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Television Media Censorship Government United States Politics

FCC Indecency Ruling Struck Down 548

Posted by Zonk
from the mebbe-everybody-should-calm-down dept.
arbitraryaardvark writes "Reuters reports that the 2nd circuit has struck down the FCC's recent ruling on indecency, in a case brought by Fox. The court said the U.S. Federal Communications Commission was 'arbitrary and capricious' in setting a new standard for defining indecency. 'Republican FCC Chairman Kevin Martin angrily retorted that he found it "hard to believe that the New York court would tell American families that 'sh*t' and 'f@ck' are fine to say on broadcast television during the hours when children are most likely to be in the audience ... If we can't restrict the use (of the two obscenities) during prime time, Hollywood will be able to say anything they want, whenever they want," Martin said in a statement.' No word yet on whether the agency will appeal.
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FCC Indecency Ruling Struck Down

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  • But Wait... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by MarkPNeyer (729607) on Tuesday June 05, 2007 @09:06AM (#19395835)
    I thought fox was a republican lapdog?
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by shoptroll (544006)
      Didn't you see the recent Simpsons episode? The main Fox channel funnels money through FCC fines to the republican party who supports the news channel?

      Wait.... I think I just goofed that up. I was never good at conspiracy theories.

    • by mollog (841386) on Tuesday June 05, 2007 @09:46AM (#19396495)
      Or is it the other way around; the Republicans are Fox's bitch. Either way, you're trying to be logical about politics, you yourself are being illogical.

      Republicans are supposed to be political conservatives. Political conservatives are supposed to be against government interference in private lives. Terri Schaivo, abortion rights, gay marriage, etc. show that they care more about their 'base', the social conservatives, than they care about political philosophy.

      And the fact that Fox has been leading the charge when it comes to smutty, sensationalist television, which you think would offend the religious right, and they they get a free ride from the Republican Party because they're such whores about supporting the NeoCons is just another example of the hypocritical politics we have these days. Another reason why religion and politics are a bad, but historical, combination.

      I'd love to support the Republicans (fiscal conservatives, political conservatives), but I don't dare support the whores and hypocrites in power right now.
      • by Attila Dimedici (1036002) on Tuesday June 05, 2007 @11:06AM (#19398067)
        Actually, conservatives are technically resistant to change (although most self identified conservatives today are also in favor of minimal government). Opposition to "gay marriage" is opposition to change...that is marriage as currently defined (one man to one woman) works, why change it? If we need something like "gay marriage" why not create something new for that purpose instead of changing an existing social practice that works (BTW what I mean by "works" is a complex topic and defining that is completely off topic in this post)? Abortion rights is a question of whose rights, the mother's or the child's? You either believe that the mother's rights trump the child's, or that it is not a child, not everyone shares that opinion. If someone believes that a fetus is a child then it is logically consistent for them to expect the government to protect its right to live. This is not necessarily a question of government interference in private lives...unless you think that laws against murder are interference in private lives. There are similar arguments about the Schiavo case. One of the problems we have in this country is that many issues are couched to make one side or the other look bad instead of about the actual disagreement. "Abortion right" is not about government interference in private lives, it is about disagreement over when life becomes subject to government protection. For example, most people who think there should be no government regulation of abortion, think the government should regulate how a parent disciplines their child.
      • The problem is that the Republican party, as of the last decade or so, isn't precisely conservative at all. The Republicans have abandoned just about every "conservative" value or position, including small government (or at least opposing its increase), states' rights, individual freedoms, etc. (About the only thing an actual 'conservative' and a modern Republican would agree on is their stance on gun control.)

        They are no longer, and haven't been for some time, "conservative." In fact they seem to want to change quite a lot. They're probably best described as 'authoritarian,' particularly on the social side. And IMO, "social conservatives" aren't conservatives at all; the title is a complete misnomer. They're not trying to prevent some sort of drastic change to the social fabric, they're trying to induce a drastic change. They are, by many objective definitions, actually quite radical. (Of course, they tend not to think so -- they prefer to think of themselves as trying to take the country back to some 1950s idyll that never existed outside their own imaginations.)

