June 28, 2004

And don't get them started on "dick"

Look, I have no problem with anybody saying "fuck." Even to a senator on the Senate floor. Senators should probably be told to fuck themselves more often.

But the Cheney incident does highlight the complete absurdity of his own administration's FCC ruling on the use of the word. Forget whether there's a difference between saying something in front of other adults in the Senate or on air where kids may be watching. Just look at the rationale the FCC used to decide that the word is inherently unacceptable.

"The 'F-Word'' is one of the most vulgar, graphic and explicit descriptions of sexual activity in the English language. Its use invariably invokes a coarse sexual image. "

That's right: invariably. When Dick Cheney told Patrick Leahy, "fuck yourself," he didn't mean -- and we didn't hear it as -- "get lost." No, according to the FCC, we immediately pictured Leahy actually penetrating himself with his own penis.

Or as Timothy Jay put it on This American Life recently, if someone says "I went to a great fucking party last night," the listener doesn't think the party was exceptionally good, he thinks it was an orgy.

If we're going to have a debate over what's permisible on the airwaves, shouldn't it at least be grounded in the actual meaning of the words in question?

Posted by Daniel Radosh

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