Dropping the F-bomb on Sesame Street?
Filed under: In The News
(Click Big Bird's photo to see some Famous TV F-Bombs)
What is it about swearing that is just so hilariously funny? Because it is funny, you know. At least, that's what one Supreme Court Justice said last week, when considering a case regarding obscene language on television.
The case in question was prompted by an increase in foul words uttered during live television broadcasts, and the Federal Communications Commission's role in regulating such "fleeting expletives." Remember Bono's famous slip-up?
Justice John Paul Stevens joked that the standard of judgment for such slip-ups should be the funny factor. He posed the question if is ever reasonable to consider "whether the particular remark was really hilarious -- very, very funny?"
In all seriousness, the question of regulating salty language on TV gets to a core value of American society -- the right to free speech. No one wants to hear Big Bird dropping the F-bomb, as the New York Times put it, but when is it appropriate to broadcast the "seven dirty words?"
Famous TV Foul-Ups(click thumbnails to view gallery)
Or is it ever?
Lawyers for the FCC pointed out that viewers who find such expletives funny could tune into any cable station or website to get a healthy dose of dirty words. Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. appeared to agree, stating that words with sexual or scatological connotations are, by nature, forceful words, meant to shock.
Justice Antonin Scalia concurred, and said that's why folks prefer the F-bomb to "gollywaddles."
I don't know -- gollywaddles has a certain je ne sais quoi, don't you think?
The case has yet to be decided, and the court may not limit it's scope to the narrow field of assessing the commission's actions, but may also investigate the issue of whether regulation of indecent speech on pubic airwaves can and should be justified in light of the First Amendment.
I agree with Justice Stevens -- swearing can be hilariously funny, as long as it isn't used as hate speech. But I'm not so sure I want my daughter to hear Steve from "Blue's Clues" using the F-word. How about you?
|Yes, absolutely, swearing is disgusting and crude||3563 (52.3%)|
|No way, the F-bomb is hilariously funny!||1159 (17.0%)|
|It depends - we want to be careful not to trample the First Amendment||2094 (30.7%)|
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