incomprehensible shock jocks

The difficulty of interpreting intent in materials published in a different language and cultural context was one of the interesting facets of the case of the Fuengirola imam, convicted of publishing with malicious intent a manual on how to beat women without leaving scars. It’s not going to get any easier here once radio and TV here cease to be the semi-exclusive preserve of the friends of the major political parties. For, as the Miami Herald reports, it’s difficult enough for Anglo officialdom in Florida to keep up with Spanish-language broadcasters:

Of the 20 investigators in the FCC’s obscenity enforcement bureau, only one speaks Spanish, officials at the commission say. So when complaints about Spanish radio come in, they are farmed out to a private company that turns the tapes into English transcripts, which are then reviewed by FCC staff.

One of the problems with this process is that there is no monolithic Hispanic community by which to judge material:

”Some of the vulgar words for private parts in one country are innocuous in another,” said Miguel Centeno, director of Princeton University’s Institute of International and Regional Studies. “Take the verb coger. Say that in Cuba and it’s fine. Say it in Argentina, and people will look at you like you’ve just committed murder.”

The article cites a low level of awareness re state regulation among the public as one reason for the low level of complaints re Spanish-language broadcasting. And that’s something the broadcasters have taken on board:

Enrique Santos, co-host of the El Vacilón [The Joker] program, which reaches 50,300 listeners between the ages of 18 and 34, … says he feels less pressure from the FCC because his show is in Spanish. ”When it’s 2 a.m. and you’re leaving a club and hop on I-95 and you don’t see any cars or troopers,” he says. “Aren’t you going to be tempted to go fast?”

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