Monday, December 06, 2004

Recent commentary: Government control?

What limits should the government put on broadcast content?

(published 6-Dec-2004, Appleton Post-Crescent)

Twenty-five years ago I was a radio "poisonality", as we called ourselves. I blurted a four-letter word once. We "cleaned up" a Rodney Dangerfield record for a contest. We also did our best to be slightly suggestive. There were no songs describing sexual acts, murdering police, or beating up one's girlfriend. Nowadays we frighten ourselves about the "dangers" of free speech to community standards, the public interest, and our children. Are Little Chute's community standards the same as in Paris where bare-breasted women appear on billboards? As Adam Thierer at the Cato Institute observed, asking the Federal Communications Commission to define the public interest is like creating a "Federal Automobile Commission" to define what cars consumers will demand next year and which companies may supply them. And we've forgotten that responsibility for protecting our children lies with our families, not the government. Broadcast media should receive the same First Amendment protections given to newspapers and magazines.

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