        The actual conservative wing of the Republican party died with Barry Goldwater; what remains has nothing to do with conservatism and everything to do with pushing a transformative agenda. It's just a different transformative agenda than what the more far-left elements of the Democratic party want.
  • by karmaflux (148909) on Tuesday June 05, 2007 @09:07AM (#19395855)
    How exactly did the guy pronounce "f@ck"?
  • Freedom of Speech? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by i_ate_god (899684) on Tuesday June 05, 2007 @09:08AM (#19395869) Homepage
    "Hollywood will be able to say anything they want, whenever they want,"

    If I'm not mistaken, thats the whole idea of freedom of speech right?
    • by cHALiTO (101461)
      Besides, they're not being forced to air the show with the offending speech. if they don't feel it should be aired, then don't put it on the air or change the schedule, but DON'T CENSOR IT. I hate TNT and its stupid bits of silence in movies when someone swears.
      • by BKX (5066)
        Bad example. TNT's a cable network and, as such, not subject to FCC rules. They can say anything they want, just like Comedy Central does. Of course, this doesn't counter your complaint against TNT but strengthens it. TNT is a bunch of cocksuckers for making movies unwatchable for no real reason.
    • by smenor (905244)

      Not only that but *if* people actually deemed saying fuck during prime time to be a bad thing, those people can always just change the channel, or not buy the products advertised on those shows.

      I know I'm just hacking on Carlin and a thousand other comedians and broadcasters here, but I have never understood the idea that saying certain words is intrinsically harmful.

      Also, the rules, such as they are(were?), are ridiculous.

      You can say crap or ass with impunity but shit is "an ess bomb" that you can (c

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Rimbo (139781)

      "Hollywood will be able to say anything they want, whenever they want,"

      If I'm not mistaken, thats the whole idea of freedom of speech right?

      Nope, you're not mistaken. The whole idea of the 1st Amendment is to protect speech that is offensive, for whatever reason, because no one's interested in restricting speech that's inoffensive.

      What a Revolutionary idea.

      The goal of course is not just to have freedom of speech but freedom after speech. You know, because you can say whatever you want in China, but you mi

  • The short version (Score:5, Interesting)

    by dkleinsc (563838) on Tuesday June 05, 2007 @09:08AM (#19395875) Homepage
    Supreme Court to FCC: "Fuck off"

    Actually, one of the most amusing parts of the ruling was the court citing the fact that the words can't be that bad if George W Bush and Dick Cheney use them (to Tony Blair and Patrick Leahy respectively).
    • by shoptroll (544006)
      Except it was the appeals court. If the FCC appeals, this will have to the Supremes I think?

      This is a good thing anyways. It's been documented that the FCC is pandering to a very vocal minority of ultra-conservative special interest groups in recent years.
    • by barzok (26681)
      The Supreme Court also ruled in 1978 that one can't say those words on TV in FCC vs. Pacifica Foundation [wikipedia.org]. Yes, different court, etc.
      • by ari_j (90255)
        Is that what the Supreme Court actually held? I thought that they held that the FCC could regulate such words on TV, which is a far cry from holding that you can't say them on TV at all.
    • by xs650 (741277) on Tuesday June 05, 2007 @09:22AM (#19396105)
      Using Bush's and Cheney's personal behavior as justification for anything is setting a dangerous president.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by KaiserSoze (154044)
        Your point is understood, but I'd rather look at this as a rebuke of the massive hypocrisy of the Bushies. So it's ok for Cheney to tell a Senator (on the floor of the Senate) to "Fuck off" but someone saying "Fuck this war" on TV results in massive fines? Hey Cheney: fuck off.
  • by niceone (992278) *
    What the fack is facking fack?
  • Fleeting use... (Score:5, Informative)

    by KingSkippus (799657) * on Tuesday June 05, 2007 @09:10AM (#19395897) Homepage Journal

    What he's leaving out is that the case was over the "fleeting" use of such words, such as during live events when something accidentally slips through. If a pre-recorded show has the words in there and it is deliberately broadcasted, the indecency rules still apply.

    The problem is that currently, the FCC sometimes enforces the standard of "fleeting use," and sometimes it doesn't. The courts are just saying that it needs to be standardized and rationally applied.

