IPtelligentsia Podcast: Senate Indecency Hearings (Part 2 of 3)

On Thursday, the Senate Commerce Committee held hearings about regulating indecency on television. Sen. Ted Stevens (R-AK) and some of his colleagues seem intent on curbing broadcast and cablecast indecency by new legislation or some extra-legislative means, notwithstanding the fact that extending such regulations to cable and the internet would violate the First Amendment.
IPtelligentsia Podcast: Senate Decency Hearings (Part 2 of 3) (20:32 MP3)
Related links:
Decency: Full Committee Hearing (witness list and archived webcast)
FCC v. Pacifica Foundation, 438 U.S. 726 (1978).
United States v. Playboy Entertainment Group, Inc., 529 U.S. 803 (2000).
Reno v. Am. Civil Liberties Union, 521 U.S. 844 (1997).
Sable Communications v. FCC, 492 U.S. 115, 127 (1989).
Action for Children

Bloggers, book deals and gnomes

Today’s NY Times features a long article about David Lat, the former federal prosecutor who created Article III Groupie– the author of Underneath Their Robes, the only gossip site about federal judges: He Fought the Law. They Both Won.
In November, Lat publicly revealed that he wrote A3G with an article in The New Yorker by Jeffrey Toobin: Scotus Watch.
As the Times article recounts, this news caught Lat’s employers at the US Attorney’s office by surprise, and after , Lat quickly took the blog offline.
End result, Lat joined Nick Denton’s snarky bunch of bloggers at Gawker media as the replacement for Ana Marie Cox at Wonkette: Wonkette’s Sex Change.
This week, life-at-biglaw blogger Opinionista revealed herself as Melissa Lafsky, who left her law firm job, got some professional photos, and signed with the agent to the bloggers in order to prepare for her big reveal in the New York Observer. Lafsky’s Last Laugh: Secret Legal Blogger Says ‘I’m Opinionista!’. Veracity verdict: Actually a woman, actually a lawyer, actually at a boutique-sized outpost office of a biglaw firm, no actual book deal. Even though this article was in the Observer, Lafsky picked up some A-list press from the Times last year.
Gawker wonders: “Is there some sort of internerd law that dictates all anonymous bloggers must eventually reveal themselves through a contorted ritual of self-referential blog posts and media publicity? We thought that crap always came after the book deal.”
All the way back in December 2004 (that’s like seven years ago in internet time!), Jeremy Blachman was profiled in the Times as the author of the Anonymous Lawyer and inked his book deal in March of aught-five.
Here’s the short lesson:
Step 1. Write a funny anonymous blog.
Step 2. ???
Step 3. Profit.
See Underpants Gnomes
Off to write at my anonymous site…

IPtelligentsia Podcast: Senate Indecency Hearings (Part 1 of 3)

This morning, the Senate Commerce Committee held hearings about regulating indecency on television. Sen. Ted Stevens (R-AK) and some of his colleagues seem intent on curbing broadcast and cablecast indecency by new legislation or some extra-legislative means, notwithstanding the fact that extending such regulations to cable and the internet would violate the First Amendment.
IPtelligentsia Podcast: Senate Decency Hearings (Part 1 of 3) (30:33 MP3)
Related links:
Decency: Full Committee Hearing (witness list and archived webcast)
FCC v. Pacifica Foundation, 438 U.S. 726 (1978).
United States v. Playboy Entertainment Group, Inc., 529 U.S. 803 (2000).
Reno v. Am. Civil Liberties Union, 521 U.S. 844 (1997).
Sable Communications v. FCC, 492 U.S. 115, 127 (1989).
Action for Children

Frack

You can tell that you’ve been watching too much Battlestar Galactica when you actually use “frack” in conversation. (Frack is a word used on the show as an all-purpose expletive, which apparently is sufficiently weird that Sci-Fi Channel standards and practices doesn’t bleep it.)
This is an example of how the law shapes creativity. In order to avoid broadcasting obscene or indecent language, networks would bleep over offending language. The super-cheesy original Battlestar Galactica series, with Lorne Greene, invented the fracking expletive (along with creative measures of time and currency.) As a result, though, dialogue on Galactica has its own particular tone and rhythm. If it used the normal English equivalents, the show might sound more like The Sopranos, just with the Jersey accents toned down a bit. Salon.com’s Video Dog has a compilation of clips incorporating the word: Motherfracker!
In another way, writers can build on the fact that networks will bleep the worst language. In a first-season episode of Arrested Development, Bringing Up Buster, the writers sent Buster on a 10-second long tirade, where we hear “cause I’m an uptight…[bleeeeeeeeep]…Buster…[bleeeeeeeep]… you old horny slut!” The video shows only the other characters’ (Michael, GOB and Lindsay) horrified reactions. The result is more offensive than anything the writers could think up, because those 10 seconds are filled with the foulest language each viewer can image, and that language may be different for each imagination.
Last year, the FCC ruled that bleeps which merely suggest the uttering of indecent speech do not violate the Commission’s prohibition on broadcast indecency. Learn all about it in this IPtelligentsia video blog from last year.