Barely a month after Janet Jackson's half time exposure, the House passed HR 3717, by a 391-22 margin. The bill raises the ceiling on fines for indecency from $27,500 to $500,000 to holders of broadcast licenses.
Now, who are the 22 gallant guardians of liberty who opposed increasing the regulatory power of the state? Well, back up a minute. The roll call vote lists 21 Democrats in opposition, and many of them
were angry on Wednesday that they had been denied an opportunity to offer an amendment to limit [media] consolidation.
"What are we doing about the concentration of power in the media?" Representative Henry A. Waxman, Democrat of California, asked on the floor.
I can count only two opponents of excessive regulation among the nays. The one Republican, Ron Paul, is a libertarian outcast in the party. Democrat Gary L. Ackerman of Queens is quoted in the NY Times as saying its a matter of choice: "They can change the station. They can turn it off."
The irony is, the fine applies only to those the FCC has the power to regulate: over-the-air broadcasters. When was the last time you watched NBC through rabbit ears? Ninety per cent of US households now subscribe to cable or satellite service!
Oh by the way, you can throw in the executive branch too: "This legislation," the White House said in a statement, "will make broadcast television and radio more suitable for family viewing."
The whole matter is a complete and utter farce.