Thursday, June 21, 2012

Supreme Court Ruling a Hollow Victory for Nudity on TV

BARE PLATYPUS closely followed a case that went all the way to the US Supreme Court this term.  It started years ago when the Federal Communications Commission levied fines of $1 million+ against ABC television stations for airing an episode of NYPD Blue that included a woman's bare buttocks.  The scene showed her derriere as viewed from the perspective of a young boy who mistakenly walked in on her while she dried herself after showering.  (Separately, the case also involved expletives uttered during an awards program broadcast live by the Fox network.)

This week the High Court Threw Out the Fines but issued no sweeping vindication of nudity or the 1st Amendment.  Instead, the Court merely ruled that the TV networks in question couldn't have foreseen that they would face massive fines over the incidents given that the FCC had made some changes in its indecency policy.  The ruling leaves the FCC free to make future changes to the policy and does not give advocates on either side the decisive answers they sought.

For our part, the Bare Platypus has to ask, what could be objectionable about simple footage of a woman showering?  We all shower most mornings.  We all have a bum.  Just how does reminding us of those two facts cross the line into indecency?