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FCC to Fine Curses More Than Nuke Violations 634

DiZNoG writes "With Congress debating new higher fines for broadcast indecency in the wake of last year's 'wardrobe malfunction' and Howard Stern's antics, Rolling Stone has published an interesting perspective on things. Rolling Stone did a review of fines levied by other federal regulatory bodies, and has found the new indecency fines disproportionately large compared to other fines. According to the article, if the bill passes then 'for the price of Janet Jackson's 'wardrobe malfunction' during the Super Bowl, you could cause the wrongful death of an elderly patient in a nursing home and still have enough money left to create dangerous mishaps at two nuclear reactors.' The article further states the largest fine the Nuclear Regulatory Commission levied last year was $60,000, this new bill would allow broadcast indecency fines up to $500,000. Glad I keep my broadcast cursing to a minimum, now if I could only get a handle on those pesky dangerous nuclear mishaps."
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FCC to Fine Curses More Than Nuke Violations

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  • by DrunkenTerror ( 561616 ) on Saturday February 26, 2005 @09:28AM (#11786641) Homepage Journal
    • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 26, 2005 @09:30AM (#11786654)
      Keep it up, I can feel the budget deficit shrinking as you speak.
    • Re:Useful Terms (Score:4, Informative)

      by miskatonic alumnus ( 668722 ) on Saturday February 26, 2005 @09:30AM (#11786655)
      You left out tits.
    • by Tjoppen ( 831002 ) on Saturday February 26, 2005 @09:35AM (#11786683)
      You left out Barbara Streisand
    • Re:Useful Terms (Score:2, Informative)

      by Lisandro ( 799651 )
      Warning! You're gonna make it to the Profanity blacklist! []. BOOOOO!
    • by TheRaven64 ( 641858 ) on Saturday February 26, 2005 @10:15AM (#11786912) Journal
    • by wfberg ( 24378 ) on Saturday February 26, 2005 @11:12AM (#11787281)
      Let's work on some alternatives here..

      I suggest fist to replace fuck. As in fist you, motherfister.. That immediately sounds a lot nicer.

      Also, perhaps to replace piss, if it's used as a derogatory term (since there's already a perfectly good word for piss; urine), I'd suggest come, or cum as it's known online.

      The phrase, this place smells like two-week old come would surely please the FCC immensly, as it contains not a single dirty word.

      Now, for cunt one might describe the actual organ as vagina, or perhaps, on Oprah, as beafcurtain covered meathole, but I understand it's ofted used to refer to a person, as in "he's a cunt". Luckily, dickhead isn't on the list, otherwise what would one call Mr.Cheney's face for example?

      "cocksucker" is a bit of a mystery to me. Neither word the composite is made up of is particularly naughty in its own right. While applicant of low pressure to a rooster might be an odd jobdescription, who knows if these people exist, and how much pride they might take in their work? Surely people working at the fudgepacking plant have similar feelings. Perhaps cumbucket would be an alternative with enough street-cred to supplant it some day.

      As for tits, that just doesn't make sense. In particular, The Royal Tit-Watching (ornithological) Society [] (SFW) would take serious issue with not being able to discuss the objects of their fascination. Besides "look at the tits on her" is a term of admiration. I'd suggest we go with funbags on this one, since it would, hopefully, infuriate rabid feminists and/or puritans even more if breasts, which are actually pretty mundane things - almost all women and overweight men have them - are consistently referred to explicitely as sexual objects.

      So there you have it, folks. Now leave me the fist alone, you're fudgepacking cumbuckets the lot of you!
      • Gore Vidal was working on his surrealistic follow-up to Myra Breckinridge when the US Supreme Court ruled that 'communities could set local standards' for naughty words. Since the same book would be on sale everywhere, this presented a problem of being exposed to legal action on the whim of any local prosecutor.

        He approached this problem by substituing the names of the Supreme Court judges for the naughty words. Burger, Rehnquist, Powell, Whizzer White and Blackmun became nouns and verbs for, well, yo
    • Re:Useful Terms (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Xyrus ( 755017 )
      I love this country.

