Friday, June 22, 2012

Court sidesteps broad issue of broadcast indecency, throws out FCC fines for nudity, cursing

WASHINGTON — Broadcasters anticipating a major constitutional ruling on the government’s authority to regulate what can be shown and said on the airwaves instead won only the smallest of Supreme Court victories Thursday.
The justices unanimously threw out fines and other penalties against Fox and ABC television stations that violated the Federal Communications Commission policy regulating curse words and nudity on television airwaves.
Forgoing a broader constitutional ruling, however, the court concluded only that broadcasters could not have known in advance that obscenities uttered during awards show programs on Fox stations and a brief display of nudity on an episode of ABC’s “NYPD Blue” could give rise to penalties. ABC and 45 affiliates had been hit with proposed fines totaling nearly $1.24 million.
Broadcasters had argued that the revolution in technology that has brought the Internet, satellite television and cable has made the rules themselves obsolete. The regulations apply only to broadcast channels.
The justices said the FCC is free to revise its indecency policy, which is intended to keep the airwaves free of objectionable material during the hours when children are likely to be watching.
The agency’s chairman, Julius Genachowski, said the ruling “appears to be narrowly limited to procedural issues related to actions taken a number of years ago. Consistent with vital First Amendment principles, the FCC will carry out Congress’s directive to protect young TV viewers.”
It was the second time the court has confronted, but not ruled conclusively on the FCC’s policy on isolated expletives. Justice Anthony Kennedy said in his opinion for the court that “it is unnecessary for the court to address the constitutionality of the current policy.”


Depressed Teen Turns to Jesus For Help

School encouraged pupil to write 'suicide note'

Wesley Walker, 14, was told to write to his mother as if he had a terminal illness and only had a few hours to live.
But when he handed the note to his mother Vicki, she believed it was a suicide letter and thought her son was going to hang himself. (Click here to view the letter).
The letter, seen by the BBC, said: "I am writing this letter to say goodbye and thank you for giving me life and don't cry I don't want you to be sad I want you to remember the fun times and the happy times."
Wesley added: "I know I have been a pain at the best of times but I am with nan and grandad now."
He also asked his mother to give his Xbox console and games to his father, leaving her everything else.


Bullies Apologize to Bus Monitor Karen Klein

Does Belief in Heaven & a Forgiving God Lead to Higher Crime Rates?

Can we blame God’s mercy for higher crime rates? This is the seemingly bizarre question that the NewScientist is asking this morning, as the outlet explores eternal damnation and the ways in which faith interacts with, complicates and impacts criminal activity.
The focus of the article is a new study from the University of Oregon in Eugen, which seems to show that there could be a correlation between belief in heaven and a forgiving God and…breaking the law.
Dr. Azim Shariff, a psychology professor, and his team looked at global data that highlights peoples’ beliefs about life after death and also looked at information collected by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. The massive examination included 143,000 individuals living in 67 nations. Obviously, such a massive sample enabled the team to include a diversity of religious backgrounds.
In most of the countries examined, it was more likely that people reported a belief in heaven than in hell. From this, the researchers were able to examine the intensity and degree to which each nation’s belief of heaven outpaced its acceptance of hell. The goal was to explore how differences in belief surrounding both post-mortem localities impact crime.
Interestingly, here’s what the researchers found: Even after controlling for crime-related issues like GDP, income inconsistencies, population density and life expectancy, national crime rates were higher when nations believe strongly in heaven but have weak acceptance of a hell.
“Belief in a benevolent, forgiving god could license people to think they can get away with things,” Shariff explains, but he cautions that this speculation is preliminary and that causation hasn’t yet been proven between religious beliefs and crime rates.


Ill. Supreme Court: Sex With 17-Year-Old Was Legal, Pictures Were Not

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (CBS) – In a case that highlights one of the unusual incongruities of state laws, the Illinois Supreme Court ruled Thursday that a downstate man didn’t commit a crime when he had sex with his 17-year-old girlfriend, but he did break the law when he took pictures of them in the act.
Marshall Hollins was arrested in downstate Freeport in March 2009, and charged with three counts of child pornography after photographing himself having sex with his 17-year-old girlfriend, but he was not charged with statutory rape, since the age of consent for sex in Illinois is 17. But, in Illinois, it is illegal to photograph anyone under the age of 18 engaged in a sexual act.


Election 2012: "A Nation at the Crossroads"