart and the soul of the lover become filled with Joy and Life takes on a meaning that transcends the ordinary day-to-day events.

In contrast, the sort of attraction a Man has for a Woman as portrayed by these shock jocks totally denies the soul of the person, and objectifies her as mere flesh. The problem here is that the object of desire is the flesh itself, which has no soul, so there is nothing further to do once the object has been er, conquered. This leads to immense dissatisfaction in the psyche, as one realizes that what one thinks he has been searching for is found, and then it's done. It then becomes like a drug, it's all about one's own sexual needs, not about any joining of souls, and the problem becomes one of maintaining the excitement and the impetus for continuing pursuit of this inner drive. The only way to maintain That kind of high, is, like a drug, to increase the dosage - you must next have two partners, or use vibrators, whips, chains, multiple partners. You cheat, you tomcat around, you pay money for it. It is very much like the current climate in radio. Once advertisers learned that titillation turns heads (walk through any video store and count the number of times a big ol' .45 caliber pistol is posed oh-so-close to a pair of ruby-red lips), they opened up a door to something that ultimately had to lead (like the frog in the pan of water on the stove, slowly until it's boiling) to what we have today. And you know what? It shocks you, it turns your head, and it even stimulates you (that is, until you are numb). But it is guaranteed to Never fulfill you. In fact, it is guaranteed to frustrate you and provoke your anxiety.

But that of course is the nature of evil, to consume your soul. You learn that the hard way at your own peril.

So we as a society should continue to punish those who, in their own misguided notion of fun and need to create an allegience among our youth, would teach them to be titillated by such porn. Because there is a much more important way to Love. Because our Children need to learn that first. This will save them when they are exposed to the various genitalia flouted at them over the course of their lives.

Yes. Do it... for the children.

(*- By the way. In a perfectly idealized love? The sex is Great!)

Not quite right! (4.00 / 3) (#26)
by logicnazi on Sun Apr 08, 2001 at 11:24:01 PM EST

While I don't doubt that a good parternership marriage or whatever requries some degree of unselfish non-sexual love (you have to feel something for them when they are sick and unsexy) I think you underestimate the point of sexual attraction.

First of all many of us have a definite sexual orientation. Moreover, this orientation is not simply a result of our prejudice (I for one have tried and just found myself simply not attracted to those of the same gender). If all that was important was this nonsexual love we would find ourselves forming partnerships with those of an unprefered gender as often as those of the prefered gender. We don't do this and I think the reason is that relationships without an appropriate sexual component are lacking something.

Perhaps sexual love is not as pure or as perfect as your idealized love, and im sure a fair number of greek thinkers would agree with you. Unfortunately we are not perfect beings and we really do feel sexual urges and desire sexual satisfaction (in fact we seem to have a psychological need for this satisfaction...unsurprising given evolution). This means we need to recognize and even accept this desire inside ourselves.

The recognition of the desires of the body need not interfere with platonic love. Finding my girlfriends body sexy doesn't make me love her less or somehow degrade her. The argument that recognizing the bodily attributes of those we love somehow reduces their spiritual/emotional attributes is just falacious. We may as well claim that a women asking a man to open something for her is a degradation of him, as he is now being valued not for his soul but only for his bodily strength. Their is an important differnce between the statements "I value you for your bodily characteristics" and "I value you *only* for your bodily characteristics."

If these things are not incompatible with higher virtues then why do we need to ban them? Perhaps you claim that media puts undue emphasis on them relative to other ways of relating to people, and I agree with you. Life is not made up of the constant sexual titalation portrayed on TV or radio, even the most promiscous individual feels lonely and needs emotional support. Then again life is not a series of comic mishaps, high adventure, or intense drama as portrayed on the media. We should not expect (or even want) media to display life as it actually is in respect to these characteristics so why should we expect it not to overexagerate sex (it is really impossible for media to convey these other virtues...you aren't really friends with the personalities so represented).

Now I agree it is certainly possible for the portrayl of sex in the media to cause problems. It can warp peoples ideas of sex and even make them think of the opposite sex only as objects as you suggest. But isn't it strange that media may do this with sex but it never convinces people that it is okay to go shoot up their enemies (and no, even people who do do this aren't under the delusion that somehow this is considered acceptable, they know it is unacceptable but do it anyway). The answer to this oddity is probably precisely because people are not expoused to sex enough. If what momy and daddy are doing in the bedroom in a loving caring relationship is forever hidden (in the knowledge sense not the watching sense) then is it any surprise that media could give them the wrong idea about sex?

