Tuesday, February 03, 2004

Capitalism & Law: Dean's Prescription

It's never a good thing when Howard Dean is the voice of reason:
Howard Dean, a physician and a Democratic presidential candidate, on Monday dismissed as "silly" a government inquiry into whether indecency rules were broken during the broadcast of the Super Bowl halftime show when pop diva Janet Jackson's bodice was ripped to expose her right breast.

"I find that to be a bit of a flap about nothing," the former Vermont governor said. "I'm probably affected in some ways by the fact that I'm a doctor, so it's not exactly an unusual phenomenon for me."

During the break in the National Football League's championship game, singer Justin Timberlake reached for Jackson as they sang a duet and tore off part of her black leather bustier.

Federal Communications Commission chairman Michael Powell promised a "thorough and swift" investigation of the stunt aired during one of the most popular American television broadcasts, which also attracts a major worldwide audience.

"In general, I think the FCC does have a role in promoting some reasonable standard of decency," Dean told reporters aboard his campaign plane. "However, considering what's on television these days, I think the FCC is being pretty silly about investigating this."

Dean, who does not have cable television at his home in Burlington, Vermont, said Americans could inadvertently turn on "far worse things" while "cruising through cable at regular viewing hours."

"I don't find it terribly shocking relative to some of the things you can find on standard cable television," he added. "I think the FCC probably has a lot of other things they should be pursuing."
Of course, the "other things" Dean wants the FCC to pursue is breaking up larger broadcasters who hold political views Dean doesn't agree with. But at least Dean's remarks demonstrate that the FCC's response to "Nipplegate" is principally about appeasing President Bush's conservative base, not enforcing objective law.

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