      Show a tit on TV and get fined. Say shit on the radio and get fined.

      But send thousands of 18 year old kids to foriegn country to die horrible deaths for lie, and the fucking country relects you for president.

      Morality my ass. This is just fucking stupid.

  • Nothing new (Score:2, Interesting)

    by mordors9 ( 665662 )
    I have always thought most of the sentences handed down for drug crimes are completely out of whack as well. People convicted of marijuana possession seem to get more time than ones convicted of, what seems to me anyway, far more serious crimes. So why should fines being handed down by two separate departments make much sense when compared.
  • Wrong dept. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by game kid ( 805301 ) on Saturday February 26, 2005 @09:33AM (#11786670) Homepage

    from the punishment-fits-the-crime dept.

    You mean the punishment-fits-the-bra dept.? I think this says a lot, though, about the hypocrisy of our country--we bomb others who have nukes, we punish nuclear gaffes for a lot, but we allow violence over sex and must punish boob-revelations and the like for 4* as much? *sigh*...I apologize, I just still don't get it.

    • Re:Wrong dept. (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Citizen of Earth ( 569446 ) on Saturday February 26, 2005 @11:45AM (#11787498)
      but we allow violence over sex and must punish boob-revelations and the like for 4* as much? *sigh*...I apologize, I just still don't get it.

      It's the new Bible-thumper version of Political Correctness. It's just as senseless, counterproductive, hypocrical and self-destructive as the old lefty version, but it's an all-new flavor!
    • Re:Wrong dept. (Score:3, Insightful)

      by jc42 ( 318812 )
      ... we bomb others who have nukes ...

      Hey, what country do you live in? I'm here in the US, which only bombs countries that don't have nukes.

      Has any government ever attacked another that has nukes? Terrorists have, of course, but nuclear weapons do seem to be a good deterrent against other governments.

      Granted, the sample size isn't all that large. And the US did bomb a Chinese embassy a few years ago.
  • Benjamins (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Malicious ( 567158 ) on Saturday February 26, 2005 @09:34AM (#11786675)
    The entertainment industry brings in far more capital than a powerstation does.
    This is just an example of proportionate fines. Like charging a person for speeding based on their income. Why should someone not fear the penalty if they can easily afford the fine? I see no problem with this practice.
    • by Tjoppen ( 831002 ) on Saturday February 26, 2005 @09:37AM (#11786696)
      Well, a wardrobe malfunction won't cause the death of a few thousand souls for starters..

      "Oh no, a naked breast! Run for your lives!"
    • You're joking, right? I don't think our country can easily afford to have our own special Chernobyl.

      Safety issues should be part of doing business for a nuclear powerplant. If a power station can't compete with other energy sources and maintain safety, perhaps they shouldn't be doing business at all.
      • ?? We haven't had any Chernobyl. We have, on the other hand, had a lot of violations of FCC standards. Nobody wants a nuclear disaster. But certain people do want to hype their career, and Janet Jackson, for instance, clearly came out ahead by doing her little stunt.

        Maybe there shouldn't be a financial fine for FCC violations at all, but rather the people in question would be suspended from the public airwaves for a year. Now *that* might directly address these publicity seekers.

        • It's about risk (Score:5, Insightful)

          by PIPBoy3000 ( 619296 ) on Saturday February 26, 2005 @09:59AM (#11786834)
          I think for me, it's about risk. The risk of my heart going into defib due to looking at Janet Jackson's nipples is pretty small. The risk of a nuclear accident causing death, cancer, and birth defects is somewhere above that.

          I also tend to feel that just because something didn't happen yet doesn't mean it's not going to happen in the future.

