Home / General / Consistency



I’m all for the FCC being completely fine with David Ortiz saying “fuck” in his speech before the Red Sox game yesterday. On the other hand, it would be nice if the FCC would more generally assume people are grown-ups and allow the language used in everyday life to be part of mass media on a more general basis. I’m not sure that reserving the word for political occasions where the agency’s head deems it appropriate has much value.

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google+
  • Linkedin
  • Pinterest
  • Jon H

    “if the FCC would more generally assume people are grown-ups”

    Except not all people are grown-ups.

    I’m all for the FCC keeping in tune with changing cultural mores, but the sticking point is going to be people concerned about the cheeeeldreeeen.

    • And you never know when it’s going to be necessary to step in and end Janet Jackson’s career.

      • Ken

        That is not dead which can eternal lie…

      • Jon H

        That was slightly different as that was probably dreamed up in some MTV executive’s office rather than being a spontaneous, uh, ejaculation. (And it was really awkwardly done, too.)

        It wasn’t a big deal, and I wouldn’t have wanted Jackson to get fined, but I think there’s some justification for slapping the producers responsible with some kind of fine to discourage such calculated assholery.

        (As for her career… arguably she went along with it because her career was already in decline and someone persuaded her that she needed some controversy for a boost… only it didn’t work, probably because it was so ham-handed. Maybe if she had torn off her own pasties it would have been more effective.)

    • howard

      speaking as the father of an 8.75-year-old, we don’t actually watch much tv at our house and i’m not going to get the vapors over some infrequent and accidental exposure to expletive-deleted language.

      what concerns me much more is that i don’t want to cut the lad off from listening to the popular music of the day, but there, in a lot of hiphop and dance pop that is omnipresent, the heavy-duty exposure can be a bit much so we’re torn….

    • Lego My Eggo

      Most kids swear like drunken sailors when there are no adults around.

      Adding, bans against profanity are also driven by extremely sexist notions of how men should talk in the presence of “ladies”.

      • I’ve always found that fucking hilarious.

      • Jon H

        “Most kids swear like drunken sailors when there are no adults around.”

        Maybe not 8 and below, most of the time.

        • Origami Isopod

          They’re warming up with “poop” and “pee” and “fart.”

          • John F

            My younger one is almost 4, and lately he uses at least one of those 3 words in every sentence, he thinks it’s hysterical

    • the original spencer

      Are there any actual kids who’ve never heard the word “fuck?”

      • Jon H

        Probably not. I’m not saying “censor to protect the cheeeldren”. I’m saying that “the cheeeldren” will be the reason cited for censorship.

  • jeer9

    With the Sox off to a 12 – 5 start, there’s a whole lotta people in Boston saying fuck and it has nothing to do with Chechens.

  • TizzyCalifornia

    I find it ironic that the UK, even with their restrictive free speech standards, allow people to curse on TV while we can’t, even though we practically worship the First Amendment.

    • DocAmazing

      Well, you can’t spell “fuck” without “UK”.

    • Jon H

      I think they still frown on spicy language earlier than the “watershed”, the time after which shows don’t have to be “child-safe”.

  • LittlePig

    Good grief! Sanity briefly broke out. Talk about your silver linings.

  • Murc

    This is going to sound overly libertarian of me, but I kinda feel like the feds shouldn’t be regulating content at all. The FCCs role should be allocating spectrum according to a set of neutral guidelines and that’s it.

    People can say whatever they want on paper. They can say whatever they want on the phone, or over radio. (Assuming they stick to publicly available spectrum.) I’ve never seen a convincing practical or moral argument that the broadcast spectrum should be any different. Yeah, at one point it was true that there wasn’t a whole lot of spectrum and as a scarce resource it needed to be managed for the general public use. Given the presence of cable and the fact that very soon networks may in fact cease to actually USE the broadcast spectrum, the scarcity argument no longer holds water for me.

    • tonycpsu

      +1. Selective enforcement is a bad thing when it comes to The War On (Some Classes of People Who Use Some) Drugs, and it’s no better here. Of course this is the kind of burdensome regulation many GOP mouth-breathers would defend vigorously, since nobody wants their kids to accidentally hear the word “fuck” while they’re watching cops empty their clips into a bad guy.

