There’s a lot of Values Talk in America right now. From Janet Jackson’s nipple accoutrements to gay marriage to John Kerry’s decision to put on cammo pants and walk in a field, Values Talk has dominated much of the political and cultural bandwidth in 2004.
This has extended to the area of decency standards in the media, with much talk about the supposed revulsion toward the sexual content of film, television, and radio programs (not much talk about violence, however; that seems to be a-okay in the modern USA). Indeed, the FCC, along with the help of those like conservative Senator Samuel Brownback (R-KS), has pledged to crack down on decency standards violators. Howard Stern was particularly targeted, which finally prompted the self-proclaimed King of All Media to announce that he is jumping ship from the public radio airwaves to the relatively new entity of subscription-based (and FCC regulation-free) satellite radio.
FCC investigations, which may and can lead to stiff fines of $500,000 per offense, are prompted by complaints filed by the public. Generally, incidents that prompt many complaints, such as Jackson’s incident at the Super Bowl, are considered noteworthy.
But who is filing these charges? According to Mediaweek, the FCC now admits that over the last few years, upwards of 99.8% of complaints to the FCC were filed by one activist organization: the Parents Television Council.
Are we letting Values Talk get out of hand in the United States? Are we letting special interests, Sen. Brownback, and the FCC co-opt our rights to free expression, guaranteed by the 1st Amendment?
What about those values?