Appeals court declares FCC indecency rule unconstitutional

A rubber chicken.

The FCC greatly desired to protect this from Ernie Anastos. (Photo: ThinkStock)

It began with a bizarre moment where WNYW/FOX Channel 5 New York anchorman Ernie Anastos exclaimed “Keep f—ing that chicken!” to weatherman Nick Gregory during a live news broadcast. The banter quickly became a viral sensation, and Anastos drew the ire of the FCC and its indecency rule. Family groups rallied alongside the FCC against the FOX affiliate. Now months later, something has occurred that some may consider poetic justice against an arbitrary, puritanical agency, while others will find the outcome perhaps even more bizarre than the initial incident itself. According to the New York Daily News, the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that the FCC’s indecency rule is unconstitutional because it is “impermissibly vague.”

The FCC indecency rule: Protecting fragile minds

Considering the vast destructive power of innocuous television programs – a power that obviously trumps any efforts at parental guidance – the FCC indecency rule was obviously the right set of blinders at the right time. Dan Isepp of the Parents Television Council told the Daily News that he equates the court ruling with saying it’s OK to include cursing on TV, particularly during children’s programming. FCC Commissioner Michael Copps anticipates a Pandora’s Box effect. One imagines a scenario where a child or impressionable adult within hearing range of a tainted broadcast TV show is immediately possessed by the spirit of the Greek Furies and flies into a murderous blood rage. Or something equally unpleasant. Such is the awesome, dark power of cussing.

But nothing will change for 45 days

That’s how long the FCC has to appeal. The Supreme Court may still get involved in the indecency rule case, which should be interesting to see. If the appeals court decision stands, broadcasters will no longer be fined for using foul language on air. George Carlin’s famous “Seven Words You Can Never Say on Television” could conceivably see the light of day, and possibly seize your mind. The FCC will no doubt try everything it can to seize it back.


New York Daily News

2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling

Ernie Anastos’s apology, in case you were offended:

And a special shout-out to Mr. Anastos (punch line at :30):

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