Comments about ‘Profanity still isn't norm for TV or society, BYU professor says’

Return to article »

Published: Tuesday, Nov. 4 2008 12:00 a.m. MST

  • Oldest first
  • Newest first
  • Most recommended

Who decided which words were swear words and which words were ok to use? Why are silly words fobidden? It just doesn't make sense. They are just words.

The Rock

While I agree that we can turn off the TV or change the channel, this is only part of the problem.

Allowing profanity under freedom of speech is akin to allowing littering under freedom of the press.

I can keep profanity out of my home by controlling the media we take in. We live in the American culture. Profanity pollutes my culture.

I live and work in the Seattle area. People in another group were using the f-bomb on a regular basis. People need to know that this language is not acceptable or they will look at you like you have two heads if you complain.

Also P2B Prude

Cats -- if George Carlin is your moral compass, you may need to rethink your raison d'etre. Profanity, obscenity and vulgarity offend a significant number of us, and we should not be forced to countenance them. Public policy should not be aimed at sharing intellectual poverty.


Though I strongly support reasonable limits for profanity on TV, I seems to me that the shows themselves are much worse for the brain than some naughty words. How many people were absolutely insane (and inane) over a singing contest just recently?

To Proud2BPrude: low intelligence or lack of education is not causal to F-bomb usage. Properly employed profanity is merely a linguistic tool that startles, grabs attention, emphasizes a point, and helps establish both commonality and dominance within social heirarchies. People use it carelessly and ineffectually all the time (those are the people for whom F-bomb usage indicates low verbal acuity) but it's not fair to say there is never a justification for being profane.

I mean, it just wouldn't have been the same if Clark Gable had said, "frankly, my dear, I don't care", right?

Paul Gibbs

Sadly, I can't really go anywhere these days without hearing that word, so I have to say it seems pretty much the norm to me. But I still don't see trying to enforce some reasonable broadcast standards as being unconstitutional.

However, I do have to say I find most of the content on Fox's "Family Guy" more offensive than that word. The F-word (which some people still insist on calling "the R-rated curse word" even though it's been allowed in PG or Pg-13 movies from time to time for DECADES) is not really worse to me than other explicit vulgarisms, and there is certainly no religious standard that makes it so (I'm not defending the F-word, I'm wondering why people who hate it put up with so much else).

Paul in MD

Profanity is NOT the norm everywhere. It is the norm where people have decided it is acceptable to be vulgar and base, regularly expressing disregard for those around them and punishing those who disagree. I was in a McDonald's one Saturday with my family, including 5 children ages 4 - 16. There were other high school kids there on their own. One or two let slip a swear word, but when they realized there were little kids present they stopped.

Another group walked in letting loose an unending stream of vulgarity. I asked them to stop, and a girl spewed a hateful mouthful of it aimed at me, telling me I had no right to tell her anything and to go back to my "f-ing" burger. So, as it pleased me, I spoke up to management who threw them all out.

Vulgarity is only accepted where we collectively promote it, either by using it or tolerating it. As long as the airwaves are public (owned by the Fed and leased to broadcasters), there should not be vulgarity on TV/radio. To allow it would be promotion of such by the Feds, who have to answer to our votes.


Isn't it interesting that people are so offended by prayer in school and believe that they have the right to have their children in school without being subjected to prayer and its influence but are championing the cause of being able to use profanity if they choose. Why should I have to turn off the TV? I have the right to watch a public program with expectations of clean language just as much as you neandrathals have the right to go to school and not have to hear a prayer. Check your values.


Fetch! What the heck are you darn people talking about!


Filler words (like "freaking") are not equal to actual profanity because despite the fact that in a phrase they might take the place of offensive words most people who say them or hear them (at least in my opinion) are not mentally replacing them with anything offensive.

I also think that it's ridiculous that someone somewhere deemed certain words offensive and other words okay (ex. butt vs. a**), but whatever the reason for those classifications at this point they are what they are. The sole purpose for using those words is to offend and although there might be a place for them in certain pieces of film or literature (or in people's conversations with eachother) they really don't belong on publicly-owned airwaves.

Freedom of speech does not guarantee someone the right to say whatever they want however they want wherever they want to whoever they want without consequences.

Envelope Pushing

Lincoln once asked how many legs would a dog have if you called the tail leg. The answer: four, it doesn't matter that you call the tail a leg, it is still a tail.

Same thing with profanity. It is vulgar, crass and has no place in civil discourse. No matter what people say about it.

In former times it was used in locker rooms and rough working areas of men only.

The gendre of hip-hop has brought the words to the common volcabulary for children, as well as teens and adults.

You are not enlightened when you use it. You are brain dead, otherwise you could express yourself in much better ways.

