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Folks, the FCC Does Not Regulate Content on the Internet

Scott Kurtz picked up on this Heidi McDonald column over at the Pulse. Apparently Tony "Maakies" Millionaire said he was being harassed by several state attorneys general and the US Department of Justice. Millionaire explained:

One of the editors told me that it was from the Attorney General's office in the state in which the paper runs. He said he called and a woman on the phone told him that this was coming down all over from the Federal Attorney General, from Ashcroft's office. They're issuing warning letters to state Attorney General's offices who are cleaning up throughout their individual states. My guess is that these people consider the funny pages a safe haven for kids and that's why they'll come down harder on comics than on other print media.

Really who knows? Prosecutors have harassed people for stranger things. But some folks seem to have confused this with the Federal Communications Commisson (FCC). The FCC (unfortunately) is empowered to censor broadcast radio and television. That's it. The FCC does not concern itself with content on the Internet (or any part of the telecommunications system for that matter). So rest assured - the FCC may be busting Janet Jackson over her naked bust on television but the FCC won't bat an eye over your online comic of the same.

Re: Folks, the FCC Does Not Regulate Content on the Internet

On the face of it, the story doesn't seem very plausible. I can't believe that censors would go after one offensive word in the cornucopia of obscenity that is MAAKIES, when they've never hesitated before to demand the complete removal of a strip.

It would have been nice if Tony had been able to gather some concrete evidence. As it is, I really can't take this seriously. Though I may change my tune if three or four other cartoonists come forth with similar stories and more evidence to back it up.

Re: Folks, the FCC Does Not Regulate Content on the Internet

Greg Stephens's picture

I agree. We need more evidence before we rush to cry "censorship!" After all, it could easily be "editing" on the part of several papers who merely fear the wrath of a government agency (not an unreasonable fear, post-Janet Jackson), but have actually received no such notice, compaint or directive.

Re: Folks, the FCC Does Not Regulate Content on the Internet

Well, to be fair, Maakies is a syndicated print comic.
If (hypothetically) someone was going after a comic over "inappropriate" content, it'd be feasible that they'd go after a print comic before they go after anything on the internet. Seeing as internet comics are below alternative newspaper comics on the obscurity scale and all.

My guess is that the papers didn't specify the FCC in their complaints and Tony thought it'd be funny if he said "FCC" when mentioning the complaints because of recent controvercy issues.

Re: Folks, the FCC Does Not Regulate Content on the Internet

Oops! Correction: he did say "FCC" in his first post, but then made a second post correcting himself, saying it wasn't the FCC.
There doesn't seem to be an "edit post" option in the comics journal message board.

PLease, how Can i download.

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Re: Folks, the FCC Does Not Regulate Content on the Internet

Smells like a publicity stunt to me.

Seriously folks, think about it. Would Ashcroft (or any other cardboard villain) waste their time going after a cartoon monkey that says "*****" when there are so many websites out there that have some really, really nasty stuff on them? The whole thing makes no sense. Its probably either Millionaire trying to drum up some business, or one of his editors thought the strip sucked, and didn't want to tell him directly.