|(c) Chicago Tribune|
This morning the Supreme Court made up its mind about whether the FCC (Fuck-Censoring Cadre) should continue doing what it does, namely making sure no CHILDREN hear any foul language or see any tits on network and basic cable television BECAUSE THE CHILDREN MIGHT CHILDREN CHILDREN ON THE CHILDREN. And, considering that it was a unanimous decision, the Court certainly did make up its mind. Their verdict? Keep up the good work, boys. Justice Kennedy's decision wasn't as much an affirmation of the FCC's mandate as it was punting; from the look of things it was like “yeah, sure, the FCC's doing God's work CHILDRENING CHILDREN FROM CHILDREN CHILDREN, keep it up, now get out of here so we can make a stupid decision about Obama's healthcare plan.”
Now, look, it's not like Scalia and Thomas (and Roberts and Alito) were going to wake up one morning and be like “You know what? Let's not be right-wing shitheads.” Übermenschen like that wake up every morning and say “Hell of a day to be alive! Let's be right-wing shitheads all goddamn day and then wake up tomorrow and be right-wing shitheads some more.” And heaven forbid the alleged liberals on the Court remind people that the First Amendment exists. So it's not like the FCC was going to be dissolved or anything. The game is the game. But what is is one thing, what should be is another, and what the FCC should be is a memory. It's a violation of the constitutional prohibition against restricting free speech. It should not exist, and only does because WHAT IF CHILDREN HEAR SWEARCURSES AND SEE SATAN TITS????????
The stupidest thing is, the same people who engage in all that frantic pearl-clutching about protecting the (hypothetical) kids and the necessity of maintaining a governmental regulatory body to that end scream like, well, kids whenever anyone talks about regulating shit that has an actual effect on actual people. We cannot abide billionaires paying income tax at the same rate as their employees, but the thought of some imaginary angelic rosy-cheeked middle-American white kid hearing the word “fuck” for the first time at the age of 10 while watching CSI: Dubuque after finishing his Bible study, that we need a governmental agency for. This is more than just left-right “the other side has cooties” silliness. Billionaires, and the corporations many of them head, have enormous effects on every human being on Earth. They have massive amounts of the thing—money—that makes the world go 'round. It makes a certain degree of sense to keep an eye on the fuckers and make sure they're not pulling any funnies, which is not to say that we need to throw the Evil White Guys In Suits up against the wall or anything, but asking billionaires to actually pay income tax and not just whimsically destroy communities with massive layoffs just cuz what the fuck is not outrageous. If you live in the real world, you should play by the same rules as everyone else.
So why am I advocating shitcanning the entire FCC? Because those hypothetical kids everyone's always fucking moaning about don't exist. When I was a little kid, I heard people cursing all the time (even though I had “dick” and “butt” confused until I was about 5; this may explain my lifelong fondness for Bette Davis and Oscar Wilde). I knew the rules, though: don't ever curse around your grandparents OR ELSE, only curse around my dad if I was in the mood for an anguished lecture, and only curse around my mom if I was actually being funny. Obviously, specifics may vary kid to kid, but every kid knows you don't curse in certain situations OR ELSE. Just ask that kid in Hope And Glory, in re: “fuck”: “That word is special.” They know the word, that doesn't mean they use it all the time. As far as sexual content messing kids up, that's a giant pile of shit. Absent the hormones that produce sexual desire, movies and TV shows with naked people and/or sex scenes are boring. Were Sofia Vergara to have a nude scene with her tetas out on Modern Family, little kids would not give a fuck. If anything they'd be happy about the day off they got from school the next day when a national holiday was declared. But I digress.
Given how dumb it is to censor some kinds of TV and not others, the existence of the FCC as currently constituted doesn't really make a ton of sense. Its regulatory priorities are based on outmoded and/or imaginary ideas of what offends people and plays into the fallacy that prohibition is the only alternative to chaos. Not only is that not the case, but prohibition creates allure, completely aside from the fact that it doesn't work. When booze was illegal, everyone was like oooh and sneaking around to speakeasies. Weed being illegal won't bring back my memories of anything that happened between 1995 and whenever the hell I stopped blazing, if I even did . . . anyway, you get the point, and it's highly doubtful that weed would occupy the pop cultural niche it did if you could go to the bodega and buy a pack of joints. Not having nudity on TV doesn't mean there's no sexual content. Sex is all over the goddamn place on TV, to the point where letting a matter-of-fact nipple or dick slip through would barely even be noticed, and if it did it'd take the feverish mystery out of all the innuendo. And not letting the hallowed Seven Words be broadcast over the airwaves doesn't mean people don't curse on TV, they just use stupid curse substitutes that call more attention toward the fact that the character is cursing than it would if they just said fuck and shit. Yeah. The FCC is making things worse.
The good news about the Supreme Court punting rather than setting some “thus it ever shall be” shit in stone is that at some point, maybe after Barack gets to appoint a couple justices in his second term, another Court might be like “Ya know what? This is silly. Go get real jobs, guys.” Because it is silly. Either eliminating—or, more realistically, redefining the purpose of—the FCC is not going to lead to hardcore pornography being broadcast at dinnertime. In all likelihood, cursing and titties hour wouldn't start til at least 10pm even in the absence of some bluenose regulatory body saying so. Networks will realize that the notoriety (FCC or no FCC, Christian groups will shit a brick if someone says “shit a brick” in prime time) of being naughty is not a solid long-term investment. Because when you don't treat people like children, they act like adults.