Two top U.S. Republican lawmakers on Tuesday said they want to apply broadcast decency standards to cable television and satellite television and radio to protect children from explicit content.
Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Ted Stevens said he would push legislation this year to accomplish that goal and House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Joe Barton said he would back it if it does not violate free speech rights.
“Cable is a much greater violator in the indecency area,” Stevens, from Alaska, told the National Association of Broadcasters, which represents hundreds of local television and radio affiliates. “I think we have the same power to deal with cable as over-the-air” broadcasters.
“There has to be some standard of decency,” he said, but noted that “no one wants censorship.“
Stevens cited the discussion of masturbation and sex toys during prime time television as one example of content that bothered him. He told reporters he would extend the restrictions to premium channels like HBO as well.
“If we can work out the constitutional questions, I’d be supportive of that,” Barton of Texas told reporters later at the conference. “I think they ought to play, to the extent possible, by the same rules.” [Emphasis added.]
So he wants to throw the entire weight of the Constitution behind an argument to prevent people from seeing TV shows about masturbation and sex toys? Where would Clarence Thomas come down on that argument?
Cable TV is not the same as over-the-air. One’s a public commodity, the other is a private utility paid for by a subscriber and controlled at the receiving end by the subscriber. It’s the argument they used in their attempts control content on the internet, and the courts have come down flatly against it time and again.
Once again the proponents of “limited government” and “personal accountability” want to dictate to citizens what they can or can’t do in private. And they accuse the Democrats of being the control freaks. Heavy sigh.