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Free Expression

Unhappy Birthday Pacifica, The Huffington Post, July 2, 2008

This week marks the 30th anniversary of the day the U.S. Supreme Court built its indecency house upon the sand. That day, in FCC v. Pacifica Foundation, the court’s fractured 5-4 decision ruled that the FCC was justified in its role as arbiter of "indecency " when it came to deciding what was broadcast on public airwaves during the daytime and early evening hours.

The late George Carlin’s famous "Seven Dirty Words" monologue was the fuel for Pacifica. Today, the media landscape barely resembles that of the late ’70s, but the so-called "pervasiveness" concept arising from Pacifica — the idea that broadcasting is an unstoppable "intruder" in the home — lives on.