[ Parent ]
Thank you for that (2.66 / 3) (#34)
by Bluesee on Mon Apr 09, 2001 at 01:44:02 AM EST

The whole time I was writing what was an impassioned plea to not forget the sustaining part of Love I was thinking of just those arguments. We, men, lust first, sure, and it may be the sexual desire that sustains us until long after we realize we are married, but only a Fool would marry a woman Only because she was good looking. As far as having sex with one... well... one or two, when you're young, sure, I can see that. Sex for sex's sake is not to be condemned; it can be enjoyed. But I maintain that the objectification of the flesh Is incompatible with a happy life when it eclipses the ability of the person to enjoy another in toto. You wanna get freaky with the missus in your bedroom, have at it. But please don't broadcast it to me while I'm driving to work. I know I can turn off the radio, but no one can convince me that the FCC is in the wrong, here.

But things taken in moderation are not harmful. I feel that the passages in the FCC report were fairly extreme when you consider that they are broadcast to mothers in homes while they are serving their children breakfast. It's a bad signal to send to kids. That's what I'm saying.

[ Parent ]
You ignore the fact (4.00 / 1) (#55)
by morven on Wed Apr 11, 2001 at 08:19:55 PM EST

that people CHOOSE what radio stations to listen to; to use your overblown manipulative example, what kind of mother is going to be listening to that kind of stuff at the breakfast table with her kids? I'll tell you -- a mother who WANTS to do so.

You make out like innocent people could just be sitting there listening to their favorite show and suddenly some shock-jock pushes the regular DJ out of his chair and starts in with this kind of thing. Yeah, right.

Actually, except for quickly skipping past it while changing stations, someone isn't going to be listening to Howard Stern unless they want to, are they?

All of this is just you trying to justify your PERSONAL repulsion at listening to this kind of thing. The fact is, nobody is going to be listening to things like this unless THEY want to be, and it is NOT going to harm you to know that other people want to listen to things like that.

[ Parent ]
This is so harmful for the kids ... (4.00 / 4) (#39)
by magullo on Mon Apr 09, 2001 at 11:27:05 AM EST

Whatever you do or think, just don't use kids to justify it. It's gross.

First of, your thoughts of "idealized" love o something are either a result of a terribly naive mind or of self-denial. Sexual desire, with and without love is absolutely human (yeah, girls lust too). In general it is a sane and wise choice to keep the lust confined in some sort of relationship. Yeah, as in a lust-based or sex-based relationship. They may or may not last, but they can also be very fulfilling.

(Let's not forget here that some "love-based" relationships are a disaster - only fools fall in love). Let's also make clear that I am not advocating lust over sex. I am just pointing out the obvious.

So I don't know how you plan to educate your little kids, but explaining not just the mechanics, not just the dangers, but also the complex psycological processes behind love and sex is a critical part of it. You cannot just say "objectivising women is bad" to a 16-year-old, because that is what he is doing most of his waking hours (not to mention the sleeping ones...)

You can't expect him or her to grasp the consequences of an irresponsible behavior (i.e. giving more importance to lust than to love) without understanding all the concepts involved - including involuntary bodily functions and urges.

You know, the US is one of the last Western countries that has such infantile (pun not intended) issues with sex. In most "civilized" countries, while sex is still somewhat a taboo, at least we don't have public figures shouting "sex and violence are bad!". What the hell, sex and violence are not even related, except in some sick minds. Yet I keep hearing the phrase. Why?

Well, I for one believe in providing information and in my opinion it all starts with society having a frank, open and clear approach to sexuality. It's not a sin and it's not going to go away, so why not give it the importance it deserves.

That way both the tasteless (not a crime, according to US Supreme Court) shock jocks and the "moral" defenders would be out of business. Definetely the "moral" defenders.

All right, this is going to take a lot more time than what I have right now. My point: If you start defending a prude approach to sex, you are failing big-time. Explain it how it is (the beauty and the nastiness involved in every single sexual instance) and you won't be triggering conflicts that might be harder to deal with in the long-term.

[ Parent ]

The people who complain (4.58 / 12) (#12)
by Y on Sun Apr 08, 2001 at 05:30:28 PM EST

I DJ at KTRU Houston, and I remember being told a story about a year before I started DJing about people who tried to call the FCC on us. They listened very carefully at all hours to find slips with regards to obscenity. Why? Because they wanted our bandwidth. It was some religious group that felt it could make better use of the airwaves than us because we played "evil" music.

The thing that sparked the watchdogging was a special that ran on the station during National Coming Out Week. The station hosted a discussion program for a few hours one day discussing gay rights and issues facing homosexuals and transgendered people in society. This touched off the religious group who began complaining to the FCC and calling the DJs and harrassing them. From that point on, the station manager told the DJs to take special care not to broadcast profanity.

Generally speaking, we follow the FCC guidelines. The only problems arise when a CD has been misreviewed or not reviewed at all, and the DJ doesn't have any idea as to the obscenity content of the CD or record. The guys who did the shift before me last week played four songs in a row that said "fuck" or "fucking" which is permitted between 10 pm and 6 am provided it is in a non-sexual context. As our directors have told us, you can "fuck the police", but you can't "fuck that bitch six ways from Sunday." Of course, our shifts are in the middle of the day, so it was particularly frustrating for the DJs.

