Supreme Court Rules On "F-Word" On TV


Posted April 29, 2009 - By Stephen Johnson


The Supreme Court of the United States has ruled against Fox in a case involving cussing on TV. At issue was "incidental" swearing during the Billboard Awards of 2002 and 2003. According to the Supreme court, the Federal Communication Commission can impose fines on the network for airing expletives uttered by Cher and Nicole Richie during the awards shows. Cher said, "F them!"  Richie said that getting the "S-word" out of a Prada purse was not so "F-ing" simple. Because the remarks were not scripted, the court regarded these as "fleeting" expletives as opposed to more insidious planned and premeditated cursing.

"The commission could reasonably conclude that the pervasiveness of foul language, and the coarsening of public entertainment in other media such as cable, justify more stringent regulation of broadcast programs so as to give conscientious parents a relatively safe haven for their children," Justice Antonin Scalia wrote in the 5-4 decision. He also called Richie and Cher "foul-mouthed glitteratae from Hollywood," which made me LOL.

Whether the FCC has a constitutional right to fine broadcasters was not determined by this case. The Supreme Court refused to rule on the Constitutionality of the agency's actions. Fox said it was disappointed but "optimistic that we will ultimately prevail when the First Amendment issues are fully aired before the courts." The case was sent back to the U.S. 2nd Circuit Court to decide on its constitutionality.

I find this whole thing incredibly amusing. That Supreme Court justices, serious people who have spent their entire lives studying the finer points of law, society and philosophy, are weightily debating whether a certain set of syllables used in a specific context on a dumb awards show by a couple of dingbats from the TV damages society is pretty ridiculous. Seriously, don't we have better things to worry about as a culture? Can't we spend this time curing the swine flu or providing potable water to the people in Kenya?

Maybe I hang out with degenerates or something, but I don't think I know anyone who doesn't curse, and we're all doing okay. Being able to lay out a withering string of swears is an important skill that must be learned somewhere, and if a child can't learn from television award shows, where can he learn? As the parent of a child who is just learning to talk,  I don't effing care which effing words he hears on TV. They're just words. Effective cursing is a very important skill that our nation's effing children need to effing learn if they want to be able to effectively communicate. For instance, if my kid accidentally hits his thumb with a hammer, I don't want him yelling "Oh, sugar! I hit my monkey-forking thumb!" People who do that are creepy. Although, it seems, in the eyes of th the Supreme Court I'm not a "conscientious" parents, because I believe that certain combinations of sounds can't damage anything. It's not like the F-Word is a magical spell or anything. Didn't South Park do a whole show about this??

Because you cannot curse in our comment section, please try to express your opinions about these important matters without using off-color language! But let us all know: Do you curse?


Supreme Court Rules On "F-Word" On TV


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