• On-air profanity barred by U.S. Supreme Court

    Date: 05.01.09 | by Judge Tom.

    On April 28, 2009, the United States Supreme Court* continued its effort to protect children from offensive language on television and radio. 

    Photo by Vegan Ducky (Flickr)

    The Court upheld the ban on indecent language including the word  s__t  or the F-word that are aired before 10 o’clock at  night.  The ruling covers single word violations by broadcasters as well as  repeated expletives.  Although adults have a constitutional right to indecent materials, courts have upheld the government’s authority to  keep it from children.

    The controversy over indecent language on the air  heated up in 2004 when U2 singer Bono said on live television that winning an award such as the Golden Globe was “really, really f—ing brilliant.”  Other celebrities including Cher and Nicole Richie also ran afoul of the rule in broadcast programs.  The federal law does not apply to cable content or the Internet.

    IMG_0026 by blindwithrain

    Photo by Blindwithrain (Flickr)

    *see F.C.C. v. Fox TV Stations – U.S. Supreme Court, 2009.

    What do you think about profanity during the so-called family hour?  Are you concerned about your younger brothers and sisters being exposed to offensive language?  Should there be limits set by the government or should parents decide what programs come into their home?

    Judge Tom

    This post was written by Judge Tom. Judge Tom is the founder and moderator of AsktheJudge.info. He is a retired juvenile judge and spent 23 years on the bench. He has written several books for lawyers and judges as well as teens and parents including the recently published 'Teen Cyberbullying Investigated' (Free Spirit Publishing). When he's not answering teens' questions, Judge Tom can be found hiking, traveling and reading.

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    2 Comments subscribe to these comments.

    • julie
      Wed, 13 May 2009 at 08:32

      -stimulated good discussion :)

    • Chad
      Thu, 21 May 2009 at 07:20

      Wow. This is a very bad decision.

      Children from 6th grade and up are exposed to more swear words in a day than are even IN any list of songs or interviews. School has much, much more swearing and sexual things than radio, there is no point to banning swearing from radio.

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