Hope this answers your question.

- Mike

As a matter of interest... (3.33 / 3) (#24)
by Pseudonym on Sun Apr 08, 2001 at 11:08:11 PM EST

Where does one draw the line when it comes to "sexual context"? Consider the song by Regurgitator with the wonderful title I sucked a lot of cock to get where I am. It uses sexual metaphors, but it's not a sexual song at all. (It should be obvious from the title alone that's about selling out in the worst possible ways to get ahead.)

I know you're not the FCC, so I'm not after an official ruling. I'm just curious.

sub f{($f)=@_;print"$f(q{$f});";}f(q{sub f{($f)=@_;print"$f(q{$f});";}f});
[ Parent ]
that which constitutes sexual content... (4.33 / 3) (#33)
by Y on Mon Apr 09, 2001 at 12:53:03 AM EST

I wish I had a DJ manual on me right now so I could quote rules. Now about that song - I looked at the lyrics, and despite the fact that it's a song about kissing ass in the business world, it still describes a sexual act (metaphor or no), and as such is deemed unfit for radio play by the FCC. We usually draw the line on the safe side because in the event that the FCC fines us, the DJ in violation must pay that fine, and the fines can range up to $10,000. We sign a statement to that effect when we do training.

That's why it's irritating to find no review or a bad review that doesn't check for profanity, because as harmless as it seems, we have to log whenever an unexpected obscenity pops up. I once picked out a song that was rated OK and the first words out of the CD player were "You fuck like a man, but act like a boy." Not particularly graphic, but it is technically a violation. Generally speaking, as long as we log profanity and the logs don't show a recurring trend, we're OK with the FCC.

In short, things that are explicitly sexual, whether metaphoric or not, are not kosher. Also, a finer point on the "fuck the police": you can't incite riots over the airwaves, so if you play a song like that and then go on mic and start encouraging people to loot shops or overturn police cars, you're in deep, deep shit.

- Mike

[ Parent ]

analyzing the airwaves? (2.00 / 7) (#13)
by core10k on Sun Apr 08, 2001 at 06:41:20 PM EST

The hell I did, I drove mother-fucker. oh. Oh." --WYBB "The
Morning Show"

"Oops, fucked that one up." --KDDB "News Announcer Comment

Let me get this straight, you can be fined for swearing on air in the
United States? And they're so serious about it that they analyze
a radio DJ's speech for swear words like the above two examples?
I'm Canadian. Do you have any idea how revolting the
very idea of that is to me?

Shove your US version of freedom up your ass.

airwaves (4.00 / 3) (#14)
by Delirium on Sun Apr 08, 2001 at 06:52:01 PM EST

The idea is that you have licensed use of a portion of the radio spectrum for use under a certain set of conditions. If you violate those conditions (that you agreed to in the first place) then it's obviously a cause for fines or something of that nature.

The USA version of freedom protects what you do with your own resources.

[ Parent ]

"Our Own Resources" (4.00 / 3) (#15)
by ajschu on Sun Apr 08, 2001 at 07:13:14 PM EST

The crime of it is that they are our own resources. The airwaves are the property of the American people, yet the FCC regulates them on our behalf.


[ Parent ]
representative government (5.00 / 1) (#16)
by Delirium on Sun Apr 08, 2001 at 07:30:47 PM EST

Yes, they are the property of the American people as a whole, not the property of any one person. Therefore the only way to regulate their use is to reach public consensus over how they should be used. The FCC is a government body, and the government is obviously the representative of the American people - if you don't like how they work, write your representative and vote (and anarchy with airwaves wouldn't be any better - only rich corporations would broadcast, as they could afford huge transmitters to drown out everyone else).

[ Parent ]
Corporate government (3.00 / 2) (#19)
by ajschu on Sun Apr 08, 2001 at 08:57:08 PM EST

Of course I understand the concept of representative government, but understand that it isn't you and I that they are representing. Television broadcasting companies (eg. ABC, NBC, CBS) get the broadcasting spectrum for network TV for free. Remember a few years ago when the whole HDTV hype was in overdrive? They got extra spectrum just for that purpose. Our resources are being used to broadcast crap like Friends, Survivor, and Who Wants to be a Millionaire. And no amount of letter-writing will change that.


[ Parent ]
still people voting (3.00 / 1) (#20)
by Delirium on Sun Apr 08, 2001 at 09:05:38 PM EST

Well, you'll notice that corporations aren't the ones voting - people are. If people were really upset about how things are working, they'd put pressure on their representatives, or vote people into office who agree with their viewpoints. Since that hasn't happened, obviously a majority of people don't have much of a problem.

Also note that in polls most people do support restrictions on profanity on public TV and radio, which is why the government imposes them. If they were wildly unpopular they wouldn't exist for long.

[ Parent ]

Voting and more (4.00 / 1) (#21)
by ajschu on Sun Apr 08, 2001 at 09:25:53 PM EST

Corporations don't have to vote to get their way in the government. That should need no explanation. Just look at who finances the campaigns of politicians today.

