Profanity still isn't norm for TV or society, BYU professor says

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  • Roger Johnston
    Nov. 4, 2008 5:56 p.m.

    Here comes another wasted 25 million the LDS will waste on morality causes that have no bearing whatsoever on soceity. Intent is whats really at stake. Honestly fetch, freak, heck, etc all "mean" or the "intent" is the same as the word that you find so offensive and is commonly spoken by the LDS. So honestly, if say someone speaking russian was strolling by you speaking his native tongue swearing you wouldn't be offended cause you would have no clue what he was saying unless you understood what he was saying at the time. So its you not the speaker that choose to be offended. The BYU study would have done well to run it by a few philosophy departments since modern philosophy deals with language extensively. Here we go with yet another arguement from majority, just because the "majority" doesn't use such language doesn't mean it's ok to limit others from using it. That's the beauty of the first, sometimes language is going to go against the norm and it needs to be protected.

  • Mike
    Nov. 4, 2008 5:45 p.m.

    well, maybe we're not ready for the f word on broadcast stations but as far as profanity not being the norm in society I think this guy is full of "BS" I don't care what rules businesses have, most people swear at one time or another...even if it's in private or under their breath.

  • rattler
    Nov. 4, 2008 4:58 p.m.

    I haven't said an audible swear word in more than 10 years and that includes the D, H and S words. My choice is based on being an example to my children. I too, am offended by the F word and sadly, as I walked the halls of my daughter's Jr. High the other day I heard it said by a student. My daughter turned to me and said, "You're going to hear some colorful words today, dad." Makes me sick to think that she is exposed to that on a daily basis.
    On the other hand, when I was a teenage, I remember my Sunday School Teacher once say just as naturally as can be, "I'd rather pick S*** with the chickens than to let my neighbors go hungry when I have meat in my freezer." (or something like that). He, too was an Idaho rancher and former Bishop, former Military Intelligence and a very, very good man.
    I would be happy to become half the man that he was. Really, it doesn't say what kind of person you are unless you only swear to purposely make others uncomfortable.

  • Idaho Shecky
    Nov. 4, 2008 4:10 p.m.

    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.

  • DCnTN
    Nov. 4, 2008 3:16 p.m.

    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.

  • Ivy league cussers
    Nov. 4, 2008 3:13 p.m.

    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.

  • Cats
    Nov. 4, 2008 2:40 p.m.

    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.

  • Interesting thoughts
    Nov. 4, 2008 2:37 p.m.

    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.

  • Pardon me
    Nov. 4, 2008 2:18 p.m.

    @ 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.

  • Sam
    Nov. 4, 2008 1:21 p.m.

    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).

  • Well DUH...
    Nov. 4, 2008 1:15 p.m.

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

  • Tim
    Nov. 4, 2008 1:04 p.m.

    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.

    Nov. 4, 2008 12:31 p.m.

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

  • Envelope Pushing
    Nov. 4, 2008 12:17 p.m.

    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.

  • Beth
    Nov. 4, 2008 12:04 p.m.

    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.

  • libertarian
    Nov. 4, 2008 11:55 a.m.

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

  • lgu
    Nov. 4, 2008 11:49 a.m.

    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.

  • Paul in MD
    Nov. 4, 2008 11:33 a.m.

    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.

  • Paul Gibbs
    Nov. 4, 2008 11:01 a.m.

    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).

  • Hatuletoh
    Nov. 4, 2008 11:00 a.m.

    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?

  • Also P2B Prude
    Nov. 4, 2008 10:34 a.m.

    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.

  • The Rock
    Nov. 4, 2008 10:23 a.m.

    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.

  • Mike
    Nov. 4, 2008 10:23 a.m.

    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.

  • Dan
    Nov. 4, 2008 10:13 a.m.

    I encourage individuals who use such profanity to rise above it.
    There are some Individuals who seem to have command of the English language and are able to speak freely and clearly with tremendous powers of expression. I have also heard others who are not articulate, but are able to communicate without profanity. Sadly I have heard and listned to some who seem to be unable to communicate without profanity, which I believe exposes a lack of willingness and perhaps self control to better learn the English language.

  • Huge
    Nov. 4, 2008 10:04 a.m.

    Unfortunately it is not education that determines ones language. I have worked both blue collar and white collar jobs and more often it is the "well-educated" who feel they must spice up their language with profanities. The average, hard-working American is too busy earning a living to worry about these things. They still wash their kids mouths out with soap and know that there are times and places where such words are not appropriate -- places like the public airways.

  • Society
    Nov. 4, 2008 10:02 a.m.

    Our society as a whole is just getting dumber by the minute. Using the F-Bomb just shows a lack of intelligence that seems to be growing.

  • Hello
    Nov. 4, 2008 9:56 a.m.

    It depends on the situation, but I do not believe that using the "F-word" every once in a while is a sign of lower intelligence and/or education. In fact, a well-placed "F-word" can be quite effective. But those who use it frequently (such as in every sentence) are probably not among the most educated individuals.

