Carol Platt Liebau: Silly Reasoning

Monday, June 11, 2007

Silly Reasoning

This piece discusses a Second Circuit decision that, in my view, used a bogus evaluation of the "nation's indecency climate" to rule against FCC restrictions on crass language over the airwaves.

The court cited both President Bush's and Vice President Cheney's use of expletives, arguing essentially that it demonstrated that such language was part of the American mainstream. The author of the piece appears to agree.

Well, maybe the language is mainstream and maybe it's not, but the analogy is terminally flawed, because when the President and VP resorted to such language, it was in the context of a private conversation with one other individual (Tony Blair and Patrick Leahy, respectively), not in situations where they knew the language would be transmitted to millions -- as celebrities do, when accepting awards on live television.

Allowing and normalizing such language, as the Second Circuit did, only encourages the resort to vulgarity in public discourse. Surely the President and VP wouldn't have used the relevant epithets as part of a public address -- and neither should movie stars.

What's even worse is that the opinion piece linked above takes liberties with the truth that are really ridiculous. It starts off:

President George W. Bush has not exactly been a hero to civil libertarians, what with the data mining, wiretapping and library snooping.

Anyone care to reveal where -- at any time -- "library snooping" has been a practice employed by the Administration? There isn't one. As for the "data mining" and "wiretapping," the author of the piece might want to check out the recent Fox News/Opinion Dynamics poll cited over at National Review. When asked whether the United States had pursued terrorists here at home too aggressively or not aggressively enough, here were the results:

Among Democrats 24 percent said "too aggressively," 56 percent said "not aggressively enough," 12 percent said just right, and 8 percent said they didn't know. Among Republicans, 9 percent said "too aggressively," 67 percent said "not aggressively enough," 20 percent said just right, and 4 percent said they didn't know.

Guess that "civil libertarians" as defined by the piece above make up a smaller segment of the American public than they'd like us to believe.


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