Like millions of Americans, I listen to Howard Stern on the radio in the mornings. I think he is smart, quick and funny. Sometimes he is ''offensive,'' but to be quite frank, I am not ''offended,'' because what he says falls within the realm of words and subjects that, as an adult, I have long been familiar with even without the tutelage of Stern. Unlike millions of Americans, I do not listen to Rush Limbaugh on the radio. One reason for that is that I am usually at the movies when he's on the air -- an alternative I urge on his listeners. Limbaugh does offend me when I monitor him, because he has cheapened political discourse in this country with his canned slogans and cheap shots. Once you call a feminist a ''feminazi,'' what else is there to say about feminism? Of course you may disagree with me and prefer Limbaugh. I may disagree with you and prefer Stern. That is our right as Americans. What offends me is that the right wing, secure in its own right to offend, now wants to punish Stern to the point where he may be forced off the air. The big difference, of course, is that Stern's offenses usually have to do with sex and language, while Limbaugh's have to do with politics. Stern offends the puritan right, which doesn't seem to respect the American tradition of freedom of expression. You don't have to listen to Stern. Exercising the same freedom, I am Limbaugh-free. And please don't tell me that Stern must be fined and driven off the radio because he uses the ''public airwaves.'' If they are public, then his listeners are the public, and we want to listen to him on our airwaves. The public airwaves cannot be held hostage to a small segment that wants to decide what the rest of us can hear -- especially now that President Bush supports consolidating more and more media outlets into a few rich hands. But what if a child should tune in? Call me old-fashioned, but I believe it is the responsibility of parents to control their children's media input. The entire nation cannot be held hostage so that everything on the radio is suitable for 9-year-olds. Nor do I know of any children who want to listen to Stern, anyway; they prefer music. It is a belief of mine about the movies, that what makes them good or bad isn't what they're about, but how they're about them. The point is not the subject but the form and purpose of its expression. A listener to Stern will find that he expresses humanistic values, that he opposes hypocrisy, that he talks honestly about what a great many Americans do indeed think and say and do. A Limbaugh listener, on the other hand, might not have guessed from campaigns to throw the book at drug addicts that he was addicted to drugs and required an employee to buy them on the street. But listen carefully. I support Limbaugh's right to be on the radio. I feel it is fully equal to Stern's. I find it strange that so many Americans describe themselves as patriotic when their values are anti-democratic and totalitarian. We are all familiar with Voltaire's great cry: ''I may disagree with what you say, but I shall defend, to the death, your right to say it.'' Ideas like his helped form the emerging American republic. Today, the Federal Communications Commission operates under an alternative slogan: ''Since a minority that is very important to this administration disagrees with what you say, shut up.'' Copyright © Chicago Sun-Times Inc.
FCC ready to hit Stern again
To Infinity and beyond; newspaper report says FCC will fine Viacom radio unit $1.5M for Stern show. April 16, 2004: 10:14 AM EDT
NEW YORK (CNN/Money) - The FCC could announce a new $1.5 million fine involving radio personality Howard Stern as soon as next week, according to a published report.
Howard Stern could end up costing his employer Infinity Broadcasting $1.5 million in FCC fines, according to a published report. The New York Post reported the fine will be against Stern's employer, Infinity Broadcasting, a unit of Viacom...