Some taboo words are becoming more accepted, but it’s rare to find a definite point in time when this occurs. One appeared this week in the USA, as a federal appeals court struck down a rule concerning ‘fleeting expletives‘. Before this, TV networks could be fined if, say, Bono said ‘fuck’ on the air during an awards show (which he did). Now, the FCC will have a harder time making it stick.
The court said that policy on so-called fleeting expletives was “unconstitutionally vague” and created a “chilling effect” on the programming that broadcasters chose to air. The court echoed complaints from network executives that the FCC’s standards were nearly impossible to gauge, noting that the agency allowed the airing of the f-word and s-word in broadcasts of the World War II movie “Saving Private Ryan” but not in the PBS miniseries “The Blues.”
The FCC may appeal, but it looks unlikely; FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski hasn’t yet put profanity on the front burner.
So, for now, free speech: Fuck, yeah.