Seven Dirty Words - On October 30, 1973, radio
station WBAI-FM broadcast a recording of comedian George Carlin with his now
famous "Seven Dirty Words You Can Never Say on Television" routine.
shit, ("I'm shit face. I'm shit face, tonight!") piss, fuck, ("Kind of a proud
word. I am FUCK! FUCK of the Mountain!") cunt, cocksucker, mother-fucker, and
tit were consequently transmitted over the public airwaves.
The seven little
words ("the one's that will curve your spine, grow hair on your knuckles")
however were not appreciated by one New York City listener who objected that her
young child was privy to the indecent words.
The FCC later ruled that the
broadcast of the "seven dirty words" was in violation of its obscenity statutes.
The FCC ruling was later overturned by the Court of Appeals in March of 1977 but
later reaffirmed by the Supreme Court in July, 1978 who stated that the FCC
still had the power to ban what it considered to be "patently offensive"
language (despite First Amendment considerations).
In 1994, the FOX network
actually promoted their April 24 episode of THE GEORGE CARLIN SHOW on which
George uttered a famous four-letter word seven times after another taxi driver
cuts him off. The words were bleeped, of course.
TRIVIA NOTE: Former lawyer, John Mortimer whose novels inspired the British
legal drama THE RUMPOLE OF THE BAILEY/THA/1977-92 was responsible for a landmark
censorship case in his homeland of England. In 1960, Penguin Books published the
unexpurgated edition of D. H. Lawrence's "Lady Chatterley's Lover" and was
charged with publishing obscene literature.
Mortimer argued the case and it was dismissed on the grounds that the charges
were unfounded. The book was ruled "literary" and, although sexually
descriptive, was not necessarily "prurient."
The case changed the definition of obscenity and pornography in England at the
time and is now required reading for those studying to become barristers in
In June 6, 2006, a Business Week online article by Steve McKee reported the
"Five Words Never To Use In An Ad." They are: Quality, Value, Service, Caring
and Integrity. The reason? These words have become empty clichés. All of these
themes are understood to be inherent in a good product. As the article concluded
"Those that win the hearts and minds of the consumer don't talk the talk, they
walk the walk."
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