Saturday, May 22, 2004

At last watched something worthwhile [*] on CNN: a show about Howard Stern and how his indecent utterances in his talk show were offending sensibilities. Pretty balanced reporting. One interesting thing I learned was that he cannot play a taping of an Oprah Winfrey show on air because he would be violating some rules, whereas that same Oprah show was allowed to air without any problems. Huh?

Question: If a regulatory body wants to ban some content, say a list of 'dirty' words, how would it convey this ban? Can it broadcast an announcement saying 'The following words are banned:...' and read out the list? Wouldn't that be offensive in itself? Or should it refer to the words indirectly (e.g. '...the four-letter word that starts with 'F', and ends with 'K', denoting the act of mating...')? But one can argue that unless one is told explicitly what words not to use, it is not correct to say that some rule is being violated. I think we are in self-referencing-systems territory here.

[*] whoops, spoke too soon; the very next program is live coverage of Spain's crown prince's wedding to some media celebrity.