          Finally, I'm not anti-nuclear power by any means. France has done a great job keeping it clean and safe over the years. I also feel that the cost of coal and oil powerplants don't reflect their true cost in pollution, deaths from respiratory disease, and contribution to global climate change.
    • Re:Benjamins (Score:5, Insightful)

      by TVC15 ( 518429 ) on Saturday February 26, 2005 @09:48AM (#11786774)
      We don't give rich parking violators bigger tickets than poorer ones. Why should we give an industry which makes more money than another a bigger fine for something which is less dangerous? Unless the argument is that swear words and breasts on TV are more damaging than a nuclear accident?
    • by tentimestwenty ( 693290 ) on Saturday February 26, 2005 @09:49AM (#11786777)
      Fines are a deterrent to bad behaviour. Sure, the "average" nuclear accident might be small and non-lethal, but if the fines aren't large, there's no incentive to keep standards high to prevent a huge accident. If a bad nuclear accident was to happen, the total cost on the environment and human lives would be far greater than what one TV or Radio show was worth or could affect.
    • Re:Benjamins (Score:5, Insightful)

      by goon america ( 536413 ) on Saturday February 26, 2005 @11:51AM (#11787535) Homepage Journal
      The entertainment industry brings in far more capital than a powerstation does. This is just an example of proportionate fines.

      Howard Stern != the entertainment industry.

      Howard Stern got fined $495,000, and the Three Mile Island plant was fined $155,000, according to this post []. Howard Stern doesn't make as much as a powerstation, I'm pretty sure. The whole entertainment industry wasn't fined, just him.

      Needless to say (I thought), while the entertainment industry may make more than one power plant, the energy industry makes an order of magnitude or two more than the entertainment industry, if you want to compare apples to apples...
    • Re:Benjamins (Score:4, Insightful)

      by xoboots ( 683791 ) on Saturday February 26, 2005 @03:26PM (#11788874) Journal
      "The entertainment industry brings in far more capital than a powerstation does."

      Are you on drugs? First, comparing the entire entertainment industry to a single powerstation is ingenuine. Secondly, the power industry dwarfs the entertainment industry. Your entire argument is misleading and faulty.
  • Nothing really new. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by miskatonic alumnus ( 668722 ) on Saturday February 26, 2005 @09:36AM (#11786688)
    Playboy magazine had an article some years back during the war on drugs (boy, I'm glad we killed all those drugs and only have partially nude pop stars and terrorists to deal with) comparing typical prison sentences for murder and rape vs. selling LSD to an undercover cop. Guess who the government thinks is more dangerous --- as measured by length of time served?
    • You think that's bad? Get this: A guy in Oregon Jeff "Free" Luers" [] got 23 years in jail for setting 3 SUV's on fire. I guess protecting cars can get a higher priority than protecting women from rape or murder. His case is not that well known, although there are a few websites [] about it.
      • by TheLink ( 130905 ) on Saturday February 26, 2005 @11:13AM (#11787291) Journal
        That's so screwed up.

        Even if it was my car I'd settle for a _new_ car + damages + pay for my transport costs (till I get the car), in lieu of jail for him. If I really was pissed off - car had sentimental value etc. I'd just be happy with a max 1 year jail time (coz jail time often means a bigger mark in your record).

        I don't see how it benefits anyone to send him to jail for 22 years 8 months. Even the min 7 years is rather long.

        If you set fire to 3 people, to me that'll be really different. But 3 SUVs?

        While random damage to property should be discouraged, I think the judge is doing a lot more damage than Jeff did to the SUVs and the owners.

        If the judge can't tell the difference between the seriousness of damaging cars and directly damaging people, I think the judge should be put in prison to keep the public safe from him.
      • His sentence is probably that long because arson in general has heavy penalties. Those penalties are in force because many times arson results in deaths of firefighters and/or innocent victims caught in the fire.

        If he wanted to destroy some SUVs, he would have been smarter to use a method that didn't involve fire.

    • by bizpile ( 758055 ) * on Saturday February 26, 2005 @10:33AM (#11787031) Homepage
      Playboy magazine had an article some years...

      You mean you actually read the articles?
      • to be honest (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Nf1nk ( 443791 )
        Playboy has articles written by some fantastic writers, and of course fantastic naked women. I have oftenthought that Playboy should market a second magazine with the same articles, but without the distracting images, that make reading it in public something of an impossibility these days.
  • by sdo1 ( 213835 ) on Saturday February 26, 2005 @09:36AM (#11786691) Journal
    What exactly do you expect when the religious right [] gets the current administration re-elected.

