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Steven Colbert (Guilty or Not Guilty?)

Okay, last Tuesday night (later than most of us stay up), Steven Colbert's monologue got a little (a little ??) explicit.  He made a certain comment about President Trump concerning his relationship with Russian leader, Putin.  So far, the FCC has received many complaints but according to their own guidelines are refusing to take any action against Colbert or CBS.

Note that the "Late Show" does not come on the airways until 11:30 PM so it falls into that zone of Adults Only (10 PM - 6 AM) when it is assumed that children are not watching.  The other problem the FCC has is defining "what constitutes Obscene, Indecent or Profane broadcasts?"

They are really stymied by the "I know it when I see it" rule because different people "know it" at different levels.  What is "obscene, indecent or profane" to one person may not be "obscene, indecent or profane" to another.  If you read the ruling below (published by the FCC), even the Supreme Court has done a lousy job of defining what "obscene" means.  Although the Supreme Court says that "obscene" content does not have the protection of the first amendment, their definition leaves a lot to be desired.  

Apparently, there is a three-prong test established by the Supreme Court for determining "obscenity"; (a) it must appeal to the average person's prurient interests, (b) depict or describe sexual conduct in a "patently offensive" way and (c) taken as a whole, lack serious literary, artistic, political or scientific value.

Seems like they've covered all their bases, right?  Wrong.  In (a) they have neglected to define what an average person is nor defined what that average person's prurient interests are and over the years, these would probably change (like our dress code for "bathing" suits).  By the way, Merriam-Webster dictionary defines "prurient" as 
marked by or arousing an immoderate or unwholesome interest or desire; especially : marked by, arousing, or appealing to sexual desire.  Hmmm.  Too many levels of research here.  Now the question becomes "what is immoderate", "what is unwholesome", "what is appealing to sexual desire" and so on and so forth.

Let's look at (b) and try to dissect it a bit.  Here's what wikipedia says:  
Patently offensive is a term used in United States law regarding obscenity and the First Amendment. The phrase "patently offensive" first appeared in Roth v. United States, referring to any obscene acts or materials that are considered to be openly, plainly, or clearly visible as offensive to the viewing public.  Sounds more like a round-robin, "What is X, well, X = Y, Then Y = X, right?  Well, maybe".  "Offensive to the viewing public" does not mean one or two viewers.  Doesn't it mean ALL the viewing public?  Well, maybe.  Pretty vague, isn't it?  Now, try to define "viewing public."

And lastly, looking at (c) "
taken as a whole, lack serious literary, artistic, political or scientific value", please define "taken as a whole", "serious" and "political value" for us, the viewing audience.  [and I used only "political value" in this case since it "political value" would involve president Trump.  Of course, there is also "literary value", "artistic value", or "scientific value" to be considered.]

And, all that just to figure out what "obscene" means.  Remember, there are two more categories; indecent and profane.  Indecent, describes, sexual activity AGAIN, and then refers right back to the three-prong test for "Obscene".  So what's the difference between "Obscene" and "Indecent?"  But at least the third category "profane" got away from sex and rule (a).  It says that it is definitely "language" and not just any language but that which is "grossly offensive" and it must be considered "a public nuisance."  But again, with the vague description.  What constitutes "grossly offensive" and what then, is "a public nuisance?"  I guess yelling "FIRE, FIRE" in a crowded theater would fit the dual definition of "profane" since it could be considered as "offensive" to the entire audience (unless you're the pyromaniac that set the fire)  and also be considered a "public nuisance."  Especially if they were there watching an "R" or "X" rated movie.  LOL  But then, what does the FCC have to do with a crowded movie theater?  Not a thing, unless someone is secretly retransmitting the movie over a radio or TV channel.

Too many years working with government contracts, sorry.  But aren't the rulings from the Supreme Contract somewhat like a contract between the government and "we, the people?"  Doesn't the government have to clearly define what it is they expect from "the viewers?"  How many people make up "the viewers?"  Is it 10?  Is it 100?  1,000?  10,000"  Maybe 1,000,000 will do.  Maybe, it's a percentage, like 51%.  Or could it simply be the people that are watching (i.e. viewing) at any given time.  Magically, the networks seem to have a way to measure that, don't they.  They're always telling us (the viewers) that a show was watched by 1 million or 1.2 million people or something like that.  I think the Supreme Court uses too many adjectives when trying to define a word or action because, then, it's left up to "we, the people" to define exactly what they were trying to say but couldn't.

As shown below, the Supreme Courts ruling on "what constitutes" these definitions was declared in 1964 by Justice Stewart Potter who declared the now-famous words, "I know it when I see it."  But as with all things, change happens.  After all, 1964 was 53 years ago.  How about an update?  Back in 1973, in Miller v. California, they tried just that.  However, it too (and Chief Justice Warren Burger), fell short by using too many adjectives and ultimately defining a word or action using "prurient", "patently", and "serious value".

So here's to Stephen Colbert for getting around the Supreme Court and their definitions of what is (or isn't) obscene.  Maybe in another 53 years, someone will come up with a clearer definition.

OMG....I just realized that "1964", which was  53 years ago, was the year that I graduated from High School !  Now, that's obscene.

"Celebration" is a song released in 1980 by Kool & the Gang from their album Celebrate!. The song encourages the listener to celebrate good times.  

"Celebration" reached No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart on February 7, 1981, and held that position for two weeks before being ousted by Dolly Parton's "9 to 5". It remains the band's only No. 1 hit.

By late 1980, the song had also reached No. 1 on both the Billboard Dance and R&B charts. The song was featured heavily on the radio throughout the year and is still heard today at weddings and parties, and is a popular anthem for sporting events. It was also an international hit, reaching No. 7 in the United Kingdom on November 29, 1980, spending 13 weeks in the chart.

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