Mighty Red Pen

November 21, 2006

When is a curse word not a curse word?

Filed under: Pop culture,Word wars — mighty red pen @ 7:30 pm

Evidently, when the FCC says it is . . . I mean, isn’t.

A couple of weeks ago (okay, so MRP isn’t totally on top of this one), the FCC ruled on some pending cases regarding the use of curse words. It upheld two cases and dismissed two.

As someone who thought that most people missed the actual problem with the infamous wardrobe malfunction (Justin Timberlake bearing a fraction of the backlash Janet J. received), MRP is interested to see where this goes. What interests MRP about this are two things: one is I was brought up to think these words were ALL indecent so what makes some curse words okay and others not? Two, the two cases still considered indecent regard the use of the f-word, which is apparently controversial. A 1993 case resulted in the FCC deciding that, where the f-word is concerned, context matters. In 1994, they reversed themselves to say that the f-word is always indecent.

It amuses MRP to imagine the stuffed shirts at the FCC parsing the meaning of the f-word, though.



  1. The fines the FCC issue are way out of line and border on extortion. I grew up watching shows like Benny Hill with my grandmother (seriously) and it never really struck me as wrong. I still don’t get what the deal was with a half second boob flash, if it wasn’t planned why didn’t Justin offer his coat to Janet?

    I find what is aired on daytime talk shows, including the likes of “Dr.” Phil far more indecent than the random cuss word aired during a live telecast.

    Comment by The Mole — November 21, 2006 @ 9:48 pm | Reply

  2. You can never be too careful. We grew up with the simple rule that no word ending in “-uck” was to be uttered in the house. Sure, it made for an interesting time explaining why the bird swimming in the pond (duck) had such good fortune (luck) not to be shot with small pellets (buckshot) by a passing commercial vehicle with flat bed (truck), but we were better off as a result.

    As for the group that filed these complaints — the Parents Television Council, a Los Angeles-based watchdog group. Shouldn’t they be outside playing with their kids instead of watching tv?

    Comment by Deb Goldberg — November 22, 2006 @ 8:15 pm | Reply

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