    The best thing WE can do is to contact the FCC [] and let them know that we disagree (yes, use the American Family Association's website against them). The bulk of the feedback they get tells them that showing a naked breast on TV or speaking a certain word is the most horrific thing that could happen to the populus.


    • by DAldredge ( 2353 ) <SlashdotEmail@GMail.Com> on Saturday February 26, 2005 @09:45AM (#11786750) Journal
      One of the people on the FCC who keeps pushing for these fines is a Democrat. Not that the facts matter in your little rant as you forget all the laws that Liberman has supported. It is much easier to just blame one side, when both are guilty I mean we can't hold OUR SIDE to the same rules as the BAD GUYS, now can we?
      • oh, please (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Scudsucker ( 17617 )
        It is much easier to just blame one side

        Yes, it is. There's Liberman and the guy on the FCC. How many other Democrats can you name that are luddites? Here's some Republicans I can name off the top of my head: Powell, Santorum, Fallwell, Bennett, Hatch, Coburn. Want to take any bets on the political affiliation of groups like the Parents Television Council? Next I suppose you'll imply that Democrats are as much to blame for the gay marriage hysteria because there are a couple of Democrats who supporte
    • by BlueCodeWarrior ( 638065 ) <> on Saturday February 26, 2005 @09:51AM (#11786785) Homepage
      Michael K. Powell is Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission. Chairman Powell was nominated by President William J. Clinton to a Republican seat on the Commission, and was sworn in on November 3, 1997. He was designated chairman by President George W. Bush on January 22, 2001. phy.html []

      Don't be so quick to blame things on those who oppose your views.
      • True, but the FCC is actually a part of the Executive Branch and is therefore ultimately responsible to Bush and his staff. I'm sure Powell knows which way the wind blows.

        The problem isn't soley Bush nor is soley Powell. They're just lightning rods because they're easily identifiable. The problem is the whole puritanical attitude of the entire administration. While Bush has real power, in many cases he's also a figure head because one doesn't get elected President of the United States by himself; it's a ma

      • by legirons ( 809082 ) on Saturday February 26, 2005 @10:51AM (#11787152)
        "Chairman Powell was nominated by President William J. Clinton to a Republican seat on the Commission"

        Slashdot rule #13: if the government does anything bad, make it degenerate into a republican/democrat mudslinging match.

        It the same government folks, no matter which figurehead is trying to run it this year.
  • Perhaps... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by damian cosmas ( 853143 ) on Saturday February 26, 2005 @09:38AM (#11786701)
    ...this is an indication that those responsible for nuclear reactors have their act together to a greater extent than the media.
  • Congress makes the law and determines the possible min and max fines for various violations. Congress decides what a maximum fine for a nuke violation will be and what a maximum fine for a indecency violation will be. In many cases, the fine levels were set decades ago and have not been updated.

    The regulatory body (like FCC or NRC) simply looks at the particular instance of violation and decides where it falls in the spectrum set by Congress.

    So if you have a beef with how Congress decides to make a law,
  • Maybe the American government should stop trying to solve problems through money. AOL-Time-Warner or whoever can easily afford $500,000, just the same as they can afford $500. It doesn't affect them, they'll find a way to make up the losses from share holders.
  • Fines.... (Score:5, Funny)

    by thewiz ( 24994 ) * on Saturday February 26, 2005 @09:42AM (#11786726)
    Showing a breast on national TV... $500,000
    Killing an elderly person...$100,000
    Screwing up at a nuclear power plant...$60,000
    Running a red light...$250.00
    Getting your story posted to Slashdot...Priceless
  • by errxn ( 108621 )
    There's a nice unbiased source of information if I've ever seen one <coughs>. If we're going to start using sources like this, shouldn't these topics be on politics./.org?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 26, 2005 @09:43AM (#11786732)
    ... they'd be fucking loaded, a single 30 minute show would net them about $20m, the fines would soon equate to the combined GDP of all the third-world nations combined. US guests are sometimes amazed with what's being said, Jonathan Ross seems to faze them most... imagine Stern doing the Letterman at 8pm primetime on the biggest network... saying whatever he fucking likes and without no bloody adverts!