As for the support of such restrictions, I believe that Benjamin Franklin's famous quote, "Those who are willing to sacrifice a little freedom for a little safety deserve neither," applies here. Communication is the most powerful weapon in any arsenal, and the loss of freedom on the airwaves is a sacrifice of freedom for a little safety. Of course, I suppose that means a majority of Americans don't deserve the right to say what they want on the airwaves, so this entire conversation is moot.


[ Parent ]
...that governs less, governs best. (none / 0) (#60)
by Pfft on Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 05:16:22 PM EST

They are the property of the American people as a whole, not the property of any one person. Therefore the only way to regulate their use is to reach public consensus over how they should be used. The FCC is a government body, and the government is obviously the representative of the American people.

Unless you belive in some set of "natural" versus "artificial" property rights, you will see the arbitrariness of distinguishing between private and public property: The electromagnetic spectrum is public, but land is private, but the airspace above the land is public, etc. The reasons for these divisions are historical, not philosophical - the most logical conclusion, imho, is to follow Proudhon and declare that wealth of all forms is public, since it is nessesarily created with support from the society.

Nevertheless, resources must be managed somehow. A easy way out is to let the government embody the "public consensus", and let the state control everything. That model has been found to be undesireable, however. Historically, it has been found to be both better to place limits on the power of the state, so called human rights. Property rights are one example, where the power to manage certain resources are delegated to individuals. A more direct example is the restrictions on the state's power that are enumerated in the Bill of Rights. Such rights necessarily empower the indiviual against the collective, or the collective's elected representatives.

Therefore it is quite philosophically sound to demand free speach on radio, even though the airwaves (like everything else) ultimately belongs the public.

[ Parent ]

Not because of licensing, but others' freedoms (3.33 / 3) (#22)
by srichman on Sun Apr 08, 2001 at 10:56:53 PM EST

The idea is that you have licensed use of a portion of the radio spectrum for use under a certain set of conditions.

Yeah, but you can't set arbitrary licensing rules that violate the First Amendment unless there's a good reason for it. In this case, broadcasters' freedoms are curtailed in order to uphold the rights of listeners (or viewers; I'll concentrate on radio without loss of generality).

The idea is that listeners have no way to opt out of radio broadcasts (unlike how, for instance, I can choose to not subscribe to HBO). Say I'm driving to the grocery store with my little boy in the car and I'm flipping through stations to try and find something to listen to (preferably Christian rock; my little boy just loves Christian rock). While flipping stations we hear something indecent. I'm horribly shocked. And my little boy asks me to explain what it meant. And my little boy has learned a couple new dirty words to bring to the playground on Monday. Our rights have been violated. We have been subjected against our wishes to something offensive, something irreparably harmful. People should be able to listen to the radio freely without something like this happening to them.

This is a pretty common principle. There are many rights (e.g., smoking in public) that have been taken away from you because their exercise violates the rights of others.

Of course, if I let my little boy stay up past 10pm, then I'm screwed, as the FCC allows indecent (but not obscene) material to be broadcast from 10pm to 6am ("safe harbor"). I suppose the rationale behind safe harbor is that most tots should be tucked away in bed by that time, so the likelihood of my grocery store example is greatly reduced, and therefore the imposition of stricter censorship would violate the rights of broadcasters more than the rights of listeners.

(BTW, I have no children and am a radio DJ who, unsurprisingly, is not in favor of FCC censorship.)

[ Parent ]

Smoking in public (2.33 / 3) (#28)
by logicnazi on Sun Apr 08, 2001 at 11:44:54 PM EST

That is a complete bullshit argument. Yes secondhand somke has been shown to be mildly dangerous to others living in the same houshold with the smoker...smoking in public hardly represents a severe health hazard to those around you (some case can be made for places like bars which are a continually smoke filled enviornment but the customers and the employees are making a concious choice to work their...it is not similar to someone smoking in a public building where others may be forciably expoused)

The truth is that we ban smoking in public because we find it morally reprehensible and it is easy to define. We would ban sick people in public for the danger and children in public for the annoyance before we banned smoking if these were the actual considerations involved.

Your rational behind the radio is correct and I am sorry for picking on one little example I just find the continued "rational" reasons for eliminating smoking annoying (for the record I am not a smoker).

[ Parent ]
Smoking in public... (3.33 / 3) (#32)
by RadiantMatrix on Mon Apr 09, 2001 at 12:49:03 AM EST

I don't smoke, and I have a smoke allergy, so I admit some bias. However, banning smoking in public places (or at least limiting it to extremely well-ventilated "smoking areas") is a valid public health issue.

