The nipple that shocked a nation had its final day in court earlier today, as a three judge panel in federal appeals court tossed out the $550,000 Federal Communications Commission (FCC) fine leveled at CBS Corp. over the infamous “nipplegate” episode involving Janet Jackson, Justin Timberlake, and their halftime performance during the 2004 NFL Superbowl broadcast.
During the incident, viewed by some 90 million people watching during the nationally televised broadcast, but actually seen by few due to the “blink and you missed it” quickness of the episode, Timberlake grabbed Jackson’s breast and ripped off her bustier, exposing said boob for all of the world to see.
Although the nipple was actually covered by a star shaped object, and the entire thing was over before anyone really had a chance to notice, millions were eventually still able to catch a glimpse (by choice) of the offending boob thanks to the internet, and especially YouTube.
All parties involved have long since pleaded their innocence, forever introducing the words “wardrobe malfunction” into the national lexicon in the process of doing so. The rest is of course history, as the usual "battle for the moral values of a nation" sort of hysteria and hilarity ensued.
As reported today by Billboard magazine, the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals wrote the final chapter of “Nipplegate,” ruling that the Federal Communications Commission "acted arbitrarily and capriciously" in issuing the fine over the deeply disturbing image of the naked, star covered boob.
In ruling so, the three judge panel added that the fine represented a change in long standing policy of handing down such fines only when the indecency was considered so "pervasive as to amount to 'shock treatment' for the audience."
"Like any agency, the FCC may change its policies without judicial second-guessing," the court said. "But it cannot change a well-established course of action without supplying notice of and a reasoned explanation for its policy departure."