The whole point of free speech is not to make ideas exempt from criticism but to expose them to it.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

On words...

The late great George Carlin may well have exhausted the topic in his "seven words you can't say on television" bit. Of Carlin's original list, piss is now acceptable on television. His amended list added three more words, of which fart and turd are now acceptable on what was formerly broadcast television.

I am a staunch defender of the First Amendment and believe sincerely that it was intended to protect unpopular speech. There is no need to protect popular speech. Larry Flynt of Hustler Magazine was correct when he told a judge that if the First Amendment didn't protect him, it didn't protect anyone.

So, more on the First Amendment later, when I discuss Judge Delaney's sentencing of Bob Newland.

This is about bad words. Naughty words. I used a couple in an earlier post. Someone asked me if I thought that my use of those words represented "decorum." I answered that I thought sometimes a vulgar word is the best word for the situation, and that under some circumstances, profanity can be used effectively in a civil discussion.

I'm an old-school news guy. Use of those words was always strictly forbidden in a "family" newspaper. So out here in the blogosphere, all bets seem to be off. I notice on many other blogs f&*king ampersands and asteriks are used to imply what should be acceptable words if we weren't so uptight about them.

I don't want Decorum Forum to become a profanity-filled blog. But, I also don't want to stifle the folks who post here beyond my requirement that we endeavor to not harm people – any people – with insults and false accusations.

So having set what some may consider to be a bad example in my previous post, I want people here to feel free to use the best possible words to make the repartee here interesting. So, if you've searched your vocabulary and cannot find a better word than a profane one, use profanity. Please be careful to use it sparingly, please.


Bill Fleming said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bill Fleming said...

Now that's some funny sh*t right thar, hoss... I don' care who the f*ck ya are.

Bob Newland said...

I believe I can live up to that.

(Copy and paste into the URL bar of your browser.)

lexrex said...

that's some weak stuff, ms. weak.

Bill Fleming said...

lr, have you been watching Rachael Maddow again little brother?


lexrex said...

geez, bf, i couldn't bring myself to watch that whole video. but if you're saying that i used "weak" in the same way that she did, then ... well ... i don't know what that means.

Tim said...

I come entirely from your school of thought, Michael. One of the many wise things said by Lenny Bruce, who paved the way for Carlin, et al., was, "Take away the right to say 'fuck' and you take away the right to say 'fuck the government.'"

Michael Sanborn said...


Not every post here is going to be earth-shatteringly profound. I want to be able to have some fun too, as we discussed on the other string.

There are some First Amendment issues to discuss, and we will.

In the meantime, have a little fun. Make us laugh without the language. Or, from my other string that you asked about, please offer an alternative adjective that's as effective as the one I used.

lexrex said...

dude, all i did was complain about the cussing. i said nothing about having to be serious.

surely, you're not saying that things are only funny if you cuss.

btw, the words you used in that other post, i thought, weren't that effective. i guess they conjure up different emotions for me than what you were shooting for.

Bob Newland said...

What, exactly, is wrong with using words that someone says is "cussing."

When I was a kid, my mother thought that saying a Mexican was a Mexican was tantamount to an insult. She actually thought that the Mexican would take offense. That, of course, was because she had a bias against Mexicans.

Words are created and used for specific purposes within communication. But I have yet to see a word damage a person, of itself. An word used inaccurately in description can damage a person, as PP attempted to do to me earlier this week. Fortunately, perhaps, for PP, my reputation is so sullied that one might have a problem determining whether his particular word ("addict"), though inaccurate in the context in which he used it, is really damaging to me.

But the word chickenshit? What, exactly, is wrong with it? And, as far as I can tell, lr has yet to suggest a better one in the context in which Mike used it.

Michael Sanborn said...


I think we exhausted this notion on the other string. What I was responding to your declaration that my post was "some weak stuff."

Okay. Not every post will be strong. Go with it and hope something more stimulating finds its way here next.