Bush News, or #@!*%##

I know that the primary focus of this blog is an atheistic viewpoint, and I truly want to keep it that way. However, there’s only so much one can say about the topic, that others have not already said, with far more clarity and erudition. So, I’m going to strike out a little farther into other topics of interest to people of like mind, such as our culture, books, politics, etc. Actually many of my previous posts have touched on one or the other topics, with religion, or the lack thereof, being only a peripheral point. So I’m not sticking my neck too far out.

With that in mind, Onward (Un)Christian Soldiers!

 

Fucking Expletives!

For those of you who get even a little pleasure out of seeing Bush’s policies smacked down a peg or two, you might like this recent story. (NB: It’s a New York Times story, so if you aren’t subscribed to the website, you might have to join. It’s free and worth it.) Apparently, the Federal Communications Commission has imposed a tougher policy on what it decides is obscene content going out over the airwaves. This case involves content known as “fleeting expletives”, those words people say quickly, sometimes out of frustration, like “Jesus fucking Christ or “holy shit!” (maybe this story IS appropriate to this blog after all). The FCC deemed them obscene. The 2nd Circuit said, nope. To quote the story

But the judges said vulgar words are just as often used out of frustration or excitement, and not to convey any broader obscene meaning. “In recent times even the top leaders of our government have used variants of these expletives in a manner that no reasonable person would believe referenced sexual or excretory organs or activities.”

What the Court was referring to were instances such as the time Bush was caught on tape using an expletive with Tony Blair, and the time Cheney told Senator Patrick Leahy to “fuck off”. (OK, that’s not an accurate link, but it was too funny not to link to.) The court’s reasoning was that the use of these expletives did not rise to the level of sexual or excretory content, and hence could not be obscene. Again, to quote the story

If President Bush and Vice President Cheney can blurt out vulgar language, then the government cannot punish broadcast television stations for broadcasting the same words in similarly fleeting contexts.

The appeals aren’t over, but the Court ordered the case back to the FCC to rewrite their policy, noting that it doubted that the policy could be rewritten to take into account the statutory and constitutional objections. If it’s not obscene, then there is that little thing called the First Amendment.

Me? I’m looking forward to the day when Al Franken can say “Fuck off, Bush!” on live TV. Or maybe on the Senate floor.

 

7 thoughts on “Bush News, or #@!*%##

  1. If it’s not obscene, then there is that little thing called the First Amendment.

    But wasn’t it Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes who said that you can’t shout “fuck” in a crowded theater?

  2. Yep. It’s right there in the opinion. However, the Supreme Court opinions service changed it to another 4 letter word, beginning with “F’, before it was printed.

    Would have been a great opinion if they left it alone. 🙂

  3. I hope this story gets a lot of media attention because it highlights the hypocrisy of this administration. Mr. Born Again uses language that would offend most of his so-called base. Could it be that he has just been manipulating the mindless herd the entire time?

  4. One of the problems of course, is that what is defined as vulgar or crass changes throught time. ‘Bloody hell’ a century ago in Britain would be the equivalent of saying ‘fuck’ to the queen today. Well maybe not that bad, but still. In fact, advice pamphlets given to American GIs during WWII, advised them not to use ‘bloody’ as it had a much stronger negative association in England. Which words will become acceptable and which remain taboo in years to come, I wonder?

  5. Here’s the standard that the FCC has to enforce bad words and foul language on the air:

    language so grossly offensive to members of the public who actually hear it as to amount to a nuisance.”

    That seems awfully vague. It probably requires something akin to the obscenity standard, which even the Supreme Ct at one time acknowledged that was hard to define, but they knew it when they saw it.

    I think the network’s argument was fucking brilliant, if you’ll excuse my French. Or bloody brilliant if you’ll excuse my English 😉 What they did was show that the highest officers in the nation used the same language on a regular basis to express themselves, so how could it be “grossly offensive to members of the public”.

    Every lawyer and Judge I know swear blue streaks. Exactly whose sensitive ears are we protecting? Some bluenose, blue haired Republican church goer.

    It really is much ado about nothing.

  6. “language so grossly offensive to members of the public who actually hear it as to amount to a nuisance.”

    Damn, that’s just how I feel when I hear “Jesus loves you!”.

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