    • by Billosaur (927319) *

      And here I thought fleeting use had to do with the Navy...

      It doesn't just have to be a word either. Remember the flap over Janet Jackson's "fleeting glimpse"?

    • by aussie_a (778472)
      Its a step in the right fucking direction though.
  • "If we can't restrict the use (of the two obscenities) during prime time, Hollywood will be able to say anything they want, whenever they want," Martin said in a statement.


    Wouldn't that be a good thing?

    Why would censorship be considered de-facto beneficial?

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by gadders (73754)
      Yeah, because there is nothing cooler than hearing a two year old kid say "Fuck".
      • by grassy_knoll (412409) on Tuesday June 05, 2007 @09:23AM (#19396117) Homepage

        Yeah, because there is nothing cooler than hearing a two year old kid say "Fuck".


        So, public communication should be limited by government fiat to that which is acceptable for a two year old?
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Jimmy King (828214)

        Yeah, because there is nothing cooler than hearing a two year old kid say "Fuck".

        Are you arguing that censorship to protect the children IS a good thing?

        While I tend to believe that the first amendment is more to protect our right to express any IDEA we want rather than say any specific word we want at any time, I still think that the FCC limiting this shit is stupid.

        Here's a better idea.
        Parent: "Little Bobby, that show/movie/whatever is inappropriate, let's watch this instead." Then change the channel.

        or

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by CmdrGravy (645153)
          Here's an even better idea

          "Hey, bobby you fat fuck go and get me another beer and then piss off out somewhere 'cos I can see your mums gagging for it right now."

          "Right then you filthy whore lets see what you're packing under that dress. Eh, I've told you once bobby - Fuck Off, don't make me come and smack you one you lazy little bastard."

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by aussie_a (778472)
        Perhaps that 2 year old's parents should do their fucking job and fucking monitor what the fucking kid watches instead of putting them in front of the fucking television and walking away. Or perhaps people can grow the fuck up and realize that fuck is just a fucking word and it isn't going to hurt anyone unless the fuckers let it hurt themselves.
    • by profplump (309017) <zach-slashjunk@kotlarek.com> on Tuesday June 05, 2007 @09:22AM (#19396097)
      No, no, no. You're forgetting that the fleeting use of "obscenities" actually physically harms children under 12. Too much exposure and their eardrums will literally melt. And while their eardrums will eventually grow back, the buildup of melted eardrum material will cause long-term hearing loss if left untreated.
      • No, no, no. You're forgetting that the fleeting use of "obscenities" actually physically harms children under 12. Too much exposure and their eardrums will literally melt. And while their eardrums will eventually grow back, the buildup of melted eardrum material will cause long-term hearing loss if left untreated.


        BUWAHAHAHAHA!!!

        Yes, I'd forgotten that naughty words cause little heads to asplode. Silly me.
      • by aussie_a (778472)
        Fuck, someone should have locked my mother up for child abuse then. She would often say "Fuck that's fucking fucked."
  • Damn, two years too late for Charles Rocket.

    (If you know who he is you are *OLD*)
  • Parents: (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Wicko (977078) on Tuesday June 05, 2007 @09:13AM (#19395965)
    You remember that little warning at the beginning of the show? This show contains coarse language, sexual content, and violence? Yeah, that means don't let your kids watch it. That wasn't too difficult I hope!
    • by Billosaur (927319) *

      Except the parents are not in the room to see the warning, as they are not policing what their kids watch on TV. My 8-year-old was bugged the other day because I wouldn't let him watch Stephen King's "The Stand" or Cops. We use the parental controls on our cable box to keep them locked out of things they don't need to watch, and to keep the cable off when they get home from school so they'll be able to do their homework. Now if I could just hook up the X-box the same way...

      • by jonwil (467024)
        Get an XBOX 360 and you can set Family Settings to restrict that stuff (I don't know if it actually has time lockouts but it certainly has content lockouts)
  • Sticks and Stones (Score:5, Insightful)

    by moehoward (668736) on Tuesday June 05, 2007 @09:13AM (#19395983)

    They are only words. Banning words is what gives the words power. My wife and I allow have told our kids that they are allowed to "cuss" around their friends and we don't have a problem with it. We'd like them to not cuss around us, but it is not "banned." We have asked that they not cuss around other adults, but it is not "banned." It is their own choice.

