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Expletives may now fleet

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.


  1. Of course, all speech- and topic-censoring by the FCC should be banned. I've never understood why it was ever a seen as a legitimate government role to regulate what speech is said on TV.

  2. Well, since certain forms of speech are considered taboo in this culture, I can see why people wouldn't want to be exposed to it if they don't want. I'm okay with that.

    But the same job can be performed by issuing language warnings, as is the case on Australian TV.

  3. Exactly. I have no problem with that either, because it's not censorship.

  4. Yep. It's informed consent.

  5. Speaking of topic censoring, I saw a rating description on an R rated movie the other day. It had nudity, violence, adult language, sexuality and "sensuality". I ask, since when is sensuality something that should be blocked from anyones view, regardless of age?

    I just don't think it is a good use of the word. To me life itself is sensual, washing dishes can be sensual anything and everything has a sensual aspect.

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