Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Reading the law could send you to jail.

Over at The New Republic the ever fascinating Steven Pinker has an article on swear words. And while the article is interesting it is information in the article that I found amusing.

California Congressman Doug Ose introduced legislation to ban certain words from the airwaves. Ose is a Republican, of course. Apparently the self-indulgent singer Bono received an Golden Globe Award and said: “This is really, really, fucking brillant.” And the FCC decided that since “fucking” was a modifying word for brillant it didn’t actually mean sexual intercourse and therefore was not obscene. I still find the idea that sex is “obscene” to be bizarre.

The Theopublican loonies got all upset because they wanted Bono and the network burned at the stake. How silly. That would never be allowed. First, the no smoking regulations would prevent it and the whole thing would give off “green house gases” and that would send Al Gore in and then everyone would be punished by having to listen to another of Rev. Al’s sermons. You can’t punish an entire group of people because one “celebrity” said “fucking”.

What I found amusing is that Ose laws stipulates in very precise terms the words that can’t be used. It describe the banned words thusly:
the words "shit", "piss", "fuck", "cunt", "asshole", and the phrases "cock sucker", "mother fucker", and "ass hole", compound use (including hyphenated compounds) of such words and phrases with each other or with other words or phrases, and other grammatical forms of such words and phrases (including verb, adjective, gerund, participle, and infinitive forms).
Pinker notes that it bans the word in various forms such as a verb or adjective. But the word as Bono used it was an adverb, one form of speech that the law didn’t ban. So obviously Ose didn’t even get the law written correctly to do what he wanted to do. But here is what I find amusing: the law would make it illegal to read the law on the air!

If a news reporter spoke about the ban and went to explain to people what words are banned he couldn’t tell them. Can a law make it illegal to read the law on the air?

Of course there are Republican like George Bush who would like there to be laws that no body is allowed to read. You might remember that the disgusting Patriot Act was passed by Congress without anyone ever reading it at all. But if voters who know nothing about candidates can put them into office then why can’t office holders vote for legislation that no one has seen?

I would have loved to see someone interview Ose and ask him what words would be banned from use on the air. Better yet I would ask him if someone could be prosecuted for reading the law that he wrote.

If you wonder why I think virtually all politicians are morons I submit Congressman Ose as partial evidence. Actually that is not entirely correct. In his case I think he's a fucking moron.

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