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Op-Ed: It’s time to forget about Janet Jackson’s nipple

Nipplegate continues to clog the U.S. judicial system. The Federal Communications Commission announced it will further investigate whether CBS’ “indecency violation” was willful. What’s with the FCC’s obsession with Janet Jackson’s boob?

We all remember that fateful half-second during the Super Bowl of 2004. Justin Timberlake was dancing alongside Janet Jackson, when an apparent “wardrobe malfunction” revealed Jackson’s nipple to the millions of CBS viewers. CBS received 582,000 complaints.

A $550,000 fine was slapped on the network, then it was revoked, then reinstated, and the FCC continues to be prowling for reasons why CBS allowed the glimpse of nudity to sully our pristine minds. In a brief to the Third Circuit Appeals, the FCC recently stated: “The evidence in this case strongly suggests that CBS had access to video delay technology at the time of the 2004 Super Bowl.”

Now the FCC is asking the court to remand the decision back to the commission so they can find out whether the violation was “willful.”

Essentially, the FCC wants to investigate if “CBS was reckless not to use video delay technology for this broadcast.”

Five years after the nipple flash, why is this still on the FCC radar? What urged the FCC to continue to battle CBS in an event everyone has already dismissed? This re-opening of the Nipplegate investigation is a prime display of wasted resources in the U.S. judicial system — money and time could be better spent on issues facing Americans today, not a half-second of nudity flashed five years ago.

But for some reason, American values can be oddly conservative. For all the Playboy mansions and panties-flashing celebrities, the U.S. still is in a-flutter when unexpected nudity flashes across prime time. While a fiery reaction is expected after the fact, couldn’t the powers that be simply rap CBS on the wrists with a sizeable fine and move on?

I’m sure the national scars have already healed from the Boob Almighty. I’m sure the CBS brass helming the Super Bowl telecast that fateful night are now working collecting EI checks. Just as Americans have moved on from Nipplegate, so must the FCC. Otherwise, the U.S. will be mired in a scandal that never was.

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