Guns, penises, and now tongues?

The following story was sent to me in an email from

Rolling Stone Blames Obscenity Worries on Republicans

A Rolling Stone article entitled "Republicans Blast Bono" details the bi-partisan support of an FCC crackdown on broadcasters who allow words like f***, which the singer uttered on the 2003 Golden Globes awards show.

Despite the magazine's headline, a few Democrats don't like the obscenity. South Carolina Democratic Senator Ernest "Fritz" Holings has teamed up with other Republicans to ask the FCC to revoke the license of television stations that broadcast repeatedly material that is indecent.

The resolution was a response to FCC chairman Michael Powell's speech to the National Press Club attacking profane speech as abhorrent and irresponsible. Rocker Steve Earle defended Bono, saying that no one except the Christian right "gives a f***" about whether someone uses profanity over the airwaves.

And one network spokesman, Scott Grogan, said such "unguarded moments" are exactly what makes live T.V. so exciting and "vital."

For his part, Bono's excuse was simply that it's hard to control your tongue when you use such profanity in everyday speech. No offense.

OK, let's assume the movement to "clean up" the airwaves is as much coming from the left as it is from the right. What the hell difference does that make?

My objection to this "movement" is not based on whether "Bush is behind it" or whether "the Democrats" are behind it. I just don't like it, period.

Americans -- without regard to political affiliation -- should oppose government meddling with what we want to hear. People get all exercised about such things as low-flow toilets which don't flush. Is interference with the free exercise of speech any less invasive?

Or odious?

If anything, the fact that the left and the right join hands in promoting a more "muscular" approach to "tongue control" only confirms what I have been saying all along about the phony choices we are offered. One side wants gun control. The other wants penis control. Now, according to Newsmax, BOTH want tongue control.

If history shows anything, it's that tongue control can be carried too far!

posted by Eric on 03.01.04 at 02:28 PM


Nat Hentoff once remarked that the urge to censor your opponent is more powerful than even the urge to have sex. I know that very well. Have to resist the temptation, have to defend the free speech of my most loathsome enemy even as I defend my own.

Everybody has a right to speak his or her mind. I have a right to listen to or read whatever I damn please whether the government likes it or not. If I don't like what they're saying, I can turn it off, read another book or article or magazine, go to another Website or blog, tell the guy off, or punch him in the mouth, ha! ha! (and get punched back if I do that, ha! ha!)

Am I the only one who thinks that this article is rediculous in light of the FCC ruling that decided it was OK for him to say it since he wasn't referring to a sex act?

Phelps   ·  March 2, 2004 6:29 PM

They are trying to get the FCC to REVERSE its decision.

Here's the Rolling Stone article:

On January 13th, FCC chairman Michael Powell demanded that the decision be reversed. "I personally believe that this growing coarseness in use of such profanity . . . is abhorrent and irresponsible," Powell said at a National Press Club luncheon on January 14th. "And it's irresponsible of our programmers to continue to try to push the envelope." Powell, who will need votes from at least two of his fellow commissioners to reverse the decision, also called on Congress to raise obscenity fines on broadcasters to at least ten times the present maximum of $27,500 per violation.

Within hours of Powell's speech, Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.) said that he would seek to dramatically increase penalties for broadcasters. Eleven other Republicans and Sen. Ernest "Fritz" Hollings (D-S.C.) have sponsored a resolution that asks the FCC to revoke the license of television stations that repeatedly air indecent material. A bill sponsored by Rep. Doug Ose (R-Calif.) and Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas) even aims to completely ban, from all radio and network television broadcasts, the following words: shit, piss, fuck, cunt, cocksucker, motherfucker and asshole.

How could they put such language in a bill?

My blog could be blocked even for talking about it!

Eric Scheie   ·  March 2, 2004 10:08 PM

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