Solveig Singleton, in a new report for the Independent Women’s Forum, says government regulation of media content is a bad idea, concerns about indecency notwithstanding. Among the important points she makes:

Parents today have many tools for making sure material they find objectionable does not reach their kids.

Government regulation of content is unlikely to influence personal behavior significantly:

Public policy makers often make decisions based on individuals who are at risk and who are likely to benefit from government intervention. But would a kid who is at risk because of absent or uninvolved parents benefit from a top-down approach to media regulation? It is highly unlikely; media consumption is a relatively small factor in determining an individual’s life outcome, and entertainment programming is only part of the media.

Treating the entire country as if it were a dysfunctional family on the off chance of having a minimal impact on a minimal number of youngsters is a dangerous direction for our republic. There are many better ways to help at-risk kids, starting with school vouchers to improve the quality of educational opportunities and to bring safer schools and better role models within kids’ reach.

The Federal Communications Commission acknowledges that it cannot define indecency once and for all. Yet, it is contrary to historical experience to expect that regulators would not abuse the power to decide on a case-by-case basis what is indecent:

Presidents Nixon and Kennedy both ordered crackdowns on radio stations critical of their policies under the now defunct “Fairness Doctrine.” How far could newspapers have pursued their aggressive reporting on the Watergate scandal if there had been “public interest” controls on the print media?