There are enough people who are allergic to smoke, and enough infants whose lungs can be so easily affected by smoke of any kind, that some limitations on public smoking are warranted. However, I do agree that there should be some consistency in regulating other health problems that are prevalent, but this is one of the few cases where I hold that a little more regulation is required, rather than a little less.
I'm not going out with a "meh". I plan to live, dammit. [ZorbaTHut]

[ Parent ]

Choking waiters (2.66 / 3) (#35)
by srichman on Mon Apr 09, 2001 at 03:46:00 AM EST

smoking in public hardly represents a severe health hazard to those around you

Tell that to waiters and waitresses, who are subjected to it pretty much constantly, 8 hours a day (except here in California, where smoking is illegal in restaurants and bars).

[ Parent ]

Re: Choking waiters (1.50 / 2) (#51)
by alexdw on Tue Apr 10, 2001 at 10:24:55 PM EST

Did you actually read what you replied to? logicnazi acknowledged that a case could be made for this, and then pointed out that those people conciously chose to work in this environment.

If you don't want to look like a f*cking moron, try actually reading the post next time, instead of overreacting to a few keywords.

[ Parent ]
On Resta*rants (2.00 / 1) (#57)
by srichman on Mon Apr 16, 2001 at 06:11:13 AM EST

Did you actually read what you replied to? logicnazi acknowledged that a case could be made for this, and then pointed out that those people conciously chose to work in this environment.

Actually, I did read it. I believe what you're referring to is "some case can be made for places like bars which are a continually smoke filled enviornment but the customers and the employees are making a concious choice to work their..." (sic).

logicnazi was referring only to employees of bars, while I was referring to all restaurant employees. The point being that logicnazi's "employees are making a concious choice to work there" argument obviously fails to hold when you extend its domain to include restaurant employees (although I feel it fails even in the domain in which it was presented): you can't exclude workers from this entire class of jobs just because they don't want to breathe smoke. Second hand smoke isn't an occupational hazard here; it's a violation of the rights of restaurant (and bar) employees by their patrons.

If you don't want to look like a f*cking moron, try actually reading the post next time, instead of overreacting to a few keywords.

If you don't want to look like a fucking moron, try not inviting the ire of your fellow readers with needless epithets (irony intended). And don't use asterisks to protect the younger viewers from dangerous vowels: it's pretty ineffective censorship and just makes you look like a chump.

[ Parent ]

In retrospect... (none / 0) (#61)
by alexdw on Mon Apr 08, 2002 at 11:43:59 PM EST

I wish K5 had a means of deleting one's own comments... this post was really stupid.

[ Parent ]
good point. (2.00 / 2) (#30)
by Greyshade on Mon Apr 09, 2001 at 12:40:46 AM EST

You should get the cops to round up those high-school punks you caught cussing outside the store for spreading unwholsome ideas too. They might be taking about something they heard in biology that you would have to explain to your child. And you had better call the school's administration about little Timmy, who's parents' anus ins't quite as tight as yours and has given their child a more enlightened upbringing. You know your kid is talking with them too, you know. In fact, you should probably lock your child in a closet and feed him thru a hole in the door until he's 18. He should be save from all those evil things you want to save him from then.

[ Parent ]
What about cable? (3.00 / 1) (#27)
by logicnazi on Sun Apr 08, 2001 at 11:36:19 PM EST

Okay sure that excuse is reasonable...there is limited bandwidth and radio is broadcast indiscriminately into everyones home but explain to me how the FCC got their hands into regulating cable TV? I know the regulations are less strict and you can order chanels like playboy but there are still restrictions, for instance you are LEGALLY prohibited from showing the playboy channel unscrambled on basic cable at 4pm.

If local communities were responsible for these laws okay (they are the ones who contract with the cable company and presumably can impose restrictions on that contract) but it is my understanding that it is the FCC who is actually regulating this on a nationwide basis...please correct me if I am wrong.

[ Parent ]
Monopolies (4.00 / 1) (#42)
by darthaggie on Mon Apr 09, 2001 at 02:49:53 PM EST

but explain to me how the FCC got their hands into regulating cable TV?

Because Congress handed them a mandate to do so, mostly because any given cable provider has an effective monopoly. Mind you, I'm not disagreeing with you, but it is a somewhat thorny issue.

Now, someday they'll lose that monopoly status when competition becomes viable -- when you can get cable TV from the traditional cable company, one of your local DSL ISP's or ye olde phone company.

