FCC Speech Restrictions Not Appropriate in Real Life

Five Republican state senators in Arizona have introduced a bill that attempts to limit free speech in the classroom. SB 1467 would make it an offense for teachers to “engage in speech or conduct that would violate the standards adopted by the Federal Communications Commission concerning obscenity, indecency and profanity if that speech or conduct were broadcast on television or radio.”
The prohibition would encompass both teachers’ speech and the curriculum they may choose. Running afoul of the proposed law could result in suspension or termination. The bill is written so broadly that it would even censor teachers in their private lives.
On many levels, this is a terrible idea. But what makes it especially silly is its misguided reliance on the FCC’s indecency policy as a benchmark for what constitutes “bad” speech.
The only reason broadcast indecency/profanity regulation exists is because, once upon a time, radio and television broadcasts were considered so pervasive that the average citizen had no “reasonable protection” from “harmful” language delivered over the airwaves. (Obscenity is defined at the local level, outside the FCC’s purview.)
In today’s media environment, such a perspective seems downright anachronistic – which is why major broadcast networks have appealed to the Supreme Court to do away with the FCC’s indecency regulations. There is a decent chance that it may do just that. And if that comes to pass, what legal “foundation” will the noobs in Arizona turn to next?
Attempts to make legislate morality are often tinged with idiocy, but this one really shoots itself in the foot.