    Our kids understand that the use of those words simply is a sign to people of how dumb and inarticulate you are. I don't have a problem with using those words, but I choose not to (except when one-on-one with my wife... go figure). I am 100% sure that my kids have never heard me use profanity, but I am 100% sure that they hear it every day in other places. I have no problem with others using profanity at all. Sometimes it is funny, mostly it says an awful lot about the person using it. It is just words.

    Anyway, we have never heard any cussing from our kids and have never heard any comments from other parents/teachers.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      When used properly, the words provide a sign of how emotionally involved one is with one's speech. It provides an extra cue to mood. The problem is when you overuse your anglo-saxon monosyllables, depriving them of their indicative value.
    • by babyrat (314371) on Tuesday June 05, 2007 @09:47AM (#19396513)
      Our kids understand that the use of those words simply is a sign to people of how dumb and inarticulate you are.

      Do you also teach them not to judge a book by its cover, and how generalizations and prejudice are wrong?

      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by untaken_name (660789)
        Generalizations are always wrong. Never use absolutes.

      • by willow (19698) on Tuesday June 05, 2007 @10:34AM (#19397373)
        Don't be an idiot. What people *say* isn't an appearance (except for politicians :^)) and it seems perfectly reasonable to draw conclusions about someone's intelligence based on their speech.

        The parent is simply saying "When you choose an ambiguous swearing word like "f*ck", you are either outright dumb or too lazy to think of something more appropriate. Neither reflects well on you".

        OMFG :)
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by moeinvt (851793)
          "When you choose an ambiguous swearing word like "f*ck", you are either outright dumb or too lazy to think of something more appropriate."

          What could be more appropriate than "FUCK!" when you hit your finger with a hammer, lock your car keys inside the car with the motor running or drop your laptop while walking up a flight of stairs?

          I understand your point, but there are situations where expletives are definitely "appropriate".
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by hunterx11 (778171)

          Don't be an idiot. What people *say* isn't an appearance (except for politicians :^)) and it seems perfectly reasonable to draw conclusions about someone's intelligence based on their speech.

          Actually, this is an example of the fundamental attribution error [wikipedia.org]. Intelligence is not the same as one's manner of speech, or even necessarily of how articulate one is. Ideally, one should try to judge intelligence based on the content of ideas imparted by speech, not by the structure of the speech itself. In fact, judging a person on their speech is very much akin to judging them on their voluntary appearance, for example how they dress. Obviously manners of attire send social cues which reasonable people

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Aeron65432 (805385)
      Anyway, we have never heard any cussing from our kids

      Just wait until start gaming and hear that grating annoying godawful pseudo-female voice say, "Additional Supply Depots required."
      I always thought that if Microsoft played that audio clip when you got a BSOD there would be a lot of PC's flying out of Windows.
  • disgraceful (Score:5, Insightful)

    by nomadic (141991) <nomadicworld@nOSpaM.gmail.com> on Tuesday June 05, 2007 @09:13AM (#19395985) Homepage
    Look how he describes it not as a federal court, but as a "New York court" in order to exploit the biases of the rest of the country.
    • by monomania (595068)
      And of course, you remember the Pilot episode of Aaron Sorkin's "The West Wing" where "New York" (as an adjective) was christian conservative code for "Jewish" and an index of a character's anti-semitism.
  • God forbid... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by OfficialReverendStev (988479) on Tuesday June 05, 2007 @09:16AM (#19396021)
    God forbid that our poor children's virgin ears should hear from their TV the same words that they hear every day at school. Or that they should ever see a *gasp* boobie. Oh no, that's horrible and will surely corrupt our youth.

