Monday, June 15, 2009

Supreme Prudery

Back in April when the Supreme Court upheld the FCC's ability to regulate "fleeting expletives," I (and others) noted the irony in the Court failing to actually use the words "fuck" or "shit," in comparison to earlier Court decisions that did so. Turns out, that wasn't by accident, at least according to some remarks last week from Justice Ginsburg (via PrawfsBlawg):

During her speech Friday Ginsburg reviewed the Fox case and said, 'the words, I'm told, were spoken' at the 2nd Circuit argument. Then came the disclosure. Matter-of-factly she added, 'the lawyers were alerted that some of the justices might find that unseemly, so only the letters 'f' and 's' were used in our court.'
The sensitive Justices were not named.

I've never been a fan of courts bowlderize dirty words in opinions. If the defendant, whose conviction and decades long sentence you're affirming, said "fuck" in some relevant statement, at least let him have his own words. Don't "f***" it, or whatever. That's doubly true when the words themselves are the heart of the case, as they were in the FCC decision.

They're only words, people. They will not rob you, rape you, or kill you. There's no need to handle them, or the public, with kid gloves.

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