Mouse rant blog vent mouse.

Monday, June 14, 2004

Dirty words

Great program on the concept of propriety from last week's This American Life. They dare to deliver a smackdown to the child-protection justification for censoring the radio or television. Most kids learn to curse from their parents. They interview all these kids about their curse word usage, and what's really funny is not only do the kids know to say "fuck", they also know how to use the radio-friendly euphemism "eff", like "eff you!"
The crux of the argument against government censorship is that people who don't want to have their children learn curse words need to control their own enviroment and stay out of other people's ability to access the entertainments they want. You know, "turn it off if you don't like it." And there's truth to that argument, but we needn't neglect the point that kids aren't going to get hurt by hearing the occassional "fuck" or "shit".
Ira Glass also challenges the FCC's assertion that the use of the word "fuck" invariably evokes a strong sexual image. I have to agree. That particular word clutters my spoken vocabulary far beyond what it really should, and I almost never use it to describe a sex act. I almost never hear it used that way, either. Maybe one time out of every 50 uses of the word. The interviews with the kids show that 8 year olds have a better grasp of grammar and context when it comes to swearing than the conservative lobbies or our Congressmen or the FCC has.
Usually anti-censorship types attack the right to censor, but it's nice to hear someone challenge the basic assumption that censorship is really all that necessary in children's lives.

*Of course, the second act on the show is a sop to the Republicans, a story by a whiny Republican who doesn't want to get why people might have a little anger in our current political atmosphere. But it's okay, a good lesson on why it's a bad idea to get angry with conservatives, since it makes them feel like there's something special and rebellious about standing up for the system.


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