Maryland Blogger Alliance

Alliance FAQs

Latest MBA Posts

June 14, 2007

Good question

When the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit held that the FCC's fining of broadcasters for "fleeting expletives" was arbitrary and capricious, the newspapers hailing the decision were oddly coy about quoting the expletives in question. As Daniel Henninger notes:

After the decision, editorialists and columnists in newspapers everywhere mocked the FCC's "moralists" and "language police" for its provably quixotic effort to suppress the most commonly used words--today--in our language. Nevertheless, virtually none of these newspapers could bring themselves to rearrange the famous four letters--k, f, c, u and h, t, s, i--into either word, instead publishing them as f*** and s*** or resorting to euphemisms: "highly pungent," "oft-heard vulgar words" and "celebrity cursing at awards shows."
For example, Henninger refers to "the New York Times' dainty account of the case, wherein Mr. 'Cheney was widely reported to have muttered an angry, profane version of "get lost" to Senator Patrick Leahy.'"

He then poses this question: "So what explanation remains for not printing the words in full? Good taste?" That's the Wall Street Journal's reason, he says. But what about other newspapers' reasons? Can it be that "perhaps deep in the primeval corner of the editorial soul sits the sense that somehow there really is something not quite right with promoting verbal f'ng and s'ng in public?"

Henninger doesn't succumb to the temptation to mock this as hypocritcal. Which actually could be appropriate, because, as Oscar Wilde did not say (but La Rochefoucauld did), hypocrisy is the homage that vice pays to virtue.