Indecency vs. free speech (no Who)

John Hughes pureneasy at
Tue Apr 20 17:00:59 CDT 2004

Scott, re

> > The FCC's own enforcement bureau had ruled last October that
> > Bono's remarks weren't obscene because they didn't describe a
> > sexual act.
>    Statements like this are both amusing & ancient.

Well, to a degree they're also valid. I mean, would you in the course of
conversation with your grandmother (say) use the phrase fucking brilliant?
Or might you consider that fucking is an unacceptable word to use in her

We swear in ways which our social conditioning allow - as a safety valve,
usually, or in fearful or aggressive situations. We have a vocabulary in
common usage of some 15,000 words - many of iuse are known also as verbose
wafflers whose vocablualry extends to many more words than that. Surely we
can find equally descriptive words among the ones we know than a swear word
for public use?

> >  I recently finished a book called THE ANATOMY OF SWEARING by Ashley
> >  Montagu (still in print) which recounts various attempts throughout
> >  history to constrain the use of swearing, cursing, etc. (Fines for
> >  swearing, anyone?)

What were his conclusions?

> > This ridiculousness has been going on for over
> > 400 years!

And it's noticeable that in those 400 years, fashion, sociual conditioning,
or religion have effected significant changes in what are or aren't
acceptable words.

The C word has been, as far as I know, and still is, for that 400 years
probably the most taboo word, but in Shakespeare's day (I think I'm right)
it was used without much inhibition.

The F word, and the lesser British swear words have risen and fallen on the
chart of taboo words many, many times in the last 400 words - but the F word
still remains a significant taboo in our societies. Notwithstanding Pete and
Roger's usage, either!

> > The book is good - more a history of English swearing than a "how
> > to" manual.  More a linguistic analysis than a silly, snicker-inducing
> > humorous effort, although there are many funny parts.  The author is
> > British so there's a whole chapter on "bloody!"  Plus a wonderful
> > analysis of "fuck!."
> >
> > John Hughes & Alan McKendree, this book is right up your alley.

Scatological or etymological??



PS thanks for the reference - I'll try and read this book!

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