I am BOFH. Resistance is futile. Your network will be assimilated.
[ Parent ]

the govt view (3.00 / 4) (#17)
by luethke on Sun Apr 08, 2001 at 07:42:18 PM EST

It goes beyong liscensing issues that are voluntary. The idea is that the wave are beamed to you no matter what, you have no choice (yes I know that's a little dumb, but how many govt's you know that if given half a chance don't make a grab for power when they think they can). The rules with liscensing make sense because of the above (just like clean air laws). the train of logic goes that if it requirs liscensing we have regulation and since you have no choice but to receive it we might as well add a little more regulation. then a few years later just a few more lines, no big deal, now aplly infinate recursion and you see what has happened. I don't think the govt gives a damn if i say "fuck that bith GOOD!!!" on the air, they would be just as happy regulating the use of the word "and" but they know they can get away with obcenity. This is the tactic govt has used for a long time, "it's just one more gun on the list, no big deal", "we only want to create mandatory ratings", "we have ratings, it's only a small step to enforce them". I could go on forever about examples of this, most poeple could care less about profanity, if you don't like it you won't listen to it, if you like it the you would. I'm betting Canada does something similar, the govt. doesn't need to activly do this, there is a huge amount of people wiling to do this for free: christians, homosexuals, minority, womens groups. there is a small group of people in almost any classification you can think of that are radicals and fell that it is there mission in life to regulate what we all think. The govt. seems happy to oblige each group as long as it means more regulation. I am reminded of a televised PETA protest against eating turkey on thanksgiving where I live. In a medium sized city there was something like 8-10 people - the local govt had hearing to decide whether or not to issue an official statement to have a vegan meal (not legislate, just suggest). The vote was close, every person on the council ate meat. they gave no reason why they voted for it, the only two reasons I could fathom is they thought it made them look good (stupid as I live in the deep south where the majority of poeple I know hunt) or they liked the idea of telling us what to do. they did pass a law making it a fine to cut down a tree bigger than 8 inch diameter without the city agronomist coming out and checking the "environmental" impact (payable by you of course). again stupid as most people *like* trees in thier yard and only cat large trees when they become a danger if the fall over. AHHHHH i need to quit complaining i've made my point but like to rant about our stupid govt.

[ Parent ]
Get the log out of your own eye, pard (4.40 / 5) (#18)
by localroger on Sun Apr 08, 2001 at 08:15:31 PM EST

I'm Canadian. Do you have any idea how revolting the very idea of that is to me? Shove your US version of freedom up your ass.

Then maybe you should have a look-see into your own charming government, which has been regularly inspecting and seizing books which have the misfortune to cross your border. Especially, it seems, when those books are about sex.

IIRC your mounties intercepted a parcel of books with the title Hot, Hotter, Hottest to protect you from its prurient content, unaware that it was a compilation of chili pepper recipes. This makes an interesting diversion in the anthology of "banned in Canada" writings edited by Pat Califia.

I can haz blog!
[ Parent ]

And don't forget... (4.00 / 3) (#25)
by Woodblock on Sun Apr 08, 2001 at 11:18:45 PM EST

Mass pepper spraying peaceful protestors, almost completely banning lesbian erotica from being imported while "normal" porn is unrestricted, and blocking entrance to Canada to people who are heading to Quebec city to protest the FTAA.
-- Real computer scientists don't use computers.
[ Parent ]
Other silliness (4.00 / 2) (#40)
by fluffy grue on Mon Apr 09, 2001 at 11:29:39 AM EST

A friend of mine was once detained from entering Canada because he was heading to a furry convention. The reason he was detained was because he had with him a fursuit (a full-body furry costume), and the customs folks wanted to stop him from engaging in "bizarre sexual practices." (No, he is not a lifestyler, and he was not going to have sex in it.) They finally let him through, but gave him a lot of grief for a "damned alternative lifestyle."

"Is not a quine" is not a quine.
I have a master's degree in science!

[ Hug Your Trikuare ]
[ Parent ]

Canadian Freedom on the air? (4.83 / 6) (#29)
by Mad Hughagi on Mon Apr 09, 2001 at 12:09:30 AM EST

I'm Canadian. Do you have any idea how revolting the very idea of that is to me? Shove your US version of freedom up your ass.

I don't mean to be offensive, but in this situation I am afraid you are highly unaware of what our glorious CRTC (canadian equivalent of the FCC) invokes on us canadian radio programmers (DJ's).

Like the US, we have a no swearing rule in effect (whether infractions result in a fine is unknown to me). Only shows between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m. at our station can play questionable music. Pretty much the same situation.

As well as this however, canadian radio stations are forced to play 1/3 canadian content. Yes, you've heard me right, 1/3 - even though there is probably less than 200 canadian cd's released in a year (of which only about 20 are worth playing at all). It's a tough cut to make, that's for sure - especially when you do your show primarily in vinyl, for 1.5 hours every week, 52 weeks a year.

At least in the US you can play as much music from any artist in the world. Here we are forced to play genre's favoured by the canadian majority, simply due to this quota (and the fact that the majority(not all!)of canadian artists are rock/alternative/folk). I dj a drum and bass / reggae show with my roomate and it is near impossible to make this quota. You want freedom in Canada? You surely won't find it in diverse music on the radio.

Even in a city as large as Toronto (3 million) it was not until very recently that an urban radio station was even considered - something you can find a dime a dozen in the states. And over 50% of metro residents are non-caucasion.

The CRTC caters to the canadian majority. In trying to promote canadian material it stiffles the individual creativity of radio programmers and funnels almost all radio programming into the popular canadian styles. That isn't freedom. Next time you make a comparison between Canada and the U.S. please make sure you realize the situation.


