‘If indecent language is fully protected by the Constitution when uttered on TV/radio in the presence of children, why isn’t it also fully protected when uttered in the workplace around an adult?’

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NEW YORK (September 13, 2007) – Morality in Media President Robert Peters had the following comments regarding the sexual harassment case brought against New York Knick President Isiah Thomas, now being tried in a Manhattan federal court.  As described in today’s N.Y. Post (“Scoring Machine”), “Allegations of rampant verbal abuse is central to” the case against Thomas.  As described in yesterday’s N.Y. Daily News  (“Axed Veep Calls Isiah Mr. Bleep”), “Knicks coach Isiah Thomas was a foulmouthed bully…a…jury was told yesterday in a day of raw testimony filled with obscenities and sexual slurs.”

“It ought to go without saying that the First Amendment was never intended to protect every utterance.  Among other things, the First Amendment does not protect treasonous, fraudulent or libelous statements, inciting a riot, perjury, contempt of court, false advertising, copyright violations, threats, insubordination in the military, child pornography and obscenity.

“According to our nation’s TV broadcasters, however, the First Amendment now protects indecent language (also known as vulgarity, profanity, cursing, swearing, obscenities, or expletives) when uttered on TV or radio, regardless of circumstances.

“And to prove it, they have sued the Federal Communications Commission in two federal courts (New York and Philadelphia) to have the broadcast indecency law declared unconstitutional.

“If indecent language is without qualification protected by the First Amendment when uttered on TV or radio, however, why shouldn’t such language be equally protected in the workplace?

“Can it be, under our nation’s new ‘living’ (i.e., ever changing) constitution, that protecting adults from indecent language in the workplace is now justifiable but protecting both adults and children from indecent language in the privacy of the home is no longer justifiable?

“If you listen to the broadcasters, you would think that our nation’s founding fathers risked their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor so that citizens, whether in the press or in the marketplace, could utter obscenities with impunity, regardless of circumstances.

“Personally, I am no friend of on-the-job sexual harassment, and I have no problem with reasonable laws prohibiting such harassment.  Nor do I have a problem with the broadcast indecency law or with regulating indecency on cable/satellite TV.”


Author: MIM   09/13/2007

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NCOSE leads the Coalition to End Sexual Exploitation with over 300 member organizations.


The National Center on Sexual Exploitation has had over 100 policy victories since 2010. Each victory promotes human dignity above exploitation.


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