The Broadcast Indecency Act of 2004
(also known as the Broadcast Decency Enforcement Act) was a bill
put before the second session of The 108th United States Congress
of the United States of America
on January 21st, 2004
. Supported by over a score of congresspeople initially, including the widow of Sonny Bono
, Senator Joe Barton
of Texas, and others, it passed the House of Representatives
on March 11th, 2004
by an overwhelming margin of votes. Though it went through amendment
s and revision
s, the final bill was still relatively intact by the time it made its way to the Senate. It would have to be passed by a majority of the Senate in order to make the bill law
The purpose of this bill was, "A bill to increase the penalties for violations by television and radio broadcasters of the prohibitions against transmission of obscene, indecent, and profane material, and for other purposes."
This is an affront
to the First Amendment
of The Constitution of the United States of America
, which protects free speech
for all Americans. It's also one of the most vague and irredeemable bills ever not thoroughly and properly read by members of congress. Definitions for the words "obscene" and "indecent" are vague at best even in legalese
and the use of the phrase "for other purposes" is laughably unacceptable.
This bill reinforces the idea that the use of certain words and phrases in a public broadcast are required censored by corporate interests. If said corporate interests are unsuccessful
, the owners of said corporate interest as well as the utterer of said words or phrases would be fined as much as five hundred thousand dollars per offense
. Other penalties include license revocation, cessation of the offending programming, and other "additional remedies." Furthermore, the act requires the alleged verbally assaulting party(ies) involved to perform and broadcast PSA
s that serve "educational and informational needs of children"
as deemed suitable by the government and corporate interests doing the censoring. This means not only are there things that certain firms will not allow people to say, but that there are going to be certain things that firms will be required to say in replacement of alleged indecency. George Orwell
would have called this "double plus good"
speak to counterbalance the "double plus ungood."
Now, on the surface this idea may sound of benefit to some, because of a disbelief that it will protect children. There has been nor will there be any conclusive evidence to support the idea that four letter words cause any harm to young minds. Recent investigations have shown evidence
that despite attempts to protect young people from nasty words and images, a large percentage of children
today learn these words and their usage. In most cases, from their own parents
and other neighborhood elders. It takes a village to raise a child
. There's no proof that such knowledge corrupts them. This is not a matter of indecency, but impropriety
This sort of restricted speech does not and will not cease with the utterance of such colorful expletitives as shit
. This legislation, if properly enforced, would allow a government
entity to pick and choose which individuals and firms are actively pursued and which are not. So a firm or person who questioned authority and used profanity might be actively persued, while another firm or person who "accidently" committed a similar utterance but supported the government would not be persued. It would easily be argued away that there are simply not enough resources to objectively enforce every single potential offense, but that some will be held accountable as examples to the rest. Also, because the subjectivity
of indecency differs from one community
to another and even from one offense or situation to another, it is patently impossible to enforce this legislation with any resemblance of justice
. In fact, it may not even hold up in court if it ever gets that far. Despite this, those pushing this attempt to turn the use of profanity into a victimless crime will eventually lead all of us to communicate with letters
as opposed to actual words.
In a nutshell, this is bullshit