We don't make the products you like, we make you like the products we make.
[ Parent ]

Rush (2.00 / 2) (#31)
by eudas on Mon Apr 09, 2001 at 12:41:12 AM EST

Hey I could deal with listening to 8 hours of Rush a day... :)

"We're placing this wood in your ass for the good of the world" -- mrgoat
[ Parent ]
hmm (2.66 / 3) (#38)
by core10k on Mon Apr 09, 2001 at 11:02:51 AM EST

Yes, most Canadians know about the CRTC. (Canadians will grin at that one) And we know about our bizarre importantion laws too. This is common knowledge.

My point was that Americans have this version of freedom spinning in their heads that is roughly equivalant to your average police state.

That is all. Good day.

[ Parent ]
CRTC standards for french radio stations (4.00 / 2) (#41)
by petenorm on Mon Apr 09, 2001 at 01:48:47 PM EST

Believe me, 1/3 Canadian music is not so bad on english radio station. In the province of Québec, radio station have to play 60% french content (canadian or not). Now, that's a pain to listen to all day if you concider the quality of french music available... Pete

[ Parent ]
Quebec Doesn't Have the Authority (4.50 / 2) (#45)
by Rahoule on Mon Apr 09, 2001 at 04:08:37 PM EST

In the province of Québec, radio stations have to play 60% french content (canadian or not).

Well, there goes Québec again. As far as I know, they have no right to impose that restriction. Communications are governed at the federal level in Canada. A while back, the Québec gov't tried to crack down on personal websites hosted in Québec that weren't in French. They got smacked down by the feds, who pointed out that communications were under federal jurisdiction in Canada.

In fact, I know now that the "60% French" restriction is false. There are English radio stations in Québec that play far more than 40% English music. Oldies 990 and CHOM-FM in Montréal are both English stations and play a lot of English music.

The restriction I believe is that if a station is English, they must play mostly English music, and if a station is French, they must play mostly French music. IIRC, the federal gov't was responsible for that rule. I don't know of any percentages, but I have heard a fair amount of English music from French stations, and the odd French song on English radio.

And, by the way, I would like to apologize to all Americans for my fellow countryman's rudeness -- "shove the U.S. version of freedom..." He's probably just mad about the poor currency exchange rate or something...

[ Parent ]
re : Quebec Doesn't Have the Authority (4.00 / 1) (#49)
by petenorm on Tue Apr 10, 2001 at 09:19:29 AM EST

You're right, Québec doesn't have the authority. In fact, that rules comes directly from the CRTC (who was probably influenced by the Quebec government to create it). I should have said that it only applies to french radio stations, the english stations from Québec are regulated by the 1/3 canadian content rule. The rule is as follow : A radio station should not play more that 40% english music in a day. There is also a maximum amount of english music that can be played in an hour. (60% i think). That rule was introduced because some radio stations were playing all english music during the day and was playing all french music after 7pm to reach the quota. So here you go. The 60% french rule is true but it applies only to french radio station. And not all region have english radio station, so we pretty much suffer from it...

[ Parent ]
re: take 2 (5.00 / 1) (#50)
by petenorm on Tue Apr 10, 2001 at 09:29:19 AM EST

Sorry for the multiple replies. Last reply was from memory. I went to the CRTC web site and found the following:

(5) Except as otherwise provided under a licensee's condition of licence, an A.M. or F.M. licensee licensed to operate a campus station, commercial station or community station in the French language shall, in a broadcast week, devote 65% or more of its vocal musical selections from content category 2 to musical selections in the French language broadcast in their entirety.
(10) Except as otherwise provided under a licensee's condition of licence, an A.M. or F.M. licensee licensed to operate a commercial station in the French language shall, between 6:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m., in any period beginning on Monday of a week and ending on Friday of the same week, devote 55% or more of its vocal musical selections from content category 2 to musical selections in the French language broadcast in their entirety.

For more see : http://www.crtc.gc.ca/ENG/LEGAL/Radioreg.htm

That whould clarify it.

[ Parent ]
No Québec music is good (3.00 / 1) (#52)
by Sylvain Tremblay on Tue Apr 10, 2001 at 11:33:59 PM EST

Now, that's a pain to listen to all day if you concider the quality of french music available...

But that is not true, you. Quebecois music is among the very best. Les Colocs, Plume Latraverse, Loco Locass, Yvon Krevé, Okoumé, Fred Fortin and many others are excellent, they are. And Québec is the world capitol of francophone country music which is very good.

m'appelle sylvain pi chu l'facho dla grammaire
[ Parent ]

re:No Québec music is good (3.00 / 1) (#53)
by petenorm on Wed Apr 11, 2001 at 11:43:38 AM EST

It all depends what type of music you like. If pop or country music is your type, you may have some choice. If you're more into rock and hard rock, you can listen to a lot of radio before hearing a good song. And don't start naming Québec rock band to me and tell me they are good, my opinion will just stand as it is. But then, it's all a question of taste.

