Should Cheney be Fined $275,000?
Vice President Dick Cheney shouted “go fuck yourself!” at inoffensive Senator Patrick Leahy, Democrat of Vermont, at a photo opportunity on the Senate floor earlier this week. On Friday he told Fox Cable News, “I expressed myself rather forcefully, felt better after I had done it.”
Now, it seems to me that the Senate floor is public space, paid for by the public. And in this regard, there is no difference between it and the public airwaves, which the public also owns.
We know what the Republicans in the Senate think about the use of obscenities on the airwaves. The Federal Communications Commission under the chairmanship of Michael Powell, son of the secretary of state, has waged a campaign of harassment and persecution against broadcasters who use colorful language on the airwaves, especially Howard Stern. Clear Channel dropped Stern and had to pay $1.75 million in fines for his and other infractions. The Republican-controlled Senate even attached a rider to a defense bill (!) raising the fine for a single infraction from $27,500 to $275,000. What I take away from all this is that the Republicans in the Senate are against using the word “fuck” in public spaces of discourse, owned by the public.
Personally, I think people who don’t want to hear Howard Stern should change the channel. The one thing Reagan was right about is that there are areas where we should get the Federal government off our backs. Speaking as we please is one of them, and Jefferson and Madison thought so, too. If the Powell FCC is going to take public ownership of the airwaves so seriously, then it should restore them to us and take them away from the corporations to whom it is has given them away for practically nothing. They used at least to offer us something like real news in return for this gift, worth trillions, but now some of them take our airwaves and use them to feed us propaganda by persons dressed like news anchors but who are actually professional spinmeisters.
Howard Stern no doubt feels better when he gets some blue language off his chest, too. So I propose that Mr. Cheney be made to pay $275,000 for fouling the air of the Senate in the way that he did. Should he feel the need to feel good again, he should be aware that the second offense in the Senate bill costs $500,000.
And, I propose that the fine go to vocational training for the disadvantaged people that Cheney has made a career of stomping all over.