Don’t read my lips

Oh, how I wish that just one station in this nation would have aired George Bush’s “shit” so that the FCC could fine them — or so that the FCC would not and we’d have standing to bring a civil rights suit against them for allowing his shit but disallowing ours. (See my defense of bullshit.)

Louis Wiley Jr., executive editor of Frontline, writes an amazing column detailing the chill on speech imposed by the FCC and the latest indecent indecency legislation:

The title of a recent e-mail from PBS caught my eye: “Editing of Coarse Language/New Practices.” Henceforth, producers would face two new requirements: (1) if a word is bleeped or wiped (silenced), the entirety of the word must be bleeped or wiped, meaning that “mother-F-word” would now have to be “bleep bleep,” and (2) if the F-word or the S-word were uttered to camera so that viewers could recognize it from the speaker’s mouth, the lips must be pixelated. . . .

It was former FCC Chairman Michael Powell who warned broadcasters about the direction of the indecency war. “The danger,” he said, “is in self-censorship.” It is no longer just a danger in my view. The reality is here. . . .

Sadly, public broadcasters have said too little about the danger. The consequence of the government’s assault on what it deems wayward commercial enterprises is to make public media pay a steep price in editorial freedom. We are becoming collateral damage in the war on indecency.

So stand up and fight, damnit.

  • “bring a civil rights suit against them for allowing his shit but disallowing ours.”

    Good luck, but I really doubt it would work. Various civil-rights/discriminiation arguments have been tried against censorware, but the courts haven’t been favorable. And with the current Supreme Court, well, I just don’t see it.

  • You have to admit, though, that Pixellated Lips is a good name for a rock band.

  • Eileen

    Let’s focus on some REAL SHIT for a change, eh?

    I notice you haven’t written much about the ‘latest’ Islamofascist CRAP in Israel/Lebanon/Gaza. Even one post?

    Jeff, why do you write for/support Al-Guardian, a rabid terrorist supporting organization?

    Would you like to see my letter to the editor of GuardianUnlimited yesterday? I’d be happy to share it with you.. Heh.

    As you pontificate about the word ‘shit’ on the airwaves – BFD, really -, at the same time that you SUPPORT Terrorist-Supporting MSM SHIT every time you associate in any way with that bastion of Islamofascist Boot Licking Satanic Sharia Law Slime Supporting Al-Guardian.

    I ask you: what is more important in this day and age, eh, Jeff?

    I actually used to think you were better than that. One is known by the company he keeps. As long as you cozy up to that particular terrorist supporting network, your words on pretty much any other topic run hollow in my book.

  • Eileen


    Make that Israel/Lebanon/Gaza/Syria/IRAN.

    You know, REAL issues regarding big time SHIT.

  • Eileen

    One more thing before I sleep:

    August 22nd seems to be a ‘big day’ in the book of Islam and the little punk ruler of Iran. He’s been rallying the troops about the great celebration to come in the Islamic world between now and then…………..

    Beware. You don’t even know the extent of the SHIT we’re all about to experience.

    I hope you, Jeff, will realize your ‘alliance’ with Al-Guardian was (albeit lucrative) a very, very, very bad mistake.

    I wish you Godspeed.

  • Don’t sugarcoat things Eileen. Tell us how you really feel.

  • You are right, Jeff, and there’s a wonderful cartoon by Bill Day of what ‘is’ and ‘isn’t’ considered profane. Your censorship function wouldn’t let me put up the site reference, so here’s a hint. The deaths in Iraq aren’t profane, “s***” is.

  • FH

    Jeff –

    I happened to be working from the house on the day of “shit” and although they aren’t an over the air network I found it fascinating how cnn handled it. Initially when the story broke they played the clip and included “shit”, they even included it in their transcription. Later in the day however they had muted him saying it and %*#@ the word or something like that.

    I’m an avid rss reader so keep up the good work and BTW if you think Dell is bad as a customer let me just say someone very dear to me used to work there and it’s worse on the inside than the outside, which I’m sure you don’t have a hard time believing…

  • Rob

    Jeff, I don’t understand this rabid desire of yours to degrade the tone of public discourse. We need less “shit” in public discourse, not more.

    There are oodles of places where you can say any damned thing you like, no matter how coarse or disgusting. Why not have one area – broadcast media – where the tone is raised to something we can be proud of? Shouldn’t there be one niche where a person can watch television with their grandmother and kids and not have to worry about what’s going to be said next?

    As Orwell made a career out of pointing out, words matter. Coarse and degrading words never elevate debate. There aren’t any such thing as “bad” words, of course, but there are (and should be) times and places where certain words are impolite. Free speech is important, but I don’t remember one instance in the Federalist Papers where someone is called a “shithead”.

  • AJ

    WNYC broadcast the exchange ‘unbleeped’ from All Things Considered. I thought the same thing: I hope the FCC heard that.

    Story here.

  • Ironically, Comedy Central’s The Daily Show aired the film segment unbleeped, but bleeped Jon Steart when he repeated the comment.

  • Ruth,
    Well, that’s embarrassing. I’m testing to see whether I can say shit. If not, I’ll try to fix it.

  • I guess I can.

  • Aside from actuality news feeds the “indecency” issue is easily handled.
    Someone just publishes a concordance and then we all use the acceptable word. Here’s my initial contribution:

    Shit – sauerkraut
    Bullshit – Banana cream pie
    Fuck – Fudge ripple ice cream

    feel free to add your own suggestions…

    As I’ve said before what is underlying this “indecency” push is the implicit fundamentalist belief that blasphemy is a sin. Apparently God can’t take it if some one takes his name in vain.