[ Parent ]
core10k comment (3.33 / 3) (#37)
by synfin on Mon Apr 09, 2001 at 09:50:46 AM EST

It is comments like yours that give Canadians the term "Flap-heads."

[ Parent ]
almost funny (3.75 / 4) (#43)
by spish on Mon Apr 09, 2001 at 03:22:32 PM EST

God knows the rules could do with some clarification, but this still seems pretty bizarre to me.
I was a DJ in the US for a while until fairly recently, and coming from a country where control over this sort of thing is much more lenient I found found the FCC rules quite baffling. Why are both "fuck" and "motherfucker" included in the Seven Naughty Words? Why is bad to refer to sexual intercourse in general ("fuck") but seemingly OK to to refer to anal intercourse ("bugger" isn't on the list). Is it because "bugger" is more commonly used in British than American Englsh? Am I then allowed to swear in languages other than English? Can they do this on the Spanish language radio stations?
My favourite guideline was that some legal precedent had established that it was OK to say "God damn" as long as you were using the expression colloquially an not literally calling down the wrath of God to condemn someone to Hell.
In reality it just made life stupid annoying when I couldn't play the records I wanted or had to piss around editing them, and hoping that on the few occasions I slipped up there wouldn't be an outraged moralistic nutter clobbering us for $10,000 - which would have shut the station down permanently.

almost funny (2.50 / 2) (#44)
by spish on Mon Apr 09, 2001 at 03:24:52 PM EST

God knows the rules could do with some clarification, but this still seems pretty bizarre to me.
I was a DJ in the US for a while until fairly recently, and coming from a country where control over this sort of thing is much more lenient I found found the FCC rules quite baffling. Why are both "fuck" and "motherfucker" included in the Seven Naughty Words? Why is it bad to refer to sexual intercourse in general ("fuck") but seemingly OK to to refer to anal intercourse ("bugger" isn't on the list). Is it because "bugger" is more commonly used in British than American Englsh? Am I then allowed to swear in languages other than English? Can they do this on the Spanish language radio stations?
My favourite guideline was that some legal precedent had established that it was OK to say "God damn" as long as you were using the expression colloquially and not literally calling down the wrath of God to condemn someone to Hell.
It would have been laughable but in reality it just made life stupid annoying when I couldn't play the records I wanted or had to piss around editing them, and hoping that on the few occasions I slipped up there wouldn't be an outraged moralistic nutter clobbering us for $10,000 - which would have shut the station down permanently.

Dang! (3.00 / 2) (#48)
by Punikki on Tue Apr 10, 2001 at 04:09:54 AM EST

In Finland, you have to have live sex to get negative attention on radio... and they did. Hahhah. I mean, live SEX with oohs, aahs, oh yeahs. I think they(Kiss FM) got a notice from some radio journo board or something, but nothing serious, I guess. It did cause some uproar on tabloids. I wish I had been listening it at the moment. Boohoo! Americans are such hipocrits. Shove your freedom up your arseholes. PC(politically correct) my arse. More like overcautious because the "moral candles" of people are such popular. Old aunties with flowers on your hats, go home.

Dang? (none / 0) (#56)
by jude on Thu Apr 12, 2001 at 03:20:06 PM EST

Respecting others' sensibilities is a common act of courtesy. They should respect yours by not labeling you as morally inferior because of the way you choose to express yourself or the subjects you choose to express yourself on. And you should respect theirs by not saying things they consider offensive within earshot of them. Radios, last time I checked, still can be turned off or tuned to another station. Rather than whine or try to get laws made against it, they should turn it off or pick something else to listen to, as I am sure you would choose to do if someone advocating their viewpoint was speaking out of your radio.

You being offended at what you perceive as their prudery is as bad as them being offended at what they perceive as your profanity.

Getting along is a two way street. And the human race, you and I included, is chock full of ridiculous notions that we could never hope to prove as objectively true, and yet we still choose to believe them.

So do what you like, how you like, with gusto in the company of like minded people. You might want to steer clear of old aunties with flowers in their hats for thirty or fory years, but it is possible that you may someday appreciate their point of view. And equally possible that they may one day come to appreciate yours.

[ Parent ]
Live dismemberment (none / 0) (#59)
by BierGuzzl on Fri Apr 20, 2001 at 11:19:30 PM EST

So... since we can't take a dump or have sex on live radio, we're left with a few less options, the most notable of which would be gratuitous violence.

Instead of Raving about jiggly titties, we can have people tied up and skinned alive on the radio, toes and fingers cut off... ooooo live torture... with the hourly update on the man in solitary confinement! Next, we'll see if the cat we threw in the well has drowned yet, and have a call-in auction for it's pelt! (All proceeds to be donated to the local food bank) Now there's food for thought that the FCC should ponder on.
- doh -

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