End the FCC’s War on Free Speech
November 5, 2008
Washington, D.C.--On November 4, the Supreme Court heard arguments in Federal Communications Commission v. Fox Television Stations. At issue is whether the FCC can declare “fleeting expletives” indecent and fine broadcasters for violations.
“The government should put an end to the non-objective ‘indecency’ laws that permit the FCC to dictate what Americans can say and hear on the airwaves,” said Don Watkins, a writer for the Ayn Rand Center for Individual Rights.
“The Supreme Court has defined ‘indecency’ as speech that ‘depicts or describes sexual or excretory activities and organs in terms patently offensive as measured by contemporary community standards.’ But which Americans count--and don’t count--as part of the community? Why are they king? And how are broadcasters to divine the community’s supposedly shared standards?
“As the history of the government’s anti-indecency regime has shown, these questions are unanswerable. The only way for broadcasters to play it safe is to engage in self-censorship, cutting any material regulators might declare indecent.
“And once the government becomes the enforcer of ‘community standards,’ no speech is safe. How long until the courts start rubber-stamping the Bible Belt’s efforts to suppress the theory of evolution on the grounds that it is offensive, corrupts young minds, and undermines community values?
“It’s time for the government to stop telling Americans what we can say and hear on the airwaves, and to protect our constitutionally guaranteed right to free speech.”
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Don Watkins and other Ayn Rand Center experts are available for interviews on this topic.
Contact: Larry Benson
Phone: (949) 222-6550, ext. 213
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