Pin It
Favorite

Indecency Proposal 

Idaho lawmakers want the FCC to crack down on sex on TV

click to enlarge Get a room already, and get off TV, say some lawmakers.
  • Get a room already, and get off TV, say some lawmakers.

On most days, it seems the Idaho Legislature would be happiest if the federal government evaporated into thin air. But on occasion, the feds become a tool lawmakers in Boise aren’t afraid to use.

Last month, it was a call for feds to crack down on marijuana after two nearby states legalized the drug for recreational use. (The measure didn’t pass in the end, but another did, saying Idaho intends never to legalize pot.) This week, some state representatives want the Federal Communications Commission to do something about how much sex kids are seeing on TV.

“The Federal Communications Commission is encouraged to resume enforcement of traditional American standards of decency,” reads a non-binding resolution that is expected to reach the House floor for debate this week.

The joint resolution from both chambers of the Legislature comes with no action, but calls on the FCC to prohibit talking about or showing sex on TV, especially if it’s outside of marriage. “References to premarital sex, characters lying in bed together and characters disrobing or undressing” are all too much for the children, according to legislators.

Caldwell Republican Rep. Darrell Bolz says he introduced the resolution because a constituent came to him a few years ago concerned about the “general connotation” of modern TV shows. Since federal rules would override any Idaho law on the issue, he introduced this measure as “more a statement than anything else” about what the citizens of Idaho want on their televisions between 6 am and 10 pm.

“At some point we have to stand up for our morals,” Bolz says.

The FCC, which regulates what’s allowed on TV and radio, already curbs what’s permissible between those hours, but Bolz doesn’t think they’re enforcing those rules well enough. Edgy (but not obscene) expressions are protected by the First Amendment, so the FCC can’t ban them altogether, but courts have allowed it to regulate what’s on at times when children are most likely to be watching. Shows that are indecent — anything that “depicts or describes, in terms patently offensive as measured by contemporary community standards for the broadcast medium, sexual or excretory organs or activities” — can’t air between 6 am and 10 pm.

While there’s no mention of premarital sex in current FCC regulations, the definition of “contemporary community standards” is a highly subjective moving target. Not only do times change, but the people interpreting the rules do too. The current Democratic chairman has pursued fewer indecency complaints than his two Republican predecessors. Meanwhile, the Supreme Court has refused to determine whether TV and radio regulations should continue as they are, and if new technologies, like cable TV and the Internet, should be controlled in the same way.

Wayne Hoffman, president of the Idaho Freedom Foundation, a nonprofit that advocates for individual rights and limited government, argues against Bolz’s resolution on the basis of that uncertainty. In a piece on the Idaho State Journal’s politics blog, Hoffman argues that when the government “assumes the role of morality police” and bureaucrats determine what’s allowed on TV, enforcement can be unpredictable.

“[Idaho lawmakers are] offended by and frightened by the proliferation of what they presume to be undesirable content,” Hoffman writes. “But they should be more offended and frightened by a government that has the power to tell us what’s right and what’s wrong, to punish us when they find the latter and … can’t or won’t explain the difference.”

Tags:

  • Pin It

Latest in News

  • In Their Best Interest
  • In Their Best Interest

    Why many neglected kids don't have legal representation for critical decisions that could dictate their future
    • Feb 23, 2017
  • 'Right Side of History'
  • 'Right Side of History'

    The Washington Supreme Court rules against Arlene's Flowers; plus, two dogs call it a day
    • Feb 23, 2017
  • Frozen Out
  • Frozen Out

    In the middle of a chaotic winter, the city of Spokane ousted its veteran street director, but won't give an explanation to the city council
    • Feb 23, 2017
  • More »

Readers also liked…

  • Manufacturing Fear
  • Manufacturing Fear

    Spokane's Republican sheriff says members of his own party are dangerously dividing people
    • Aug 12, 2015
  • Seven Ways Drought is Impacting the Inland Northwest
  • Seven Ways Drought is Impacting the Inland Northwest

    No, it's not as bad as in California, but drought is taking a hefty toll
    • Jul 29, 2015
  • Brick by Brick
  • Brick by Brick

    Development continues in downtown Spokane; here are some construction projects that could change the city's urban core
    • Aug 26, 2015

Comments


Comments are closed.

Today | Sat | Sun | Mon | Tue | Wed | Thu
Mammoths & Mastodons: Titans of the Ice Age

Mammoths & Mastodons: Titans of the Ice Age @ Northwest Museum of Arts & Culture

Tuesdays-Sundays. Continues through May 7

All of today's events | Staff Picks

More by Heidi Groover

  • Brachytherapy Breakthrough
  • Brachytherapy Breakthrough

    A new option for treating skin cancer skips the scalpel
    • Dec 1, 2014
  • It's Exploding
  • It's Exploding

    Why lawmakers and cops are worried about people blowing themselves up
    • Nov 25, 2014
  • GU Shake-Up
  • GU Shake-Up

    The woman overseeing reports of sexual assault at Gonzaga resigns; plus, a new study on Lakeland Village
    • Nov 25, 2014
  • More »

Most Commented On

  • We Have Not Yet Begun to Fight

    Why we're filling the streets to protest Trump's inhumane, dangerous policies
    • Feb 2, 2017
  • Obscene Gestures

    Spokane political party leaders hope to harness post-election passion into civil discourse. But so far, there's only been more strife
    • Feb 9, 2017
  • More »

Top Tags in
News & Comment

briefs


green zone


marijuana


Comment


do something


Readers also liked…

  • 'Unreasonable Threat to Life and Property'
  • 'Unreasonable Threat to Life and Property'

    Spokane's rental housing has problems, but landlord and tenant groups are split on a solution
    • Aug 11, 2016
  • Patrolling While Black
  • Patrolling While Black

    Gordon Grant's nearly 30 years as a Spokane cop have been affected by race, but that's not the whole story
    • Jul 8, 2015
  • Hopeless for Heroin
  • Hopeless for Heroin

    As heroin deaths continue to rise in Washington state, what can a parent do to save a child from the depths of addiction?
    • Jul 29, 2015

© 2017 Inlander
Website powered by Foundation