Monday, July 21, 2008, will be remembered as the day activist federal judges decided it was okay to force-feed pornography into the minds of elementary school children. The Third Circuit Court of Appeals threw out a righteous $550,000 fine imposed by the Federal Communications Commission, said fine levied against CBS for beaming pornography into the living rooms of 90 million innocent Americans.
As you must know, I’m referring to Janet Jackson’s right breast. Activist federal judges ruled on Monday that the FCC’s interpretation of their long-standing policy that bars broadcasters from airing “sexual or excretory organs or activities” between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m. — a policy designed to protect American children and American pregnant mothers — was, in this instance, applied in an arbitrary and capricious manner.
You remember the horror. As I wrote in 2004, “During Sunday’s Super Bowl halftime show, international superstar Janet Jackson and Name-Reminds-Me-of-Paper-Towels Justin Timberlake were performing a duet, singing and dancing to the haunting melody of ‘Rock Your Body.’ Justin crooned the closing line (‘I’m gonna have you naked by the end of this song’) then, apparently swept up by the moment and the animal tom-tom beat of the music, reached over and pulled off enough clothing from Ms. Jackson’s chest as to reveal Ms. Jackson’s right breast, although, in fairness, one must report that even in the breast’s naked state, the breast’s nipple was modestly covered by one of those adorable pieces of metal exotic show business professionals refer to as a nipple protector.”
Since then I’ve learned more details. Ms. Jackson’s right bosom was exposed for 9/16 of a second. Rounding up, that’s one second of breast exposure. A frightened nation turned to the Federal Communications Commission, then chaired by Michael Powell. The big man did not disappoint. Powell issued a press release that said, in part, “Like millions of Americans, my family and I gathered around the television for a celebration. Instead, that celebration was tainted by a classless, crass, and deplorable stunt. Our nation’s children, parents, and citizens deserve better.” The chairman ordered an investigation into Janet Jackson’s breast as well as the entire Super Bowl halftime show.
Americans were left to sit with the image of an exposed female breast, clearly visible for one second (rounding up) of a five-hour broadcast. The telecast also showed commercials featuring erectile dysfunction medications, a crotch-biting dog, a monkey attempting to seduce a human female, and a horse farting. I cannot stress enough that those commercials were not pornographic — they were bought and paid for by some of America’s most prestigious corporations.
One year passes. Another Super Bowl, another column. “Here’s the guts of it. Super Bowl XXXIX is hours away and Janet Jackson’s right breast is unaccounted for. I have warned the NFL by fax and by phone. I have called the Jacksonville police, the Jacksonville mayor’s office, the 125th Fighter Wing of the Florida Air National Guard, and finally, Jacksonville’s Prime F. Osborn III Convention Center, where 3500 members of the accredited media have gathered to watch a football game on convention-center TVs. I talked to a Latin man. He claimed to have no recollection of Ms. Jackson’s breast.
“A Google search of ‘Janet Jackson’ returned 173,000 pages. But, a Google search of ‘Janet Jackson, where is her right breast?’ returned zero pages.
“What this means to you. Ms. Jackson’s right breast is at large, possibly armed, its location and intent are unknown.
“I am prepared to work through the night on this. I needn’t remind you that this is the breast that brought America to her knees, launched congressional investigations, lawsuits, a rack of new federal laws, a walk-in closet of new FCC regulations. This is the breast that put live TV on a seven-second delay (Oscars, Grammys, NBC sports, Monday Night Football, et al.).
“Where is Janet Jackson’s breast today? Is it lurking in a Jacksonville bar or back alley, perhaps planning another attack, this time without a nipple guard?”
I can tell you now that Janet Jackson’s right breast kept a low profile during the Jacksonville Super Bowl — no reported assaults during the game or, for that matter, the festivities leading up to the game. Although there were many reported sightings of female breasts, not one could be linked directly to Janet Jackson. Strange.
Since then, Jackson’s breast has seemingly dropped off the side of the world. Waiting.
And now, just four years after America was recklessly assaulted by a deranged breast, the nation still recovering from its wound, our collective psychic scab just beginning to heal, three activist federal judges allowed that breast to walk free on a lousy “arbitrary and capricious” technicality.
Where do we go from here? Let me put it this way: do you really think that bosom is done with us? It’s not over until Janet Jackson’s breast says it’s over.