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Hezbollah Is Poopy!
Liked the rant over at Reason by Jeff Jarvis about Bush letting the shit fly when he was talking to Tony Blair about Hezbollah; as in, Syria should tell Hezbollah to "stop doing this shit." I posted on July 17:

Do you think the FCC will try to fine him and CNN thousands or hundreds of thousands of dollars for use of "profane" language?

Jarvis writes:

Oh, if only every broadcast outlet in America had let that little s-bomb onto the air, unbleeped. The so-called Parents Television Council could have unleashed its barrage of computerized complaint. The Federal Communications Commission would have fined each station $325,000, per the legislation just signed by the Cusser in Chief. At last we would have had a meaty court challenge to indecency law and the FCC’s inconsistent enforcement of it—an opportunity to stand up for the First Amendment against the cynical political prudery of both parties, the overblown influence of religious pressure groups, and the censorship of the FCC.

This spring, the FCC declared s-words, like f-words before them, to be a step beyond merely “indecent.” Now they are “profane.” That means that these “most offensive words in the English language” will “provoke violent resentment,” and that uttering them on the public airwaves is as good as guaranteed to be punished.

The commissioners crossed a line there. For as the president himself demonstrated, shit and its variants are political speech. If Bush had told Tony Blair at the G-8 meeting that Syria needed to get Hezbollah to stop this “humbug” or this “no-no,” it would have lost impact. How can you talk politics without these words? Isn’t calling bullshit on politicians the essence of free speech and reason in a democracy?

And so the FCC now censors and chills political speech—even that of the president, for most broadcast outlets did choose to bleep him for fear of fines. Mind you, the commission does recognize some constitutionally protected speech. That is why it has not ruled racial or religious epithets to be profane: because those words can be political. In the FCC’s skewed logic, then, the n-word is political speech but BS is not.

So whose community standards is the FCC upholding? The FCC says all America is provoked to “violent resentment” over bullshit. Well, bullshit. Show me the man, woman, or, yes, child in a schoolyard who has not uttered the word. Search Google, and you will find 32 million bullshits. Bullshit is part of our language, culture, and politics. The FCC is not enforcing the nation’s community standards. It is enforcing the taboos of a few religious pressure groups.

Note well, then, the religious overtones of the FCC playing the profanity card for the first time in its history. Profanity is by definition “contempt or irreverence for what is sacred.” And so who is to say what is sacred? Politicians? Preachers? The Parents Television Council? Or parents?

Even I can point to the case that brings their "reasoning" down: Cohen v. California, 1971, about the guy who wore the "Fuck the draft" jacket. And then there's the common sense thing: Is there anybody in the world who hears "Oh, shit!" and is then provoked to violence?

Posted by aalkon at September 17, 2006 10:47 AM

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I wonder how he feels about cunt? The word, I mean.

Posted by: Jim Treacher at September 17, 2006 8:53 AM

I can't imagine he's a big fan of it -- the word, I mean. But on his site,, he's been a pretty big defender of Howard Stern and free speech.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at September 17, 2006 9:59 AM

In the best possible world we'd be able to say what we want. Maybe this is the second best possible, where the government keeps a few blades shape for us

Posted by: Crid at September 17, 2006 10:12 AM

Yeah, Stern's the free speech guy...

Posted by: Jim Treacher at September 17, 2006 10:47 AM

Posted by: JT at September 17, 2006 10:48 AM

The FCC is fiddling while Rome burns.

Posted by: Doobie at September 17, 2006 11:17 PM

Tee hee hee! You said poopy!

Posted by: Canada at September 19, 2006 1:28 PM

Tee hee hee! You said poopy!

Posted by: Canada at September 19, 2006 1:29 PM

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