The Brady Bunch: Tom Brady Accused Of FCC Violation For Silent F-Bombs

240px-Tom_Brady_2011fcc-seal_rgb-largeMany of us watching the Patriots-Packers game so Tom Brady throwing a fit on the sideline after a bad play. He clearly was saying “f–k” over and over again but there was no audio. Those silent F-bombs however are now the basis for a series of complaints to the Federal Communications Commission from people who said that they, even if they could not hear what he said, they knew what he said and were left shocked and angry. It creates an interesting basis for a FCC: the silent F-Bomb. It is almost a Zen-like Administrative Law question: Little Grasshopper, if a silent F-bomb explodes on a sidelines and no one is around to hear it, did it make a legal sound?

Brady, 37, is the subject of three indecency complaints, including one from an Indianapolis parent wrote that their “6 year old children know how to read lips even if there is no sound.” Another complaint from a Pennsylvania grandparent reported that, “My 8 year old grandson was watching the game with me and even commented that he should not have said that.” That grandparent objected that the network kept the camera on Brady when he was swearing. Frankly, I do not believe that this was a good thing for a NFL QB to be doing. However, he was not swearing at someone else or into a camera. He was showing emotion at a point of the game where he thought it was slipping away (he was right). As someone with a team with a QB with the passionate expression of a mortician, it was a change.

The FCC states the standard for obscenity on its website:

Obscene material is not protected by the First Amendment to the Constitution and cannot be broadcast at any time. The Supreme Court has established that, to be obscene, material must meet a three-pronged test:

An average person, applying contemporary community standards, must find that the material, as a whole, appeals to the prurient interest;

The material must depict or describe, in a patently offensive way, sexual conduct specifically defined by applicable law; and

The material, taken as a whole, must lack serious literary, artistic, political or scientific value.

I am not sure that an average person would find that this appeals to the prurient interest. It is interesting that the list of value does not include social value. For sports fans, the scene probably did have value in understanding Brady’s feelings at a critical point of a major game.

There is also the indecency standard:

The FCC has defined broadcast indecency as

“language or material that, in context, depicts or describes, in terms patently offensive as measured by contemporary community standards for the broadcast medium, sexual or excretory organs or activities.” Indecent programming contains patently offensive sexual or excretory material that does not rise to the level of obscenity.

Mouthing words does not really “depict” sexual activities in my view.

However, the FCC stresses the following: “The FCC staff must analyze what was actually aired, the meaning of what was aired and the context in which it was aired.”

I do think silent F-bombs meet that standard, but what do you think?

By the way, I truly hate the FCC seal which is not only strikingly unattractive but looks like the American Eagle is just another bird being electrocuted by high-power wires. Now that is indecent.


Source: Smoking Gun

46 thoughts on “The Brady Bunch: Tom Brady Accused Of FCC Violation For Silent F-Bombs”

  1. Nick – you need to look at the films of Fred Wiseman. He leaves his cinematographers around so long they become part of the background and then he gets ‘natural’ shots of people. The mind blocks out things that are not going to hurt you. If the camera is not going to hurt you, at a certain point you no longer care about it.
    He can claim he is ADD. They do this sort of stuff all the time. To think it is to say it. There is no social filter. There is a retired professional quarterback who is ADD. Think he is a sportscaster now.
    Personally, I blame it all on Hollywood and cable TV. Have you ever watched an episode of Deadwood. The FCC would have vapors during the opening credits.

  2. @ hinky

    Good point. If these little children already know what an F bomb is and what it means, I don’t think that we can blame Brady.

    A closer look a their parenting and who the children are associating with and their home environment would likely be in order.

    When my child was about 1 year old, I had to constantly remind our friends, who were mostly young and childless, to please not swear in our home. For most it was an unthinking reflexive use of the word. Just an adjective. Nevertheless. I sure didn’t want my toddler dropping F bombs.

  3. Think about when the FCC and its seal were created. The seal is a great example of art deco style.

  4. LOL. The bird does look like it is being electrocuted.

    These people now in charge were the ones who were enthralled by Country Joe and the Fish back in the Vietnam protest days.

    Link de-linked….I hope……. Don’t want anyone to faint now would we. NSFW


  5. The Smoking Gun filed an FOIA request to the FCC to obtain three complaints regarding the Brady “f” outbursts. Apparently, someone at Smoking Gun saw the incident and anticipated someone would complain to the FCC. There is no indication in the Smoking Gun article that the FCC has done anything regarding the complaints. Hopefully, these will fall into a bureaucratic black hole and will not be heard of again. It is interesting that the three complaints referred to 6-year old, 8-year old and 10-year old watchers who may have been offended. They seemingly knew what the word meant.

