Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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June 5, 2007
By: Kevin Drum

PAYBACK TIME....The recent FCC crackdown on "fleeting vulgarities" has always struck me as little more than ludicrously misguided prudery, so I'm happy to see that an Appeals Court has struck it down. The court's reasoning is just a cherry stuck on top:

The judges said vulgar words are just as often used out of frustration or excitement, and not to convey any broader obscene meaning. "In recent times even the top leaders of our government have used variants of these expletives in a manner that no reasonable person would believe referenced sexual or excretory organs or activities."

Adopting an argument made by lawyers for NBC, the judges then cited examples in which Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney had used the same language that would be penalized under the policy. Mr. Bush was caught on videotape last July using a common vulgarity that the commission finds objectionable in a conversation with Prime Minister Tony Blair of Britain. Three years ago, Mr. Cheney was widely reported to have muttered an angry obscene version of "get lost" to Senator Patrick Leahy on the floor of the United States Senate.

"Get lost" indeed. Karma is a bitch, isn't it?

Kevin Drum 12:20 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (31)

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Comments

Ah, Kevin.

Since when is "get lost" an obscenity?

Whose the prude now, Kevin?

Posted by: egbert on June 5, 2007 at 12:33 AM | PERMALINK

go fuck yourself egbert.

Posted by: gregor on June 5, 2007 at 12:35 AM | PERMALINK

Just wondering, Kevin, you seem to be hitting the, shall we say, less immediate problems. May be that is a good idea, but ...

Bush's misunderated foreign diplomacy is lauching us and Europe into a new coldish war and collapsing the remaining arms treaties;

Bush's misdirected war is now bringing terrorist action to Lebanon, the Palestinians no less. Can West Bank and Israel be far behind?

Bush is short-circuiting the G8 climate change initiative while China is making its first nod towards being part of the solution;

... and on and on.

Sometimes CA seems a little too insulated.

Just wondering.

Posted by: notthere on June 5, 2007 at 12:39 AM | PERMALINK

Oh, and military tribunals are in serious doodoo and finally getting some coverage for being so. Got to make a cobble-up within 72 hours for the appeal against dismissing of charges for 2 Guantanamo nmates.

Nice, gregor! This had to be the real egbert to be that stupid, didn't it? Or a really clever fake.

Posted by: notthere on June 5, 2007 at 12:44 AM | PERMALINK

Kevin wrote:

"Get lost" indeed. Karma is a bitch, isn't it?


Big time!

Posted by: Friend of Labor on June 5, 2007 at 12:45 AM | PERMALINK

Just wondering, Kevin, you seem to be hitting the, shall we say, less immediate problems. May be that is a good idea, but ...

Yes, I can't remember the last time Kevin blogged about the consequences of the Iraq war. Must've been at least 9 hours ago.

Posted by: Old Hat on June 5, 2007 at 12:47 AM | PERMALINK

...in a manner that no reasonable person would believe referenced sexual or excretory organs or activities.

Just on the merits, how is it that even this standard is still operable? I mean, surely the sexual/excretory standard was designed to ban certain words such as "fuck" and "shit," rather than to ban talk about sex and excretion, and certainly it is almost always enforced as such. But how can anyone straight-facedly say that passes first amendment muster?

Posted by: Aaron S. Veenstra on June 5, 2007 at 12:48 AM | PERMALINK

Recall that Georgie pronounded his view the worth of the Iraq Study Group report to his subordinates as being a 'cold turd'. Surely this wasn't literalism, right?

Posted by: JimPortlandOR on June 5, 2007 at 12:56 AM | PERMALINK

Does that mean that all the people who've been fined for this sort of thing will get their money back?

Posted by: jimBOB on June 5, 2007 at 1:28 AM | PERMALINK

Why does the judiciary hate America?

Posted by: Bad Rabbit on June 5, 2007 at 4:35 AM | PERMALINK

What is really obscene is war. War is the ultimate pornography and anyone who likes/wants/worhips war is the ultimate porno freak.

These sick, degenerate conservatives need to see what is realy obscene in our world and it starts with their world view...

Posted by: The Conservative Deflator on June 5, 2007 at 7:07 AM | PERMALINK

I think the term Bush used for the Iraq Study Group was "flaming turd."

Then of course there's Bush's nickname for Karl Rove, "Turd Blossom."

Posted by: MaxGowan on June 5, 2007 at 7:30 AM | PERMALINK

The Bush administration is to blame for the outbreak in vulgarity. They've given us so much to cuss at...

Posted by: Fred on June 5, 2007 at 8:16 AM | PERMALINK

Bush and his fellow conservatives:

1) against vulgarity, except when they are uttering it;

2) against election fraud, except when they are guilty of election fraud;

3) against sexual dalliances, except when they are involved in one;

4) against ducking service to one's country, except when they do;

5) against a figurative Bible, except when they need an excuse to do evil or obtain a pardon from the public for having done evil;

6) against interference in the market, unless it is they who are interfering;

7) against using emotion, rather than science, to guide public policy, except when they are so using emotion and rejecting science;

8) against unprovoked war, except when they are engaging in unprovoked war;

9) against torture, except when they are doing the torturing;

10) against interference with democracies, except when they interfere with democracies;

11) against non-substantive congressional resolutions, except when they passing such resolutions;

12) against congressional investigations, except when they engage in such investigations;

13) against foreign "interference" in American elections, except when the foreign "interference" works to their advantage;

14) against the filibuster, except when they engage in a filibuster;

15) against legislative pork, except when they are eating from the trough of legislative pork;

16) against using charges of discrimination, except when they are using unjustified charges of discrimination as a political weapon;

17) against the "murder" of children, except when they are engaged in the "murder" of children;

18) against "provocative" foreign policy, except when they are engaged in "provocative" foreign policy;

19) against broad executive power, except when they are in control of the executive branch;

20) against congressional interference in personal matters, except when they are in charge of Congress.

