December 03, 2004


To the battle stations! Michael Powell's defense of FCC censorship has suffered a good deal of ridicule around the internets. Much as I'd like to pile on, this isn't my area of expertise. (My morality take, though, is that a little boob from time to time is good for parental discipline—a stern lecture with the kid every time Janet Jackson flashes the screen would create a powerful positive reinforcement against sex. Unless, of course, you don't watch TV with your kid. But then geez, spend some time with the fella!) However. However—this paragraph caught my eye:
When the commission makes the determination that a program is indecent, we typically fine the licensee that broadcast it. Although the commission has the authority to fine an artist personally, we have never done so nor do I support doing so. Over the years, fines had become trivial. A routine violation generally received a paltry $7,000 fine, with the maximum fine being $27,500.
But why not fine the artists instead of the licensee? If an artists feels that his or her indecency is worth a $7,000 fine, he or she can should be able to go through with that indecency anyways. Or raise the ante: Any indecency worth $27,500 is bound to be some high-quality indecency! Under the Powell Doctrine, meanwhile, artists don't put much thought at all into the quality (measured in economic terms) of their indecencies, and fines levied on licensees merely leads to unfortunate chilling effects.

Meanwhile, for those worried about artists not being able to afford their fines, never fear, we can always create a large, private-funded charity for the support of obscenities. Remember, originality counts. "Fuck you" won't cut it. "No-talent ass clown" is pretty good though. I'm also open to some sort of cap 'n' trade system.
-- Brad Plumer 7:00 PM || ||