It has been interesting following events surrounding the racist comments uttered by, now out of work, radio host Don Imus. No need to repeat the comments made by Mr Imus, who has now had his apology accepted by the Rutgers women’s basketball team, but the fall out has been interesting for someone sat the other side of the Atlantic. What fascinates me most is the position of the FCC when it comes to investigating any complaint made about the incident. The consensus view seems to be that the FCC can not and will not do anything because their hands will be tied by the first amendment rights to free speech. Now, I wouldn’t have a problem with this stance if is were not for the fact that the FCC seem to have no problem with the first amendment when it comes to swearing – broadcast someone swearing during a live event and they’ll fine you and threaten to pull your licence (and in the case of NBC they go back in time to fine you – it is all Bono’s fault) but broadcast racist comments and it seem you’ll be fine. Is it just me that thinks the world is screwed up if this is the logic on which the FCC operates??
Thankfully the obvious flaws in the FCC’s expansion of its rules to deal with obscenity and indecency in Television (and the special addition of profanity as a separate category of proscribed speech under the law) should get its deserved comeuppance when the Second Circuit Court of Appeals hand down its decision in Fox Television v. FCC in the next couple of months