There is more conservative hypocrisy to list, of course, but my fingers would fall off from typing them all.

Whatever conservatives say they are against, there is always an exception written in for themselves.

Posted by: anonymous on June 5, 2007 at 8:56 AM | PERMALINK

"but what will we tell the children?"

Posted by: paperpusher on June 5, 2007 at 9:12 AM | PERMALINK

\"but what will we tell the children?"

"Try not to say 'fuck' or 'bullshit' around yer grandparents, dear.."

Posted by: MR. Bill on June 5, 2007 at 9:27 AM | PERMALINK

Check out FCC Chairman Kevin Martin's response to the Court's ruling. Not for the faint of heart: the man drops the 'F' bomb in his statement (no joke!) numerous times.

Here is the link (Adobe Acrobat required):

http://hraunfoss.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DOC-273602A1.pdf

Posted by: Kevin on June 5, 2007 at 9:42 AM | PERMALINK

Check out FCC Chairman Kevin Martin's response to the ruling. Not for the faint of heart: the man who is so offended by the ruling drops the 'F' bomb (and less explosive 'S' bomb) numerous times (Adobe required):

http://hraunfoss.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DOC-273602A1.pdf

Posted by: Kevin on June 5, 2007 at 9:45 AM | PERMALINK

The press release Kevin links to above reminds me of a Lenny Bruce routine about a judge and prosecutor who couldn't stop saying "cocksucker" over and over in the courtroom where Lenny was being tried for saying it in a bar.

Posted by: anandine on June 5, 2007 at 9:50 AM | PERMALINK

I'm thinking now of the Peg Bracken line about "the 'dynamically mature' lady who said 'Oh, shit! I've stepped in doggie do-do.."

Posted by: MR.Bill on June 5, 2007 at 9:52 AM | PERMALINK

anandine: Not to sound like too much of a wonk, but I actually watched the Court of Appeals argument in this case (on C-Span) and listed to it on the radio. The judges, and each of the attorneys were dropping the 'F' bomb constantly. It was really something to see (and hear). I am sure that Lenny was laughing somewhere.

Posted by: Kevin on June 5, 2007 at 9:59 AM | PERMALINK

What's really obscene is that the court would use "reference" as a verb.

Posted by: RKing on June 5, 2007 at 10:25 AM | PERMALINK

Even weirder than reading the "obscenities" in the press release is the "Potential solution" at the bottom:

All of the potential versions of a la carte would avoid government regulation of content while enabling consumers, including parents, to receive only the programming they want and believe to be appropriate for their families. Providing consumers more choice would avoid the First Amendment concerns of content regulation, while providing real options for Americans.
Is it just me, or is that a complete non sequitur? The two incidents at question where during the Billboard Music Awards, which were on a broadcast channel, yes? What does a la carte channels have to do with that?

Posted by: dallas on June 5, 2007 at 10:29 AM | PERMALINK

Sounds like they need a new rating - LR (live, rockstars) possible adult themes of sex, drugs, and rock and roll!

Posted by: royalblue_tom on June 5, 2007 at 10:38 AM | PERMALINK

Whew. And here I thought they'd have to take professional sports off the air...Every so often, a mic picks up some creative use of language at one of those events...

Posted by: grape_crush on June 5, 2007 at 10:41 AM | PERMALINK

President George W. Bush is Jeff Guckert's bitch.

Posted by: Brojo on June 5, 2007 at 11:44 AM | PERMALINK

Fuck yes!

Sorry; had to do it.

Posted by: Ron on June 5, 2007 at 2:31 PM | PERMALINK

"Whatever conservatives say they are against, there is always an exception written in for themselves."
Posted by: anonymous


Just what is it that conservatives are conserving?
Their name itself is simply more of that double-speak/new-think from the get go.

Posted by: slanted tom on June 5, 2007 at 4:08 PM | PERMALINK

They are called that because they are careful and cautious by nature, both in their own lives and in the handling of public money. They don't like change for the sake of change and prefer to reason things out and [reserve what's worth saving rather than leaping off the nearest ideological cliff. They believe in strong moral values and the holding to account of people who flagrantly flout them.

No, wait: I thought you said 'progressives'!

Posted by: Kenji on June 5, 2007 at 4:33 PM | PERMALINK

So let me get this straight. It's ok to use one of these words as an expletive, if it doesn't imply the word's literal "sexual or excretory" meaning. So if I step in a puddle I can say "shit!", but if I actually step in a pile of dogshit I can't? Of course, in that case it would be ok to say "fuck!".

Posted by: dwight on June 6, 2007 at 1:34 AM | PERMALINK

Well, I guess the FCC wouldn't like this then:
Sons Of Butcher-Fuck The Shit

Posted by: doug r on June 6, 2007 at 9:21 AM | PERMALINK
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