Almost Right About Indecency

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Deborah Taylor Tate made one of those mistakes that disturb me in someone who holds some power over what I can see and hear.

Her office sent out a copy of the op ed she wrote for conservative newspaper The Washington Times over the weekend, in which she defended the FCC's indecency crackdown and said broadcasters need to be more responsible about what they program.

In it, she said that it is against U.S. law to broadcast obscene, indecent or profane content on the public airwaves.

She was a third right, which will get you into the hall of fame as a baseball batting average but in the hall of shame in the "knowing your indecency rules" average.

Obscenity is illegal at any time of day or night, it being without any redeeming social importance so the court has said. Indecency and profane content is, by contrast, protected speech, though you wouldn't necessarily know it from this FCC.

Anyway, f-words and s-words and Janet Jacksons b-words are legal and protected from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m.

Her office, Tate's not Jackson's, conceded that since the commissioner did not actaully say that they were protectedspeech, but instead illegal, there was some cause for misinterpretation, but assured me she knew and had meant that they were illegal at times when kids were likely to be in the audience, which the FCC has defined as 6 a.m.to 10 p.m.

Of course, they aren't that either, but only sometimes, when the FCC decides they aren't.

I guess I'll just have to take her word, rather than her printed word, for it.

By John Eggerton

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