The Supreme Court of the United States has unanimously dismissed some fines divvied out to television broadcasters by the Federal Communications Commission due to cussing and the occasional frame or two of nudity.
The court sided with the broadcasters because it said broadcasters didn’t have a way of expecting that celebrities’ unplanned utterances of cuss words on awards shows (looking at you, Bono) or even the brief flash of Dennis Franz’s plump loaf of an ass on NYPD Blue would elicit fines from the FCC. Actually, the FCC didn’t have any problem with Franz showing his backside; apparently, the example that earned NYPD Blue‘s broadcaster, ABC, a fine from the FCC involved some lady-butt display in a 2003 episode.
While this ruling is a welcome reprieve for ABC, which faced fines of up to $1.24 million for allegedly violating the FCC’s guidelines on indecency, the court’s decision isn’t a full-on ruling on the constitutionality of the FCC’s indecency policy. According to the Associated Press, Justice Anthony Kennedy said, “It is unnecessary for the court to address the constitutionality of the current policy.”
Given the judicial branch of the U.S. government is often perceived as a bunch of stiff robes, the decision indicates that even the high court can agree that mild obscenities aren’t going to bright about the end of days. And besides, if a court on which sits that gesture-flicking jester, Justice Antonin Scalia, can’t abide by a few blue words and the occasional backside of a grown man, then really, where has our national sense of humor disappeared to?