    I thought it odd that Radio 1 [] now says during certain shows "this show contains strong language, if you easily offended please turn off your radio, if NOT please turn it up!"... now that's unreasonable, they just to do all that without warning or apology before, it's a bloody outrage... cunts.
    • Yes indeed... (Score:3, Interesting)

      I've always found it hilarious what they actually *beep* out of a British TV show... They can curse all they want, but they can't say: "Oh my G*beep*"
      What's in the 'G' word that's so offensive?
      • Re:Yes indeed... (Score:3, Informative)

        by philkerr ( 180450 )
        I think you are mistaken when it comes to bleeping this word, I've never seen this done and I'm British.

        For non-US citizens we are somewhat shocked that a country that prides itself on free-speech can allow its television to be so watered down.

        What the parent says about beeping is generally true, before 9:00pm all swear words on UK telly are beeped out, often with the mouth pixelated, but afterwards virtually anything goes.

        For US TV virtually any form of gun-related violence is fine, but utter one swear
  • by idiotnot ( 302133 ) <> on Saturday February 26, 2005 @09:44AM (#11786744) Homepage Journal
    Much as I loathe some of the stupid things the FCC does, and makes broadcasters do, they're not the ones to blame here.

    Congress is pushing the stepped-up enforcement.
    Congress is responsible for the raise in fines.

    If you've got a problem with this, write your two senators, and representative.

    Furthermore, there is one group [] who are responsible for 99.9% of the FCC indecency complaints. Perhaps there's a problem not with the government, but with some ninnies who have nothing better to do than worry about what people are watching on TV, or listening to on the radio.

    (Yes, I am a broadcaster, no I'm not speaking on behalf of my employer, yadda, yadda, yadda).
  • After all, you can for copyright infrigement and redistribution (aka, copying bits and bytes when not authorised) get a stiffer penalty and prison stay than , say, when doing a rape or killing somebody.
  • by Skiron ( 735617 )
    In the UK the price of a human life is about 5 years in prison, maybe let off to 3 years with good behaviour. But rob a bank (i.e. go against the state) you will be looking at a minimum of 25 years in prison.
  • by nurb432 ( 527695 ) on Saturday February 26, 2005 @09:49AM (#11786780) Homepage Journal
    Same sort of story there.. You get less time if you actually commit a crime and steal a cd then if you commit a copyright violation and copy the same thing.

    Its all about who has more money..
  • by kekeruusperi ( 771725 ) on Saturday February 26, 2005 @09:51AM (#11786787)
    I wonder how much it would cost to broadcast Eric Idle's FCC Song [] after this...
  • by buckhead_buddy ( 186384 ) on Saturday February 26, 2005 @09:59AM (#11786833)
    The use of curses has always been a freedom taken for granted by most geeks on Unix systems. Next thing you know they'll be going after CUPS as well.

    Oh! You mean those #*&@%ing curses. Well, I better look out when the feds start spying on my WiFi network :-)

  • This is just part of the general corruption of the U.S. government.

    From the article: Free expression and First Amendment rights are the real target of this legislation," declared Rep. Bernie Sanders (Ind-Vt.) during the debate over the bill. "This is not what America is about."

    A better description is that the real target is anyone who might say things that are not accepted by those who control the government.

    Also, large fines for using negative words gets votes from those who think they are superior because of their religion. Such people and their anger are easily manipulated.

    The government is being sold to anyone who has the money. Huge amounts of money are being borrowed and transferred to the pockets of those in power. The U.S. government is now far more in debt than ever before: Debt Clock []. If you are a U.S. citizen, you are expected to pay. Those who want corruption in the U.S. government [] want the government to borrow. The corrupters find ways to transfer the money to their pockets.