    Maybe they view daytime reruns of the Daily Show and see Jon Stewart mouth the word in question multiple times per show. Or maybe their homes also receive HBO and can hear the word spoken in all its glory. Or perhaps they just listen to family conversations in which the word is used.

    There is a “documentary” regarding the word available on dvd, the title of which is the word. Part of the film relates to the FCC past regulation of the word and is hilarious. Note that the film (available from Amazon) emphatically points out the word is not an acronym for Fornication Under Command of the King.

  6. Well, that FCC seal is egregious. Not that anyone else besides me really cares. But, I agree. Slash the FCC budget, and move on down the list… CIA, NSA, NED… slash, slash, slash! We don’t need a ton of people on the government payroll making up problems to get paid to fix.

  7. Pogo, LOL! I sometimes do a profane laced Tourette’s act when in a situation that calls for some profanity. I NEVER swear around kids.

  8. I know, from my 2 plus years here, that JT and myself are time zones apart in the profanity dept. I saw this live. Brady is pretty sharp. Since I have videotaped people clandestinely for decades, I can always tell when a person is aware of a camera. Brady was VERY aware of the camera. When they’re aware of my camera, I leave. I don’t want to film an act, I want reality. And, as I have told my kids who like “reality” shows, it isn’t reality if the person knows the camera is present, it’s just very bad acting. So, my observation would lend credence to this being a violation. Well, I think this whole profanity issue, @ least as it involves live sports, is horseshit. Brady knew the camera was there, but the emotion was real. I think what his camera awareness did was make him say it more than once. I think he was showing, as JT alluded to, that he was the anti Jay Cutler. Brady is a great QB. He is also very media savvy. The Patriots take their lead from their iconoclastic coach, Bill Belichick. He hates the media and probably loved this display of real emotion and thumbing the nose @ an intrusive camera.

  9. Oh, and while you are at it you can start planning on sending sonnyboy Floyd off to the army, marines, navy or airforce rather than paying for his college. Save some money and be a patriot. Make the world safe for demography. Vote for Bushell3 when it comes up in 16!

    There is no sense in voting for a gallon of itShay when you have a choice, not an echo of voting for a bushel of itShay.

  10. Jeb Bush was interviewed by a compliant person on television last night. He was fair and well balanced in addressing many issues, even welfare entitlement. Finally they got to world security and things such as ISIS. What he uttered boiled down to : the world is unsafe an no other country can curb the bad guys and we are going to continue to do it but it is good for the middle class here jobwise. Regarding the topic here and the f word. This Jeb guy is going to be known as Bushell3. At first I thought that Bushie3 was appropriate until I heard that Bushell of itShay about our role in the world and our dedication to war. War today, War tomorrow, War Forever! Years from now people will shake their heads and wonder where the Bushell3 term came from. This will be after his second term. Few will recall that it was from a dog barkin into a Dogalogue Machine on a Wednesday morning right before Xmas time on a boardwalk in a remote marina.


  11. FCC has no business regulating speech. It is Unconstitutional to begin with.

    We have a great problem in that we allowed the Federalists to get away with far too much since 1791.

  12. Will these people be writing their Congress member about being SHOCKED AND ANGRY about torture or corporate welfare? I doubt it. how can such tender flowers stand football in the first place? The FCC needs to spend its time protecting the Internet and leave this one alone!

  13. Nonsense. It should be the station that is fined for keeping the camera on Brady for an extended period of time. The camera sought Brady after all. Being emotional on a football field is part of the game. I thought Brady mouthed his displeasure artfully.

    America is a weird place. Torture? Supported by most Americans. Unjust wars? Supported by most Americans. Death penalty? Supported by most Americans. Mouthing colorful language? Oh! MY! God!!!! We must punish the perpetrator with fines and potential jail time!!!!

  14. i have a hard time believing that Tom Brady is the only football player that swears on the sidelines. I am also curious as to whether NBC and CBS would be responsible because they televised it and also kept the camera on Tom for a long time. I will confess that I am not very objective in this matter because Tom Brady is my hero. GO PATRIOTS!!

  15. He wasn’t mad, he was thinking about his to do list for after the game. He is married to Gisele don’t forget.

    This FCC complaint is an invasion of his privacy.

  16. “The material, taken as a whole, must lack serious literary, artistic, political or scientific value.”

    So if Brady were not really feeling it, the display might have artistic merit as the depiction of an aging athlete experiencing the agony of defeat. But if the display was spontaneous and Brady was emotionally involved then it is obscene?

    What next, how many Bradys can dance on the chalk line without going out of bounds?

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