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April 21, 2005
Kerry Message, plus Curse Words!

John Kerry has issued a video message today, apparently broadcasting from deep within the Death Star, concerning the recent behavior of Tom DeLay and Bill Frist.


DeLay, of course, is just a scumbag. Frist is going around accusing Democrats of fighting a war on people of faith.

Kerry is pretty stiff and pretty boring, but he's right. These are important times. Pay attention.

Speaking of the rapid erosion of our democracy... Liz and I went to see Ira Glass give a talk last night. He spoke about the recent changes in FCC decency rules. Since the recent "Bono decision," broadcasters can be fined up to half a million dollars for uttering the word "fuck" on the airwaves in any context. The fine can be levied against every station that airs the material, not only the broadcaster. Glass played a portion of a David Sedaris piece about a giant turd, aired about 5 years ago. He noted that if they were to air that piece now on the 500 stations that carry This American Life, the fines could reach a quarter of a billion dollars, far more than the fines levied against all the multinational banks involved in the Enron scandal combined.

For talking about a shit. Not even using the word shit, just talking about poop.

The whole thing is based on the ludicrous notion that hearing these words, or even being exposed to these ideas, "damages children" though sociological studies have found this to be completely ridiculous (see this book), while no one, anywhere, ever, has ever shown that it does actually damage anyone.

The same studies have found that nearly all children already know these words, and they learn them from their parents. Further, they use them in exactly the same ways that adults use them -- for emphasis, when angry, and in other emotional ways.

Think about it.. The FCC's stance on this is actually saying that when you hear the phrase "Fucking Awesome!" you will invariably think of crass, loveless sexual intercourse.

It's patently absurd to anyone with a shred of sense, and yet these are the rules that now govern the public airwaves. Glass pointed out that NPR shows such as his and Fresh Air have recently had to cut words like "pissed" (as in, "he was pissed") and "suck" (as in "that sucks") just to be safe.

It may seem like a trivial issue, but it isn't. Death by a thousand tiny cuts.


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