    Now, showing live video from the Virginia Tech massacre (you know, the camera phone that recorded the shootings from outside) or showing massive explosions and horrific, gory deaths, that's fine. Totally fine. We want to breed killers so we can send them to fight our wars... er... defend Freedom(TM)
  • by u-bend (1095729) on Tuesday June 05, 2007 @09:19AM (#19396055) Homepage Journal
    Today's starting off pretty well--first the RIAA gets a small smackdown, and now this. It would be nice to live in a country where parents are actually expected to make decisions for themselves about what their kids watch. As a previous poster stated, we already have the annoying warnings about the content of upcoming programs--that means that if you don't want your kids absorbing and regurgitating TV filth, then don't let them watch it.
  • Hollywood will be able to say anything they want, whenever they want

    Isn't that why we've got that first amendment there?

  • Bowdlerization (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Republican FCC Chairman Kevin Martin angrily retorted that he found it "hard to believe that the New York court would tell American families that 'sh*t' and 'f@ck' are fine to say on broadcast television...

    No, he mentioned the words shit and fuck (see the article). It's ironic that someone felt the need to alter the (highly relevant) quotation in this supposedly uncensored medium.
    • Unfortunately, some net filters will kill your net access if it detects $X number of "offensive" words or terms. The person was likely just trying to save others the trouble of being told "no no bad monkey" by any net filters they may have in the office, on campus, at the library, etc.
    • by flonker (526111)
      Perhaps they're censored so that people who browse slashdot through a web filter will be able to see the front page? Either that, or it's to protect all of the little children that read slashdot.
  • Adopting an argument made by lawyers for NBC, the court cited examples in which Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney had used the same language that would be penalized under the policy. Mr. Bush was caught on videotape last July using a common vulgarity in a conversation with Prime Minister Tony Blair of Britain.

    If President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney can blurt out vulgar language, then the government cannot punish television stations for broadcasting the same words in similarly fleeting contexts.

    http://www.dallasnews.com/sharedcontent/dws/news/n ation/stories/060507dnnatdecency.388fcfc.html [dallasnews.com]

    What's latin for "pwned?"

  • From a Seinfeld episode
    ---
    Kramer: Well, I have to say this seems capricious and arbitrary.
    Dean Jones: You fly is open.
    ---
  • "Hollywood will be able to say anything they want, whenever they want"

    Isn't this one of the greatest freedoms we Americans have? Freedom of Speech? I can understand the concept of "indecent" and around kids agree, but not at the expense of censorship. It's up to parents to take care of their kids. If a show is kinda raunchy then don't allow your kids to watch it, if it's not in your personal beliefs. But don't limit people who want to express or see this form of expression.

    I think we spend too much time

  • Hollywood will be able to say anything they want, whenever they want," Martin said in a statement.'

    OMFG! We should be able to say anything we want, whenever we want!!! I'm against the over-use of offensive slang, but I'm not against the use of it. People really SHOULD be proud of their vocabulary strength. But more, still, people should be allowed to discriminate against others on an individual basis for the language they use giving more social level influence over what's acceptable and what's not. Putting control in the hands of a regulatory body and/or law makers is just ridiculous in my opinion.

  • let them put whatever they want on television. if you don't like what they're showing, get off the couch and do something else.
  • The wide array of choice enabled by technology has made the FCC irrelevant. My kids watch a few cable channels and DVDs. It is all geared for kids. The channels I let my kid watch self select into programming that does not contain profanity because they know that is a factor in the purchase factor I make on behalf of my kids. So, you see, good old fashioned free market economics has provided a safe haven for kids. FCC? Who needs them!
  • Why are words bad? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Liquidrage (640463) on Tuesday June 05, 2007 @09:37AM (#19396337)
    I've never understood why you can watch someone get shot in a drama in prime time, someone could say something like "I'd like to put a fork into your eyeball" in prime time, yet a single word like the F-Bomb can't be said?

    What is the actual purpose of "bad" words? Why not just consider that bad words don't exist and everyone can say any word they want and we just not "have a cow" over it?