      • efgoldman

        I grew up in the Army. I knew the seven words before I ever heard of (Saint) George Carlin. Hell, from driving around with mrs efgoldman, daughter knew the words (and when not to use them) before she started school.
        OTOH, I was on the radio for ~20 years, late 70s into early 90s, and every time I hear an obscenity, for instance, in an HBO movie I flinch out of long conditioning.

    • Scott Lemieux

      No, you’re right. At best, in the age of cable the rule is an anachronism.

    • Just Dropping By

      They can say whatever they want on the phone, or over radio.

      Actually the FCC can regulate the use of obscenities on radio. The principle modern Supreme Court decision concerning content regulation of broadcasting in fact relates to radio: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Federal_Communications_Commission_v._Pacifica_Foundation

      • Murc

        Which is, of course, why I inserted the qualifier “assuming they stick to publicly available spectrum.”

        I can hop on the citizens band and swear up a storm no problem.

        • Just Dropping By

          Sorry, I misread your parenthetical qualifier as meaning ordinary radio broadcasts (since those are often referred to as “the public airwaves,” etc.).

  • Total

    Oh, for fuck’s sake, shut up. There are useful comments on world affairs and then there’s this one.

    • Ha ha, arbitrarily enforced federal regulations are totally meaningless!!!

      • rea

        Although I can see distinctions:
        (1) Between usings “fuck” in a script and saying it spontaneously and live.
        (2) Between how you expect professional broadcasters to behave and what happens when you put ordinarily people on live TV.

        • RedSquareBear

          So… if it causes restraint of artistic process it’s to be banned, but if it just sort of slips out it’s a-ok?

    • the original spencer

      Is this directed at your own comment or at Erik’s post?

      • ChrisTS


  • c u n d gulag

    The TV and radio networks ban “bad” language, because they’re weary of quivering “Quiver-full” Mom’s and Dad’s, calling them, and saying, “What the fuck was that I just just fucking heard on your fucking show? Have some fucking respect for me and my fucking Christian children, you stupid, heathen fucks!!!”

    Ok, so maybe not ALL of them curse.
    Maybe even none of them do.
    But, they DO call!

    One wonders what expletive Christian Dad shouts when the kid accidentally kicks him with his foot in his “quiver,” or bangs his thumb with his hammer, or quivering “Quiver-full” Mom does, when her precious wedding ring goes down the bathroom sink, or she discovers she left the plastic-wrapped innards inside the baked-chicken.

    After all, ‘JESUS CHRIST!’ doesn’t like his name being used in vain.
    And 4-letter words are out!
    Do they sound like Yosemite Sam?

    • Just Dropping By

      You do realize that people might prefer not to listen to obscenities even if they aren’t Christian, right?

      • Origami Isopod

        So what? There are a lot of things I don’t care to listen to on radio and TV, from hate radio to inane advertising, but other than turning the knob off I don’t get a choice. Why are the delicate sensibilities of pearl-clutchers given priority here?

        • UserGoogol

          It shouldn’t, (well maybe JDB disagrees) but that’s no excuse for misrepresenting them as religious stereotypes when that’s not really what they are. It gives you a false understanding of the situation, and even on strictly rhetorical grounds, when you mock people like that you’re not really going to persuade anybody.

          • Origami Isopod

            but that’s no excuse for misrepresenting them as religious stereotypes when that’s not really what they are.

            I read JDB as implying that the strictures are valid outside of religious belief, and that’s what I was responding to.

            In any case, it can be argued that objection to profanity in the U.S. most definitely correlates with religious conservatism, even if not all who object to it are Christians.

            when you mock people like that you’re not really going to persuade anybody.

            This is untrue. Mockery is a time-honored political weapon.

  • Joe

    Howie Rose (PUT IT IN THE BOOKS!!!!!) was quite pissed off at him saying it in front of children. Maybe, he was a bit too schoolmarmish about it (not to stereotype) but fine. I think kids can handle a ‘fuck,’ there, but it was a tad rude of him. You generally don’t curse in front of eight year olds.

    The FCC shouldn’t get involved though. Bad taste shouldn’t lead to fines. They should be consistent about that. But, if the stupid policy is going to be there, it being “fleeting” or not totally gratuitous is going to matter in enforcement.

    • Joe

      at least eight year olds you don’t know

It is main inner container footer text