  • Now if some one wants to protest, can you be fined, Jeff? No, it wasn’t evidently censoring my language, just the use of a link.

  • Eileen

    Rich Drees,

    I’m sure you’ll understand why I didn’t even click on your link.

  • Somehow, Eileen, in the face of a screaming maniac who throws around accusations without any kind of sourcing, explanation or apparant point announcing that she will not visit my movie history themed website, I will attempt to struggle on…

  • Eileen

    Well Rich, first you accused me of being too clear, and then for not being clear enough.

    If you did something besides watch movies – like read, for example – perhaps you wouldn’t be so confused.

  • Well, Eileen, the first post was sarcastic. I’m sure wikipedia could help you with the concept, if you’re having trouble. The point is you started throwing around some claims, without bothering to document them.

    And may I remark at how remarkable you are to some how ascertain that since I run a website about film, that is the only thing I occupy my time with. I certainly don’t take at least an hour each day to peruse several news sources, or spend time teaching ballroom dancing, or going out to jazz clubs and lindyhopping with friends or a myrid of other things that would make me a multi-facted person.

    Fortunately, I’m not going to judge you by just the few posts you’ve made in this thread, because I’d hate to think that you were such a shrill shrewish woman, if only for the sake of those around you.

  • Eileen

    Oh geez, drees. You really take an hour a day to read?

    Perhaps you could educate yourself about Al-Guardian for about two minutes of that hour in your day. Yes, drees, I ‘cited it’ in my first post.

    I don’t have either the time or inclination to educate you further, asshole.

  • No Eileen, I said “at least an hour” a day. And that’s just for news. I also try to find time for reading for pleasure be it a novel, short story collection (Harlan Ellison is a favorit there) or a book on film history. Oft times, other concerns enter into my schedule, such as my day job in the education finance field, my teaching schedule or just wanting to spend time with my girlfriend and friends.

    While you did mention “al-Guardian” in your first post and accussed them of being “a rabid terrorist supporting organization” you did not support that claim with a series of citations of editorials and then provide a counterpoint to support your accusation.

    Honestly, the use of your term “al-Guardian” is what sours me on anything you have to say. It reeks of being purposefully incendiary without actually offering any real content to the discussion. Much like Rush Limbaugh’s beloved “femmi-nazi,” it is a bit of empty rhetoric, attempting to be sound and fury, but symbolizing nothing. In fact, since the word does seem to be a bad attempt at a pun as well, I would hazard a guess that it probably originated with Limbaugh.

    (On a tangental note, I would caution against using Limbaugh as a source for any future debate anyone would get into. From the mid-90s book “Rush Limbaugh’s Reign Of Error” to almost daily postings about him at Media Matters, Limbaugh’s reliability for credibile information is pretty low. Even a casual listen to his program with Google at the ready, as I have sometimes done, reveals his rather fluid use of facts.)

    by the way, since I am not related to the poet e. e. cummings, I would ask that you capitalize the first letter of my last night from here on out. Thanks!

  • Eileen

    Perhaps I’ll capitalize when you show a modicum of respect and refrain from childish name calling.

    As I said, I don’t have either the time or inclination to educate you further, asshole.


    What I wrote is self-evident and needs no further citation. And no, I don’t even get radio reception to listen in to Rush. Nice trees where I live.

    Nor, dweeb, do I – or will I ever – jump when you say how high. You also need to work on your spelling skills.

  • Telling me to just read The Guardian is not really providing specific examples in support of your arguement. Was their football/soccer coverage biased towards Lebanon/against Israel in their World Cup coverage? Is there some hidden message in that Heat Wave story that’s the lead in their science section? There’s a story about Amazon starting to carry groceries on line, perhaps that’s some terrorist plot. Is there something anti-semitic in the new design exhibit at the Tate?

    You made an accusation and then failed to provide any concrete, specific examples. If you had stated “Well, look at their editorials published on such-and-such dates, coupled with these news articles – notice certain word choices here and here – one could indeed presume a bias towards the terrorist’s viewpoint,” I’d be more inclined to at least consider what you have to say. However, your repition of the not-all-that-funny slur “Al-Guardian” makes me dismissive of anything you have to say on the matter. I’d rather misspell a few words here and there than have poor debating skills.

    Also, not sure where I engaged in childish name calling. I did describe your posts as shrill and shrewish, but you’ll note that I said I would not presume to extend that description onto you as a person. You, however, have called me an asshole. Twice. I can’t help but recall the words of our parish priest growing up who said, “Everytime you point a finger at someone else, three more fingers point back at you.”

  • Eileen

    I suggest you look at yourself in the mirror, drees, re pointing fingers, the repercussions thereof and all that good ROT. I suggest you begin by reviewing your own posts to me from start to finish.

    For the third time: [don’t read my lips], drees,

    “”””I don’t have either the time or inclination to educate you further.””””

    Shall I translate further?

    1. I am not required to provide additional citations to support my opinion as clearly stated here.

    2. I could give a flying FIG that you decide to therefore be ‘dismissive’ of that opinion, dweeb.

    3. I don’t choose to debate you.

    4. I’m not your dhimmi.

    5. I will never jump when you say how high (i.e., don’t read my lips take two).

    6. Your presumptuousness about your purported intellectual superiority, your lecturing and your holier than thou rhetoric is laughable at best.

    7. You mischaracterizations about your very own words to me are laughable at best.

    8. I laugh at you, asshole.

    I’ll let you know when I feel you’re worthy of name capitalization.

  • Great article.
    Dating Service