It is a lazy bunch of words. I know, I used them inm sports my whole life. In the locker rooms ect... It took a long time to stop using them. But we never did use them in public.

perhaps society is dumbing down. people say they are pushing the envelope! But they are pushing it DOWN, not up.


Profanity is a bad habit that is sometimes hard to break!!


I agree that we need to fight more negative things allowed coming onto TV. The problem is that enough people keep watching whatever the networks put on the TV, then they get used to more vulgar things. I am one of them, so I am not judging. But I don't want to allow this bad TV into my home anymore. If we complained to the networks things would hopefully change. We can also turn off the TV. What I am trying to say is that we need to screen the stuff our kids and what we watch, and fight to make our voice heard. We shouldn't sit back idly and let the makers of TV shows think we are ok with what they are putting on.

Well DUH...

Any idiot knows that it's indecent. That's why they say it.


Did it bother anyone else that the Des news interviewed a former reporter from their own paper to put together a self-serving article? I guess you can do that if you're preaching to the choir. The article gives all the hoity-toitys a chance to call anyone who curses "uneducated." The reality is everyone curses, even the most educated professor (or president).

Pardon me

@ Sam...
I beg to differ with you. I don't now what "reality" you live in, but not everyone curses. There are civilized people in all walks of life who discipline their language to avoid cursing at all times.

I grew up in a rural environment where we worked shoulder-to-shoulder with farm hands every day. Cursing was a matter-of-course. Except for my father. My brother and I never heard my father utter a curse word in all the years working in the field. He was universally respected among the hired hands: they never cursed in his presence. I observed several things in that setting: 1) clean language sets you apart and earns you respect, 2) people curse to impress, shock, put down or amuse others, 3) those who curse are aware of their language and that curse words are inappropriate and may offend 4) People have the ability to turn cursing off when they want to.

Following my father's example, I don't curse. I have friends who do, but they make it a point to not curse around me, and if someone else does, they bring them up short.

Interesting thoughts

After reading the article and these comments, it seems that most of you have missed a very basic thought. That is that words convey thought. Words are spoken or written sounds, which people have deemed thoughts transfered. Throughout history, there have been "good words" and "bad words". Regardless of the word, it is the thought behind it that counts. For that alone, the "freaking, flipping, etc. etc. etc. are in my opinion, all weaknesses in the thought processes. People control your thoughts and you will control your mouth.


To: Also P2B Prude--You either didn't read my blog or totally misinterpreted it. I can't stand George Carlin and I thought I made that point in my blog. My point was that I don't think George Carlin added ANYTHING to public discourse by his so called "hilarious" and "insightful" comments about profanity. I don't even think he was the least bit funny. He shouldn't be a moral compass or guide for anyone. I thought my blog made that clear.

I am totally opposed to profanity and think it is an example of the continuing coursening of society. I don't think it adds anything to television or movies. In fact, that's why I'm such a big fan of movies from the golden era of Hollywood. They have grown-up plots without sex or filthy language. I'm getting so I hardly want to go to the movies any more and I watch no network television.

Please, we can all be better people and be more considerate of others if we use better language. I hope the Supreme Court will uphold the FCC's right to monitor and regulate fowl language over the publicly licensed airwaves.

Ivy league cussers

I attend a prestigious east coast university and hear the medical students drop the f- bomb more than just about any other word. They sound absolutely ridiculous. Unless you're Bruce Willis- you sound like a moron.


It seems like the media and the politically correct world at large worry about everyone feelings but mine. They bend over backwards to avoid offending people based on race, ethnic background, gender, sexual orientation, income level, obesity, and the list goes on and on.

For me the "F word" or hearing God's name taken in vain is every bit as offensive to my ears as hearing the N word is for a black person or the other "F" word is for someone who is gay. How can I know that? By the way I feel. How about including those with traditional judeochristian morals and values in with everyone else? After all, we are a minority now.

And as for "normal", I can tell you that I almost never hear profanity at work. I golf weekly at a nice golf course in the Southeast, and more of the men I play with deport themselves as gentleman than not. There is still a very sizable population of people who do not consider vulgar words a part of normal speech.

Idaho Shecky

I have to admit that I am prone to drop a few curse words on occasion. D, H, and S are my uses. I tried to not say any of these for a day not long ago. I made it until 9:00 AM. I have continued to try and break my habit. I am a work in progress. It's not necessarily due to lack of education or vocabulary. It is a habit. I am saving all of my swear words for tomorrow after the election. It is,however, all right to swear when you're working with cattle. It's the only language the damn things understand. My old Stake President once told me that.

to comment

DeseretNews.com encourages a civil dialogue among its readers. We welcome your thoughtful comments.
About comments