At the Supreme Court argument, Justice Antonin Scalia lamented the "coarsening of manners," adding, "I am not persuaded by the argument that people are more accustomed to hearing these words than they were in the past." I share Scalia's concerns about the coarsening of public manners on television, but he is willfully denying the evidence that most Americans no longer view fleeting expletives as indecent. The Supreme Court has said that the FCC can only ban epithets that are considered genuinely offensive by contemporary community standards. For that reason, the justices should strike down the Bush FCC's fleeting expletive policy, and, if they don't, the Obama FCC should repeal it. But this suggests a real problem--the vulgarization of culture--without a clear legal, political, or even technological solution.I originally wrote out "fuck" in the post title, but then I changed it.... if that means anything. I doubt if my sensibilities here are much more probative of what "people" are accustomed to hearing these days than Scalia's.
December 1, 2008
It makes a difference, according to Jeffrey Rosen, talking about the Supreme Court's pending "fleeting expletives" case. (The question is what can the FCC do to broadcasters if Cher suddenly says "People have been telling me I'm on the way out every year, right? So fuck 'em" and so forth.)