The FCC and Fairness

FCC Chairman Dennis Patrick’s self-serving defense of his agency’s policies concerning the Fairness Doctrine and obscenity managed to plumb new depths of double talk (Saturday Letters, Dec. 12). Ironically, and I’m sure unwittingly, Patrick reinforces rather than refutes Howard Rosenberg’s trenchant observations about the FCC’s hypocrisy.

It is true, as Patrick says, that “the First Amendment does not guarantee us a fair press--only a free press, relying upon the people to discern truth from conflicting perspectives (even unfair ones).”

But I enjoy exactly the same right when it comes to “indecency” or “obscenity.” Nowhere in the Constitution does it say that only political speech is protected, nor is there any legislation or case law which clearly defines what is “indecent” or “obscene.”

I don’t consider a naked body obscene, but the gratuitous murder that is the basis of much of our television programming, in my view, is. I don’t consider as obscene four-letter words, or language describing biological functions.


What is obscene to me is the sight of the President of the United States standing before a television camera and lying to the American people. What is obscene to me is a crypto-fascist lieutenant colonel lecturing the Congress about “democracy” while he is doing everything in his power to subvert it here and abroad. What is obscene to me is news footage of massacres in Haiti, Chile, Panama, El Salvador and elsewhere to support dubious American foreign policy. . . . In my opinion Elliott Abrams is obscene, as are the political rantings of Pat Buchanan.

Yet all these obscenities invade my home on a daily basis with the protection of the First Amendment, and I would have it no other way.

Patrick’s argument is specious at best, revealing not only his ignorance of the Constitution and the law but, more significantly, the thinly veiled right-wing political agenda of the FCC.



Van Nuys