What a difference a decade makes: Shortly before the House Commerce Committee approved hiking indecency fines to a $500,000 maximum, Republicans on the committee recalled a time when they opposed such heavy-handed rules.
Indiana’s Steve Buyer reminded committee colleagues that he, like 80% of House Republicans, rejected the government’s last attempt to shield children from sex and violence in 1995: the V-chip requirement.
At the time, the channel-blocking technology was viewed as the least restrictive of free speech—without all the chilling effect of a fine—since it gave parents a choice.
“Republicans who had a libertarian view back then were saying, ‘You’ve got an on/off switch,’” he said. “Now all of sudden we’re saying, ‘How far is indecency going and what type of proactive move should we take?’”
Committee Chairman Joe Barton, who also voted against the V-chip, thanked Buyer, then quickly chose another lawmaker to speak. Other Commerce Committee Republicans who voted against the V-chip: New Hampshire’s Charles Bass, Georgia’s Nathan Deal and Charlie Norwood, Arizona’s John Shadegg, Florida’s Michael Bilirakis and Cliff Stearns and Kentucky’s Ed Whitfield. Each voted for the higher fines.