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February 10, 2012
By Wes Burns , Times-Republican

Have you ever had an argument that lasted longer than a decade?

Not like a war or philosophical schism, not something important like whether you eat your toast butter side up or down.

(Those butter side down toast people are just wrong, by the way. All the butter is going to drip off the toast! And you call this a national ethos?)

Imagine arguing about something since the mid-90s, something so ridiculous that of course it draws every professionally outraged talking head in the insaneosphere out of their collective hole to spout loud mouthed nonsense under whatever ridiculous banner they happen to be waving that day.

Our most esteemed colleagues at the Supreme Court are going to spend the better part of six months arguing about whether or not naked people can say bad words on TV.

The same bench that gave us the legalization of bribery in the Citizen's United case is now aiming its analytical gaze at this most important of issues.

According to a lawsuit that might as well be titled "TV v. The Government" the combined networks of TV, a motley crew running the gamut from FOX to CBS, have been arguing since being sued over an episode of "NYPD?Blue" that they should be allowed to show adult content, or more importantly that the government should not be allowed to fine them if they do.

The government, most notably the FCC, has said that they are well within their rights because they own the airwaves and therefore have a right as to what type of content they are used to deliver.

So TV wants to show adult stuff and the Government wants to show ... what, exactly?

According to the FCC the case isn't about curtailing the expression of TV producers, but rather is about creating a safe haven for milder programming.

And nothing says mild programming like one more dismembered corpse on "CSI". Gather round children and watch as a family is brutally murdered in front of your very eyes; don't worry, no one is saying the S-word.

So, the FCC thinks murder is fine and dandy, so long as its on TV and not in a video game. But cursing is never, EVER right?

Well, unless you're Steven Spielberg.

Big Steve (we're good friends, but we haven't spoken since the Indiana Jones debacle) can make a movie filled with violence and cursing like, say, "Saving Private Ryan" and that movie can be shown on network TV unedited.

Well, it DID come with a 'viewer discretion advised' warning, so its OK.

And the nudity argument makes even less sense; particularly when you point out that nude STATUES are technically in violation of the FCC. Nude statues like the one that is in the Supreme Court's chamber. Just saying.

How will this effect cable TV, home of the gator hunting show marathon? It won't, because this case only deals with TV that is broadcast over the airwaves.

Yeah, this case is pretty much arguing about what the last vestige of wireless TV can show during a brief window of time in the evening. Way to go tax dollars!

Worried about your kids? Maybe you should worry about how your kids were plunked in front of the TV without regard to what they will be watching? Maybe you should go check their web browser history first.

Now, as an unabashed fan of all things television it pains me to say it, but there is always a thermonuclear option for those SO OFFENDED at the foul language of network TV (yet have no problem with the ultra violence) that they are beside their doilies with rage: turn the thing off.

The rest of us will be enjoying some quality television programming; via the internet, like a regular person.


Copy Editor Wes Burns is a Friday columnist. The views expressed in this column are personal views of the writer and don't necessarily reflect the views of the T-R. Contact Wes Burns at 641-753-6611 or



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