The PJ Tatler

FCC: Hail to the Redskins

Washington Redskins fans can relax for now: the word “Redskins” is okay:

The Federal Communications Commission on Thursday ruled the name “Redskins” is not profane or obscene. In a formal ruling, the commission rejected calls to yank the broadcast license of a radio station owned by Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder for excessively using the team’s name, which some find offensive.

George Washington University professor John Banzhaf filed a petition in September opposing the license renewal of the D.C. station, WWXX-FM.

In case you’re wondering who John Banzhaf is, take a look at his website:

Prof. John Banzhaf has been called the “Ralph Nader of the Tobacco Industry,” “One of America’s Premier Legal Activists,” “An Unsung American Hero.” “The Man Behind the Ban on Cigarette Commercials,” “the Ralph Nader of Junk Food,” “The Man Who Is Taking Fat to Court” [for using legal action to fight OBESITY], “Mr. Anti-Smoking,” “One of the Most Vocal and Effective Anti-Tobacco Attorneys,” a “Radical Feminist,” a “Man Who Lives by his Writs,” the “Father of Potty Parity,” “the Area’s Best-Known ‘Radical’ Law Professor,” ” Legal Academia’s Instigator in Chief,” One of the World’s Top “Game Theorists,” and an “Entrepreneur of Litigation, [and] a Trial Lawyer’s Trial Lawyer.”

He’s also been called — by his enemies — a “Legal Terrorist”,” the “Osama bin Laden of Torts,” a “Legal Bomb-Thrower,” and a “Legal Flamethrower,” and he has frequently been attacked on web sites (which are often inaccurate) [see, e.g., BanzhafWatch.com] by those who opposed his activities; clear indications, he says, that his many targets fear him and his legal actions.

The FCC bounced Banzhaf’s complaint on First Amendment grounds:

The commission cited the First Amendment, saying it does not withhold licenses based on a subjective view of what is appropriate programming. It noted that some racial or religious slurs are offensive to many, but it has previously declined “extending the bounds of profanity to reach such language given constitutional considerations.”

“Indeed, the Commission has held that ‘if there is to be free speech, it must be free for speech that we abhor and hate as well as for speech that we find tolerable and congenial,'” according to the commission. The commission rejected a number of complaints lodged by Banzhaf and noted that his petition was issued nearly three years too late to be considered.

But don’t worry: there are plenty of other folks, including the Senate Democratic Caucus, who will keep up the pressure until they get their way. Such is life in a “fundamentally transformed” America.