Extremely violent programming should be added to the Federal Communications Commission's definition of indecent content, Morality in Media told the agency. Violent scenes have no more constitutional protection than do the depictions of sexual or excretory activities the FCC already restricts, the group said in comments filed with the commission.
“The Supreme Court did not modify its definition [of indecency] to restrict the phrase to 'in sexual connotations,'" it said. The group also argued that, unlike a safe harbor allowing sexual and excretory depictions between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m., there should be no safe harbor when indecent violence would be permitted.
“No statue requires it” and court rulings say indecency protections should be afforded both children and non-consenting adults.
Morality in Media's suggested definition of indecency would restrict “outrageously offensive or outrageously disgusting” violence as determined by contemporary; community standards.
Severed or mutilated human bodies and parts would also be off-limits. Historical depictions of war--“especially those purporting to be distant in time,” cowboy shootouts and Star Wars laser battles would be permitted, however.
Violence set in contemporary periods should be given less leeway because they are “touchstones that can be more easily imitated,” Morality in Media General Counsel Paul McGeady said in an interview. Still, even historical or warfare violence such as close-up depictions of scalping or mutilation would be restricted because the average person would find them “outrageously offensive” or outrageously disgusting.” Morality in Media submitted its comments in response to the FCC's ongoing inquiry into the need for restrictions on violent programming.
An inquiry is two steps removed from approving actual rules. Comments aren't due until Oct. 15, but McGeady said his group submitted early to get the discussion going earlier.