    The origin of the present problems was in the 40s and 50s, when U.S. government leaders made two decisions. It is likely that those in power then did not understand that their decisions would eventually corrupt the entire government. At the time, the decisions seemed logical.

    First, the government decided that it could act in other countries in secret. Second, the U.S. government decided it could act in secret to protect U.S. businesses in other countries.

    What probably no one realized then was how much that would come to be a corrupting influence on the government. Probably no one realized then how much additional profit big multinational businesses could make by arranging, in secret, for U.S. taxpayers to pay for the security arrangements needed by U.S. multinational businesses.

    Soon huge businesses were arguing that the U.S. government should subvert democratically elected leaders, as the government did in Iran in the 70s. Soon U.S. businesses would arrange unfair contracts with corrupt leaders, and when there was a protest, call for U.S. government intervention in the name of patriotism.

    That's partly how we got to the present situation, where two men, whose family and business associates and friends have extensive investments in global oil businesses, are president and vice-president of the entire U.S. government, even though there is conflict of interest in such an arrangement.
  • by Handbrewer ( 817519 ) on Saturday February 26, 2005 @10:44AM (#11787106) Homepage
    Ah, America - Home of the puritans.

    In Denmark we can say anything we want on TV, and we do - i hear the word 'fuck' & 'shit' daily when i watch 'Boogie' a music show for young ppl that runs around 4-6pm. Primettime for the kids to learn new words :).

    And travelling around europe, this is how it works most places, maybe perhaps with the exception of Germany (i wouldent have understood it if they used profanity anyways)

    I thought puritans died out with the last victorians - but they just sailed to America it seems, heh.

    But seriously, cant you sue the FCC for violating the freedom of speech? It would seem obvious that they are enforcing censorship.
  • swearing... (Score:3, Funny)

    by tuxette ( 731067 ) * <{moc.liamg} {ta} {ettexut}> on Saturday February 26, 2005 @12:39PM (#11787826) Homepage Journal
    Am I safe to assume that this only applies to English-language swearwords? After all, there are plenty of curses in plenty of languages [], and the FCC would be none the wiser...or...?
  • Grow Up Slashdot! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 26, 2005 @02:01PM (#11788312)
    Sure, when compared on the basis of public harm, the FCC's fines look silly next to the the NRC's finger waggling efforts that were hard coded into what, 1950's dollars? Why all the focus on FCC anyway? Does anyone really enjoy most of the garbage offered as entertainment?

    Fines for "indecency," raise 'em! Provide incentive to develop meangingful programming... Socially valuable content renders expletives useless, and if you like p(.)rn there's no shortage. Educational content and thoughtful social commentary doesn't usually appeal to stupid consumers? Good.

    Focus on governmental agency tactics for a minute. Fines are the poor man's control "schtick." Seems like it should work, but it's past facto and even the death penalty doesn't serve as a deterrent for those who can't see past their hormones or the next 5 minutes.

    That having been said, negative incentives work best when they are levied upon the correct individuals and proportionate to the wealth of the violator. See that happening anywhere? In the U.S., we don't fine the shareholders. Without that ability NRC's fines would be little more than token bones to public perception because they would be passed through to consumers as a price increase.

    (Witness the multiplier effect of an increase in the cost of energy. Cost of consumption is going up people! Of course if you are heavily diversifled enough you don't take the hit.)

    The only reasonable way to get at the problems of nuclear power, without a revolution, is to make clean alternatives financially viable while requiring enforcement of health, safety and environmental law.

    IN the mean time focusing on such trivial conversation, just like network programming does, you serve only to deflect focus from more important issues.

    Grow Up Slashdot
  • by mabu ( 178417 ) on Saturday February 26, 2005 @02:40PM (#11788587)
    A lot of this ironically, has to do with one organization with an exaggerated membership, that peddles smut on their own web site [] that systemmatically harasses the FCC over these issues. The goofy, right wing, Parents Television Council, whose leadership seem to primarily sit around all day and watch/document every sleazy media moment they can get their sweaty eyeballs on.

You mean you didn't *know* she was off making lots of little phone companies?