SternMachine

Jeff Jarvis has published a cover story on the Howard Stern saga in The Nation. It’s entitled “F*CKED BY THE F*CC.”

Stern shies away from no sacred cow. He is a positive force in American media. Just as weblogs tweak big media to keep them honest, Stern pushes the line to keep politicians and celebrities and his audience honest. So I like to listen to him. If you don’t, fine. Listen to something else. I won’t stop you. Just don’t stop me.

And there’s the real question: If the government is going to regulate speech, where’s the line and who’s going to draw it? Is it at the least-common-denominator that makes all media safe for 5-year-olds? Is it at the church door that makes all media safe for church ladies? Is it at my car door so I can still listen to Stern? Is the line going to be drawn just on broadcast or will it extend to cable and satellite–and the Internet? Will the censored be just shock jocks–or newsmakers or bloggers?

I don’t have all that much sympathy for Stern, given that he operates under an FCC license and has repeatedly flouted the law. Nor am I as adamant as Jeff that denying the public the right to hear about private parts, bodily emissions, unusual sex acts, and the like over the airwaves is a major threat to the Republic. And, really, if the FCC goes after Wonkette next, we’ll likely survive.

Still, the harm that letting Stern do his thing unimpeded by federal content regulation would do to the Republic is small indeed. “For the children” is an increasingly tired argument. And, in the context of explicit language, essentially moot these days. Language and content much more vile than anything on Stern’s program can be heard pretty much anywhere rap music is played. Which is to say, pretty much everywhere. At least you have to voluntarily turn on Stern’s show.

I couldn’t help but be amused by this addendum to Jeff’s post:

PREVIOUS DAILY STERN POSTS: here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here. [hyperlinks omitted]

That’s a lot of Stern posts!

FILED UNDER: Popular Culture
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. bryan says:

    He is a positive force in American media.

    {Chuckle}

  2. cbk says:

    “At least you have to voluntarily turn on Stern’s show.”

    Not necessarily.

    More like, “Like rap music, you can be stuck at a red light listening to bile with little recourse but to roll up your windows and crank your radio in the hope of drowning it out.”

    And that goes for all those other morning talk show shock jocks that Stern ‘trailblazed’ for across the country.

    CBK

  3. kim says:

    Hi,
    I’d also seen Jeff’s post. While you might think from the title that the article is about Stern, it’s really more about how the line between church and state is getting blurred. And how a vocal minority is defining what is correct on the airways.

  4. Attila Girl says:

    I could never stand to hear him. He is just such a bitter, hateful man.

    It wasn’t the sex stuff that bothered me–it was that freeform malevolence, and that hostility toward women.

    Come to think of it, his show was EXACTLY like a lot of rap music: misogyny on tap.

  5. some punter says:

    I hope i misunderstood something here… people are actually bickering about other people saying “FUCK” on air while this country of yours is in the midst of a war? (You know: “War”, as in: “actual people actually getting killed on a daily basis, actually”?). … Must check my dictionary again for “obscenity”… guess i missed something there.

  6. Neal says:

    Smut on the airways is a lot like the “Broken Window” theory in New York City. Keep the trash picked up, the streets clean and the windows repaired and people respect the neighborhood.

    re: the comment about the line between church and state ‘getting’ blurred. Are you implying that the religious are haveing more effect on government policy than has previously been the case? Would you ever have imagined in 1950 that something like Howard Stern would be allowed on the air?