I loved this story in today’s Washington Post, about the Supreme Court’s discussion of whether the government can fine television networks for a one-time, “fleeting” expletive on television. The case came about in response to Cher inadvertently(?) dropping the Queen Mother of Swears on a live awards show in 2002.
I got a kick out of government’s attorney arguing that overturning this policy could lead to “a world where the networks are free to use expletives . . . 24 hours a day,” including “Big Bird dropping the F-bomb on Sesame Street” — a hilarious bit of hyperbole — but more than anything, there’s something really funny about the Supreme Court justices trying gamely not to use the dirty words in question in the courtroom, falling back instead on more delicate terms like “F-bomb”, “freaking” and “the eff word.”
And then there was this:
…88-year-old Justice John Paul Stevens asked whether the FCC would sanction a broadcaster if the indecent remark “was really hilarious, very, very funny.” Solicitor General Gregory G. Garre said the commission would, along with “whether it’s shocking, titillating, pandering.”
“Bawdy jokes are okay, if they’re really good,” Justice Antonin Scalia cracked, to more laughter.
I don’t know how this is going to turn out, but this is one Supreme Court opinion I’m going to read. But only to see if they left in all the dirty words.