by Rob Kall
The Republican dominated, christian right controlled congress has massively increased the fines for indecent use of the airwaves. The FCC has begun a witch-hunt that is clearly driven by the Bush administration's obesiance to fundamentalist right wing Christians who insist upon forcing their morals down the rest of the nation's throat.
Clear channel has already been fined for hosting Howard Stern's show and Stern, the most popular DJ in the US, now believes he is on the verge of being thrown off the air altogether.
This is a symptom of the 2004 presidential elections. Like Bush's divisive, no-chance-to-succeed anti gay marriage Amendment proposal, this assault on freedom of speech is another example of this failed president's pandering to his strongest constituency.
How can a show that is the most popular in the country be shut off because of a minority group that wants to control the way others think and act?
It's simple. We have a president who caves in, who sells out the nation's interests, the people's interests whenever he is pressured by groups that he is owing to. A leader of strong character would stand strong against such demands. But Bush embraces these opportunities, like a prostitute with her john. The result is horrific-- an FCC with the power to intimidate any media entity. These businesses; Clear Channel, Infinity Broadcasting, Viacom, are spineless corporate entities which care about making money, and nothing about free speech or human rights.
"The indecency feeding frenzy in Washington, D.C., is merely election-year posturing, a blatant appeal to 'family values' at the expense of freedom of expression," says Bill Lee, a professor in UGA's Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication and an expert in communication law.
The 20,000 member Public Relations Society of America wrote to Michael Powell, asking him to rescind its request for authority to increase tenfold the fines the commission could levy on broadcast entities the Commission deems to have violated nonspecific guidelines on obscenity and indecency, saying that "Increased FCC Fines without Clear Guidelines Endangers Free Expression."
Howard Stern says this is another assault in the culture war. A former Bush supporter, here's what he says now, according to a report in Salon, ""'I might be taken off all the stations very soon, and my last words to you are G.W.B.,' Stern told listeners... "'Get him out of office. I'm tellin' you, man, he's in dangerous territory [with] a religious agenda and you gotta vote him out -- anyone but Bush,' Stern railed."
Last year there was a huge outpouring of response to the FCC's decision to allow the shrinking of media diversity. Now, as the media is controlled by fewer and fewer organizations, we are seeing it intimidated and censored by an FCC controlled by a fundamentalist controlled administration.
According to FCC chair Michael Powell, inn December the FCC "more than two dozen cases in the final stage of investigation," which they anticipated acting on in the next few months.
Proposals are ready to go in Congress to drastically increase fines for "indecency." And there's a three strikes and you're out clause, so, if a company has three "indecencies" counted against it, its license to broadcast can be taken away. These kinds of threats will cast a pall on free speech that, added to the abuses of the patriot act, could take the US some serious steps further away from being the democracy most of the world and US citizens considered it to be.
This is a process of steady erosion. Each step, by itself, may seem annoying, or unpleasant, but tolerable. Combined together they add up to an assault on our freedoms that is both deliberate, treacherous and profoundly dangerous. It is time the tables be turned.
Rob Kall firstname.lastname@example.org is editor/founder of OpEdNews.com, president of Futurehealth, Inc. and organizer of the Futurehealth Winter Brain, Optimal Functioning and StoryCon Meeting. This article is copyright Rob Kall and originally published by opednews.com but permission is granted for reprint in print, email, blog or web media so long as this credit paragraph is attached. Over 85 other articles by Rob Kall