Earlier this week, the Federal Communications Commission said that broadcasters have "only limited First Amendment protection," that the V-chip is "ineffective," and that they have every right to mete out punishment for the use of swear words as indecent practice.
I don't know about you, but when I hear a government agency scoff at the First Amendment, I get rattled.
Now for some background.
As noted by Broadcasting & Cable magazine's Washington, D.C correspondent John Eggerton, the FCC Wednesday both defended its profanity findings against cussing in Fox's Billboard Music Awards while defending.its right to enforce indecency violations.
You know the words. One of them pertains to bovine scatology. The other one rhymes with the name of a very common aquatic fowl. Bono used a conjugate of the latter.
The FCC's contention was included in its filing to the Second Circuit Court of Appeals of a brief responding to a broadcaster challenge of four profanity rulings issued last March.
So what do I think? Hey, I am a First Amendment guy. I do know that some screenwriters would include, say, that ultimately tasteless maternal incestous allegation every other word if they could. But if say, an earnest, Sunday School-attending 11 year-old hears that term while flicking around the channels on Wednesday night, is it going to corrupt her?
Of course not.
But keep the use of these terms to a minimum, and keep them relevant.
So if you are showing a barroom fight, "you dirty rat" doesn't get it.
There's also an online content issue here.
Given that so many shows are now streamed over Internet broadband, and to mobile devices as well, I wonder whether the FCC will stick their nose in those channels as well.
Well, shucks. I'll be darned if I know.
But maybe you do.