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Back Stage welcomes letters on performing arts issues. All letters should run no more than 250 words, include the writer's address and phone number, and are subject to editing.

Against the Glib

I am offended by the title to Roger Armbrust's story ["AFTRA Soils Federal Decency Bill"] on the proposed federal "decency" bill.

AFTRA has been virtually alone in raising objections to this historically bad piece of election-year legislation. This bill represents a fundamental and chilling change to FCC regulations by shifting standards and practices off employers and onto individuals. It would choose as the real targets of sanction individual talent, not the stations, broadcast parent, or broadcast license holder—the real decision makers of programming and content. Fines against talent for the first offenses would increase fifty-fold, to $500,000, without regard to an individual's ability to pay. And while it is easy to demagogue what you currently hear and see (Howard Stern and "Bubba the Love Sponge" are easy targets in an election year), the real danger is in what this bill will cause you not to see and not to hear. Don't allow yourself the luxury of thinking this is just about a naked breast and a couple choice swear words.

Precisely how AFTRA's informed, principled, and almost solitary opposition "soils" this defective legislation should be the subject of Mr. Armbrust's next article. But, if you ask me, what is genuinely indecent here is this attack on free speech and the public's indifference to it. Mr. Armbrust ought to be applauding AFTRA's effort and thankful someone is leading the charge to protect his right to write without fear, even when it is glib and misleading headlines.

Ed Fry

Proud AFTRA Member

Katonah, NY

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