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Almost Before We Spoke, We Swore
New York Times ^ | September 20, 2005 | NATALIE ANGIER

Posted on 09/20/2005 7:07:03 PM PDT by NCjim

Incensed by what it sees as a virtual pandemic of verbal vulgarity issuing from the diverse likes of Howard Stern, Bono of U2 and Robert Novak, the United States Senate is poised to consider a bill that would sharply increase the penalty for obscenity on the air.

By raising the fines that would be levied against offending broadcasters some fifteenfold, to a fee of about $500,000 per crudity broadcast, and by threatening to revoke the licenses of repeat polluters, the Senate seeks to return to the public square the gentler tenor of yesteryear, when seldom were heard any scurrilous words, and famous guys were not foul mouthed all day.

Yet researchers who study the evolution of language and the psychology of swearing say that they have no idea what mystic model of linguistic gentility the critics might have in mind. Cursing, they say, is a human universal. Every language, dialect or patois ever studied, living or dead, spoken by millions or by a small tribe, turns out to have its share of forbidden speech, some variant on comedian George Carlin's famous list of the seven dirty words that are not supposed to be uttered on radio or television.

Young children will memorize the illicit inventory long before they can grasp its sense, said John McWhorter, a scholar of linguistics at the Manhattan Institute and the author of "The Power of Babel," and literary giants have always constructed their art on its spine.

(Excerpt) Read more at nytimes.com ...


TOPICS: News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: cursing; cussing; fbomb; fcc; foullanguage; freespeech; obscenity; publicairwaves; regulations; swearing; uselesssenate

1 posted on 09/20/2005 7:07:04 PM PDT by NCjim
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To: NCjim
United States Senate is poised to consider a bill that would sharply increase the penalty for obscenity on the air.

More crap legislation when there are real problems that need solving.

2 posted on 09/20/2005 7:10:25 PM PDT by RadioAstronomer (Senior member of Darwin Central)
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To: NCjim
Robert Novak?

THE Robert Novak?

What the !@@@#$%^&**(!##$%%%&*^%$#&#@!#%%^&&$## did he say?

Leni

3 posted on 09/20/2005 7:11:54 PM PDT by MinuteGal
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To: NCjim

Oh yeah, right.

What DIDN'T the caveman say when he dropped the first rock on his toe?

When she dropped the supper into the fire?

When the first kid in the Bible killed the second kid in the Bible?

Heck, cussing WAS the first language!


4 posted on 09/20/2005 7:14:08 PM PDT by Robert A. Cook, PE (-I contribute to FR monthly, but ABBCNNBCBS supports Hillary's Secular Sexual Socialism every day.)
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To: NCjim
While I would like to hear less bad language on TV and radio, the only way to clean up the language is to clean up the people. I agree that we don't need anymore legislation. And while it may be a universal phenomenon, that doesn't excuse it.
5 posted on 09/20/2005 7:16:19 PM PDT by metmom (Welfare was never meant to be a career choice.)
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To: NCjim

And when this law makes its way to the Supreme Court Chief Justcie Roberts will think.....


6 posted on 09/20/2005 7:19:31 PM PDT by msnimje (Cogito Ergo Sum Republican)
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To: metmom

I don't know, it seems like kind of a chicken-or-egg situation to me. Are the curse words showing up on the air because of more frequent daily use, or vise-versa? And shouldn't we try to stop more "trickle-down morality"? Should we allow the normalization of profanity?


7 posted on 09/20/2005 7:22:49 PM PDT by To Hell With Poverty (From the rainbow center of the bluest part of a good Red State)
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To: RadioAstronomer
CNN isn't a 'broadcast' channel, it is a pay service. Novak's outburst has nothing to do with this. It's nothing more than yet another ill-informed cheap shot from the dying Old Gray Lady.
8 posted on 09/20/2005 7:24:37 PM PDT by Carling (http://www.marriedadults.com/howarddeanscreamaudio141jq.mp3)
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To: Carling

Huh? Did you mean to post to me?


9 posted on 09/20/2005 7:26:45 PM PDT by RadioAstronomer (Senior member of Darwin Central)
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To: RadioAstronomer

Nope. I meant to add a comment to the original post.

Sorry about that. I didn't mean to infer that you said that.


10 posted on 09/20/2005 7:29:33 PM PDT by Carling (http://www.marriedadults.com/howarddeanscreamaudio141jq.mp3)
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To: NCjim


While they're at it, maybe the Senate can figure out a way to yank Springer and Povich off the air.


11 posted on 09/20/2005 7:29:40 PM PDT by clearlight
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To: NCjim
Every language, dialect or patois ever studied, living or dead, spoken by millions or by a small tribe, turns out to have its share of forbidden speech,

The problem appears to be that nothing seems to be forbidden these days.

susie

12 posted on 09/20/2005 7:42:29 PM PDT by brytlea (All you need as ID to vote in FL is your Costco card...)
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To: NCjim

Hmmn, JJ and Al say it would be racist to hold that standard for Mayor Nagin of NO.


13 posted on 09/20/2005 8:13:57 PM PDT by Ursus arctos horribilis ("It is better to die on your feet than to live on your knees!" Emiliano Zapata 1879-1919)
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