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defending the First Amendment against the Christian right ...

Jews On First!

... because if Jews don't speak out, they'll think we don't mind

Religious right and FCC Chair go ballistic over court's reversal of absolutist FCC ruling forbidding obscenity

Statement Of FCC Chairman Kevin Martin On 2nd Circuit Court Of Appeals Indecency Decision

Kevin Martin, Federal Communications Commission, June 4, 2007

Today, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals in New York said the use of the words "fuck" and "shit" by Cher and Nicole Richie was not indecent. The court even says the Commission is "divorced from reality." It is the New York court, not the Commission, that is divorced from reality in concluding that the word "fuck" does not invoke a sexual connotation. Continue

FCC Chair Goes Ape-Sh** After Appeals Court Tosses Out His "Indecency" Decisions

Jonathan Rintels, The Huffington Post, June 4, 2007

As expected, the FCC's decisions regulating so-called "indecency" on television were tossed out by a U.S. Court of Appeals today on the grounds that they were far too "arbitrary and capricious" to be lawful. The decisions involved Bono, Cher, and Nicole Ritchie each using what the lawyers call "fleeting expletives," namely the "f - " and "s - " words, on live broadcasts of music awards shows.

Along with many other parties, the Center for Creative Voices in Media told the court that these overly broad and arbitrary Commission decisions put creative, challenging, controversial, non-homogenized broadcast television programming at risk. In many cases, the very kinds of television programs that parents want their children to watch -- high quality documentaries, histories, and dramas -- were bleeped, re-edited, delayed, or dropped entirely. Thus, the chilling effect of these now-overturned Commission decisions harmed not only media artists, but the American public. We documented this chilling effect in our report filed with the court, Big Chill: How the FCC's Indecency Decisions Stifle Free Expression, Threaten Quality Television, and Harm America's Children. We're pleased, but not surprised, that the court agreed.

Last April, the FCC told Congress that it could give the Commission new powers to regulate so-called "violent" broadcast television content, however that might ultimately be defined. In light of today's clear Court of Appeals ruling that the FCC has abused its discretion to regulate television content, and acted "arbitrarily and capriciously," it would be extremely unwise -- even irresponsible -- for Congress to now grant these exponentially expanded new powers to the Commission. Continue

Broadcasters Win Appeal Of FCC's Profanity Ruling

Frank Ahrens, The Washington Post, June 5, 2007

A federal appeals court tossed out an indecency ruling against Rupert Murdoch's Fox television network yesterday and broadly questioned whether the Federal Communications Commission has the right to police the airwaves for offensive language.

In a 2 to 1 decision, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit in New York ruled that the FCC went too far in issuing a 2006 decision against Fox Broadcasting for separate incidents in 2002 and 2003 after singer Cher and celebrity Nicole Richie each uttered an expletive on live television.

The ruling is a rebuke to the FCC and a victory for television networks, which in recent years have pushed back against the FCC's crackdown on indecency. In 2004, the agency reversed years of policy and effectively branded even "fleeting," or one-time, use of an expletive off-limits on broadcast television and radio, angering Hollywood, which warned of a chilling effect on programming. Continue.

Judges toss FCC rule on cursing
Appeals court says incidental use on TV is not indecent

Jim Puzzanghera, The Baltimore Sun, June 5, 2007

Washington -- In a victory for TV networks but a setback for efforts to shield children from coarse language, a federal appeals court ruled yesterday that broadcasters cannot be penalized for expletives that are considered impromptu. The three-judge panel in New York repudiated the Federal Communications Commission's recent crackdown on broadcast indecency, calling its efforts "arbitrary and capricious."

TV networks long have complained that enforcement of the rules is inconsistent and unpredictable. Although the 2-1 decision sent the issue back to the FCC for rethinking, the strong rebuke prompted some advocacy groups and lawmakers to urge the agency to appeal to the Supreme Court. Continue.

Creative Voices Tells Supreme Court to Uphold Reversal of Flawed FCC Indecency Decisions

News Release, Center for Creative Voices in the Media, August 1, 2008

Creative Voices today filed a brief urging the U.S. Supreme Court to uphold last year's well-reasoned Second Circuit reversal of the FCC's flawed indecency decisions in Fox v. FCC -- the Cher, Nicole Ritchie, and Bono "fleeting expletives" case.

CV is an intervening party in the case, arguing that the FCC's arbitrary enforcement of its indecency rules has created a "chilling effect" that harms creative artists and the general public.

Big Chill: How the FCC’s Indecency Decisions Stifle Free Expression, Threaten Quality Television, and Harm America’s Children, our report documenting numerous incidents of censorship and the insidious harm of the "chilling effect," was attached to the Supreme Court brief as an appendix. Continue

F***, S*** and Other Typos

Daniel Henninger, Wall Street, June 14, 2007

Some may recall the days when the Li'l Abner comic-strip characters in daily newspapers blew off steam, not with a string of profanities, but with a babbling brook of crazy typewriter symbols: "Why you no good l!!#&+!%l!!"

Thus we were touched to see how the daily press covered the story of the Federal Communications Commission's losing day in court in the Case of the Fleeting Expletives.

The Second Circuit Court of Appeals has just ruled that the FCC lacked authority to sanction the TV networks for the broadcast of unscripted profanity, or "fleeting expletives," specifically as articulated live on network TV by Cher ("People have been telling me I'm on my way out every year, right? So f*** 'em"); and by Nicole Ritchie ("Have you ever tried to get cows*** out of a Prada purse? It's not so f****** simple"). Continue.

The Curse of the Courts

Email from Family Research Council Action Center, June 5, 2007

The years of work by groups like FRC who fought to increase fines for broadcast indecency were undone in a controversial ruling yesterday. By a 2-1 vote, the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals found that "fleeting expletives" should not be banned and sided with Fox, NBC, and CBS by overturning the federal communications policy that fined networks $325,000 for each violation. In the court's opinion, the FCC's new rules are "arbitrary" and "capricious." On the contrary, the FCC's policy held broadcasters responsible for using profanity in any context and made network television a safer place for the public. The court even took a gratuitous swipe at the President and Vice President saying, "In recent times even the top leaders of our government have used variants of these expletives." Yet the main difference between our leaders and broadcast television is that their conversations were private and not subject to the jurisdiction of the FCC. Judge Rosemary Pooler said that the FCC's policy is not relevant "in the era of cable television and the Internet to which FCC rules do not apply." In other words, if the agency can't police every medium, it may as well not police any! However, in the public interest we urge the agency to appeal this ruling.

"Artistic Expression" of the F-word on Public Airwaves Protected by Second Circuit Court of Appeals

Concerned Women for America Press Release, June 11, 2007

Washington, D.C. -- The U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals declared a profanity free-for-all on primetime network television on Monday. The FCC’s rule to protect our children against inappropriate "artistic expressions" during live programming is now under scrutiny.

Matt Barber, Concerned Women for America’s (CWA) Policy Director for Cultural Issues, said, "With this ruling the Second Circuit has essentially declared a profanity free-for-all on primetime network television, a time when children are most likely to be viewing. The court ruled that it was ‘arbitrary and capricious’ for the FCC to restrict the ‘fleeting’ use -- whatever that means -- of the harshest of expletives, including the F-word. The Fox Television Network has said, and the court apparently agreed, that the FCC regulation, ‘serves no purpose other than to chill artistic expression in violation of the First Amendment.’ So it now ‘chills artistic expression’ to place even the most reasonable and limited of protective barriers between a four-year-old and the F-word on daytime television? Just when you think we can’t sink any lower as a society, we do." Continue