    Seems to me we're taught to take exception to the words. It's a learned behavior. How about just not learning it in the 1st place?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Then you've never understood a basic fact about the culture in the USA. Violence is A-OK, but sex is dirty. Yes, it's a perverted way of looking at the world. We also have a fairly high murder rate, one of the highest incarceration rates on the planet, and we're in a select club (including Iran, China, and Saudi Arabia) who still practice capital punishment. We have a lot of people who think that civil rights laws were a usurpation of states' rights. We have a lot of people who think that child abuse
  • by grasshoppa (657393) <skennedy.tpno-co@org> on Tuesday June 05, 2007 @09:38AM (#19396351) Homepage
    Hollywood will be able to say anything they want, whenever they want

    And the problem with this lies where? We do too much to shelter our children, it's a disservice to them from us who are supposed to be raising adults. Let them hear the words, learn their intent and meaning, with a parent to teach them when it is and isn't appropriate to use them.

    *WE* are the parents, not the FCC. How dare they be so arrogant as to take the roll of parenting my children for me.

    ( 7, 5 and 3 year old girls )
  • by Ralph Spoilsport (673134) on Tuesday June 05, 2007 @09:39AM (#19396371) Journal
    "hard to believe that the New York court would tell American families that 'sh*t' and 'f@ck' are fine to say on broadcast television during the hours when children are most likely to be in the audience ... If we can't restrict the use (of the two obscenities) during prime time, Hollywood will be able to say anything they want, whenever they want,"

    And since this is a "free country" you will have every right and opportunity to NOT WATCH the television. You and your children can do something like READ A BOOK, or GO FOR A WALK, or LEARN TO PLAY AN INSTRUMENT, or any number of perfectly useful activities that do not include glotzing some retarded screen full of disinformation and jejune entertainment that reinforces a false consciousness that convinces people to act and live in a way that fosters the parasitic tapeworm economy.

    Feh.

    RS

  • by MalleusEBHC (597600) on Tuesday June 05, 2007 @09:47AM (#19396509)
    A quote from the AP story...

    The new policy was put in place after a January 2003 broadcast of the Golden Globes awards show by NBC when U2 lead singer Bono said an expletive before the word "brilliant." The FCC said the "F-word" in any context "inherently has a sexual connotation" and can trigger enforcement.

    ...

    In a statement, Martin said: "It is the New York court, not the commission, that is divorced from reality in concluding that the word `f---' does not invoke a sexual connotation."

    http://www.mercurynews.com/politics/ci_6063897 [mercurynews.com]

    So he thinks that every form of the versatile word "fuck" is inherently sexual. I keep wondering, is he fucking serious? That's a fucking ridiculous stance to take! If he is in charge of censoring our airwaves, things have gotten pretty fucked up.
  • by Maxo-Texas (864189) on Tuesday June 05, 2007 @10:02AM (#19396843)
    Most of these words are in common usage on the street.

    Shit is a particularly stupid example since we use it every day. It's like a rated "G" word which is peculiarly forbidden.
  • Obligatory FCC song (Score:3, Informative)

    by interactive_civilian (205158) <{mamoru} {at} {gmail.com}> on Tuesday June 05, 2007 @11:00AM (#19397933) Homepage Journal
    I believe this calls for some Eric Idle: The FCC Song [pythonline.com] (Free download, NSFW language in the song).

    According to Eric Idle, it is dedicated to the FCC, and if they broadcast it, it will cost a quarter of a million dollars. Have a listen. :)

  • Typical. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by JoshJ (1009085) on Tuesday June 05, 2007 @07:27PM (#19405413) Journal
    "If we can't restrict the use (of the two obscenities) during prime time, Hollywood will be able to say anything they want, whenever they want."

    Good. Fuck you. They should be able to say anything they want, whenever they want. Read the First Amendment sometime.

    There's a reason I despise the Republican party. If you guessed "stripping away our constitutional rights for the sake of catering to the moral majority/religious right" you win.
  • by zerofoo (262795) on Tuesday June 05, 2007 @07:39PM (#19405503)
    I'm a parent, so I have the right to say this:

    The only people who can tell my kids what to watch (or what not to watch) are my wife, and myself.

    The government has no business deciding what is decent and what is not. If you aren't enough of a parent to decide what is appropriate for your kids, you shouldn't have had them. Why do my tax dollars have to raise your kids?

    If you can't regulate what your kids watch, how are you going to keep them out of the liquor cabinet, or prevent them from taking your car without permission, later in life?

    Parents need to realize that raising kids is their responsibility, not the government's.

    -ted

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