[Editor’s Note: There may be some language in this column that readers find offensive-and could get you a large fine if you’re a broadcaster. For the record, CableFAX Daily’s editors softened some of the words in this column, not Steve Effros.] The FCC fined Fox broadcast stations more than one million dollars the other day. At least it was for content—not just words! I think the whole idea of the government seriously getting into the censorship business is a bad idea, but when that censorship is based purely on the use of a word it becomes absurd. In the Fox case, the Federal Arbiters of Taste decided a show was too raunchy. The sexual themes too pronounced, the blurred out or pixilated naked breasts too obviously still breasts. Hence, a $1.3mln fine! But prior to that, the Commission started on a series of enforcement actions against the use of "forbidden" words. You know, the "seven dirty words" that George Carlin made famous: (let’s see how my editors handle this one!) Sh-t, P-ss, F—k, Cu—, C—ks—ker, Motherf—-er and T-ts. There, didn’t that make you feel better? Were you forever tainted? Had you never heard one or more of them before? OK, so I can see that one or two of those words might offend you. Heck, listening to the presidential debates, there are entire sentences and paragraphs that offend me. But that doesn’t mean the government should be in the business of regulating words. Of course, it’s election season, so I shouldn’t be so surprised that yet another crusade has started (another offensive word to some)—this one about what’s on broadcast TV. But a word is a word is a word. As the old chant we all said in grade school goes: "sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me." For a while some lawyers at the Commission tried to be reasonable. When Bono used one of the no-no’s as a joyous expletive upon winning an award, they recognized that it was not in a sexual or indecent context; they ultimately were overruled by the politicians. Post Super Bowl, use of any of "the words" is out, no matter what. Clearly "family values" is hot this election year. But just the other week this out-of-control morality hit a speed bump. Dale Earnhardt Jr. had just won a NASCAR event and live, on NBC, when he was asked whether this was the equivalent of his father’s wins, he used the "S" word in commenting that it didn’t mean much in comparison. Well, that’s the vernacular all good ol’ boys use when they get out of church on Sunday and go to the races. What’s the big deal? NASCAR fined Dale and, more important, he lost points from his total to be the "top" driver this year. All "H" (can we use the word Hell?—it’s not on the list) broke out and the good ol’ boys are hopping mad. They’ve had enough of this hokey "political correctness" stuff. Notice how it goes from "moral values" to "political correctness" depending on who says what, when? That’s why the government should stay out of it. Now NBC will have a five- second delay on all live events (political debates, too?) to make sure we are not injured by a stray word. Absurd. Yes, there are programs that have gotten increasingly and consistently crude. I simply turn them off. Don’t need the government to do it for me. It’s time personal responsibility was the mantra, not government control—because it can get way out of control very quickly. And yes, before you ask, that goes for our kids, too.

The Daily

Subscribe

Doing Good

TDS donated $5000 to the beautification efforts in Carlsbad, New Mexico. Carlsbad

Read the Full Issue
The Skinny is delivered on Tuesday and focuses on the cable profession. You'll stay in the know on the headlines, topics and special issues you value most. Sign Up