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Government Media

FCC to Investigate Stephen Colbert for ‘Homophobic’ Trump Joke

Written by Philip Hodges

I doubt Stephen Colbert wrote the ‘homophobic’ joke in which he said that the only thing Trump’s mouth is good for is for holding Putin’s…well…you know. But he obviously agreed to go along with it. It is his job.

Was the joke off color? To say the least. Vulgar? Sure. Did it cross the line? Yeah, a long time ago. Was it stupid? Yes, it wasn’t even funny. Any joke that has to do with the invisible and nonexistent link between Russia and Trump is dumb.

But ‘homophobic?’ Come on.

This is simply what passes for humor on late night shows. It’s really nothing new. It’s why a lot of people don’t watch it. And it’s also why a lot of people do watch it.

Whatever the case, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is going to be investigating the late show host for his derogatory joke about the President. At most, someone will be ponying up for a hefty fine that’s probably pocket change to all those involved. From Variety:

“I have had a chance to see the clip now and so, as we get complaints — and we’ve gotten a number of them — we are going to take the facts that we find and we are going to apply the law as it’s been set out by the Supreme Court and other courts and we’ll take the appropriate action,” FCC Chairman Ajit Pai told Philadelphia’s Talk Radio 1210 WPHT.

“Traditionally, the agency has to decide, if it does find a violation, what the appropriate remedy should be,” he continued. “A fine, of some sort, is typically what we do.”

According to the FCC’s own rules, it appears that they’d consider the joke ‘indecent’:

What makes material indecent? Indecent material contains sexual or excretory material that does not rise to the level of obscenity. For this reason, the courts have held that indecent material is protected by the First Amendment and cannot be banned entirely. It may, however, be restricted to avoid its broadcast during times of the day when there is a reasonable risk that children may be in the audience. The FCC has determined, with the approval of the courts, that there is a reasonable risk that children will be in the audience from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m., local time. Therefore, the FCC prohibits station licensees from broadcasting indecent material during that period.

Material is indecent if, in context, it depicts or describes sexual or excretory organs or activities in terms patently offensive as measured by contemporary community standards for the broadcast medium. In each case, the FCC must determine whether the material describes or depicts sexual or excretory organs or activities and, if so, whether the material is patently offensive.

In our assessment of whether material is patently offensive, context is critical. The FCC looks at three primary factors when analyzing broadcast material: (1) whether the description or depiction is explicit or graphic; (2) whether the material dwells on or repeats at length descriptions or depictions of sexual or excretory organs; and (3) whether the material appears to pander or is used to titillate or shock. No single factor is determinative. The FCC weighs and balances these factors because each case presents its own mix of these, and possibly other, factors. 

The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by EagleRising.com


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Philip Hodges

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