Call it the whoopee cushion doctrine. It is hard to believe that the government now regards flatulence jokes, the lamest staple of gag gift stores, as grounds for taking away a broadcast license. But since Janet Jackson’s unfortunate wardrobe malfunction, the F.C.C. has been furiously rewriting the rules. Another edict holds that broadcasters can lose their licenses even for “isolated or fleeting” swear words, a doctrine arising from a single gerund uttered at the 2003 Golden Globes.
Don’t bother calling the commissioners philistines — they do it themselves. In the Golden Globe ruling, they admit their definition could put D. H. Lawrence and James Joyce off limits. Not surprisingly, though, the F.C.C. has started with Mr. Stern.
… The F.C.C. is using his unpopularity as cover for a whole new approach that throws out decades of free-speech law. The talk right now is over the colorful battles between Mr. Stern and Michael Powell, the head of the F.C.C. But when the headlines fade, the censorious new regime will apply to everyone. The danger it poses to the culture is real.
Read the whole Op-Ed article by Adam Cohen, it is very disturbing.