Arts & Culture

Philadelphia Inquirer Getting It Done Linguistically

For whatever reasons, some subset of the American population continues to dwell on profanity as if it were something worthy of paying anything more than the slightest degree of attention to. On Tuesday, the Federal Communications Commission spent the morning … Read More

By / November 4, 2008

For whatever reasons, some subset of the American population continues to dwell on profanity as if it were something worthy of paying anything more than the slightest degree of attention to. On Tuesday, the Federal Communications Commission spent the morning making its case to the Supreme Court that it has the authority to levy fines against FOX and the other major networks for instances in which people curse on live TV. The case had previously been thrown out by the Federal Appeals Court in New York, but the FCC has persisted, elevating its case to the highest court in the nation. The arguments as to why the War on Words is ridiculous have all been said and done, from the late George Carlin to the life’s work of Alan Abel. What’s funny is that people are now seemingly losing interest and the FCC’s crusade appears to be compensatory, a desperate plea for its own existence. A recent example of absent-minded spontaneous swearing occurred during the Philadelphia Phillies’ World Series victory parade last week, when the team’s All-Star second baseman, Chase Utley, pumped his fists in the air and proclaimed the Phillies, “World Fucking Champions!” Utley’s profane utterance echoes similar incidents involving Cher, Dick Cheney and Bono. The Philadelphia Inquirer’s coverage of the nonevent seems to echo the reaction that I imagine the majority of the public shares at this point: After proclaiming "World champions!" at the Phillies’ celebration at Citizens Bank Park, the smiling second baseman leaned into the microphone and inserted a familiar two-syllable profanity between "world" and "champions." The crowd loved it, erupting into cheers for several minutes. Local TV and radio stations covering the event live, however, were less amused. Utley’s utterance was heard on all of them, and the Federal Communications Commission doesn’t take kindly to cursing… Fans at Citizens Bank Park generally were unfazed. "They hear worse stuff in school," said Ivette Centeno, 44, of Northeast Philadelphia, there with her two children and two grandchildren. "As a parent, we can explain that it was just excitement, and that we don’t want them to say that." Malik Muhammad, 29, of West Philadelphia, there with his daughter, Tia, 6, and Tia’s mother, Tamika Taylor, 28, called the remark "surprising, but I can’t say it disturbed us…” "I thought it was awesome," Steve Reinhardt said. "It got the loudest applause of the day."