    On the other hand, I don't necessarily think it's lazy for a filmmaker or writer to create characters who rely on such foul language - for it is a fact that such people do exist, and the fact that they created those characters does not necessarily mean they support their actions or manners of speaking. Most of the time it is gratuitous, but some do in fact have a greater purpose. However, I have no problem with such stuff being kept of public television. The lazy writing of a vast majority of sitcoms won't be made any better by throwing in a few more swear words.

    And I'm rambling. Sorry.

  • Dave M
    Nov. 4, 2008 9:46 a.m.

    Though turning the TV off or changing the channel helps us individually, it has proven largely ineffective for the industry as a whole. When a program pushes the boundaries just a bit it passes by being noticed but not widely protested. Only the most egregious stuff gets protested and changed but each push at the wall moves it ever so much. Incrementalism means that the boundaries move each year and it is really tough to fight. A little help from the FCC would be welcome indeed.

  • to proud
    Nov. 4, 2008 9:45 a.m.

    I have an overabundance of intelligence and education, yet sometimes I still use the f-bomb. I also have a large vocabulary. I disagree that using ANY words is somehow a "lower standard of communication".

  • Chelsie
    Nov. 4, 2008 9:30 a.m.

    Just like it said in the article, there is a difference between free speech and what you hear on public TV. If you make it ok for the F-word to be on TV then soon regular TV shows that don't currently use those words will start to because it's ok. We won't be able to watch a lot of shows that we do because of the language that is used. My children already live in a world where they hear swear words at school, at a friends house, at the playground, at the movies and restraunts because people have the right to say what they please, but my home is a place where they shouldn't have to hear those things. Me and my husband should be able to watch TV without my children hearing the "bad words" that they say. But I also do not want to be the mother that doesn't let her kids watch TV because the language is unacceptable. The F word should remain in the mouths of those that choose to say it, not on public television accessable by children.

  • Just words
    Nov. 4, 2008 9:20 a.m.

    It's all just words and it is the norm. Outside of religious contexts and places where kids are present, profanity is the norm. I've worked with people educated at the best universities throughout the world and almost all of them use profanity. I'll let others decide what that says about society, but from my experience the use of "profanity" is absolutely normal and common.

  • Swearing
    Nov. 4, 2008 9:15 a.m.

    "Profanity is the language of the uneducated" - Mark Twain

  • Jake
    Nov. 4, 2008 9:14 a.m.

    What would church baseketball be without profanity?

  • Sarah
    Nov. 4, 2008 8:55 a.m.

    It is pretty normal to hear that word when you're out and about. Which is exactly why those of us who don't WANT to hear it shouldn't be forced to do so in the privacy of our own homes. Yet another reason why I almost never watch tv anymore.

  • Proud2BPrude
    Nov. 4, 2008 8:29 a.m.

    Anytime I hear someone resort to dropping the F-bomb, they are telling me and anyone else listening that they suffer from a lack of intelligence and/or education, either of which has sorely inhibited the extent of their vocabulary. Such linguistically challenged individuals are becoming increasingly commonplace; nevertheless, this is no valid justification for the rest of us to stoop to their lower standard of communication.

  • anonymous
    Nov. 4, 2008 8:27 a.m.

    The same also goes for the word "freakin'" in everyday use. This word has become a "cover-up" word for when the speaker/writer really intends it to convey the same intent as the infamous "f-word." All too often, even in church settings, people have used the cover-up word not really thinking about what it is they are saying. This has become merely a synonym for the offensive, just as "flip" was often used. Think about it, it sounds like a duck, walks like a duck, and has nothing to do with the actual definition of "freak." It's inappropriate to use, in any context, just as is the "f-bomb."

  • justjoe
    Nov. 4, 2008 8:04 a.m.

    Is "frickin" the F-word?

  • Frank
    Nov. 4, 2008 7:55 a.m.

    It would be in very poor taste to call your grandmother a dirty old hag. It would be in poor taste, but not illegal -- nor should it be. If you are offended by the content of a television program, the solution is very simple: turn it off. The broadcasters will soon get the message.

  • Cats
    Nov. 4, 2008 7:54 a.m.

    Wow, I think the previous three comments are kind of weird and basically meaningless. And I don't think George Carlin added anything whatsoever to public discourse.

  • Anonymous
    Nov. 4, 2008 7:45 a.m.

    Well if its "the norm," then it ain't profanity, right?

  • me
    Nov. 4, 2008 7:04 a.m.

    hear, hear

  • ironic
    Nov. 4, 2008 7:01 a.m.

    We empower profanity with our prudishness. George carlin forced us to realise that we create profanity by giving it definition. And we continue to do so.

  • EMC
    Nov. 4, 2008 1:09 a.m.

    I find it interesting that FOX TV is the one sueing to be able to use the F word.

    Correct me if I am wrong but didn't our family values Vice President with in the past two years use the F word on the floor of the United States Senate?

    I have always thought that profanity is the crutch of the inarticulate.