Presentation on theme: "ShitFuck *Shit and Fuck* Language, Morality, and Politics."— Presentation transcript:
ShitFuck *Shit and Fuck* Language, Morality, and Politics
Now that I have your attention Language is composed of sound+meaning associations Speech communities are composed of individuals, who as a group, agree on sound+meaning correspondences Agreement = possible communication (if we don’t agree, we can’t communicate)
pernicious pret·ty \ ˈ pri-tē\ adj Middle English praty, prety, from Old English prættig tricky, from prætt trick; akin to Old Norse prettr trick 1 a: artful, clever 2 a: pleasing by delicacy or grace b: having conventionally accepted elements of beauty per·ni·cious \pər- ˈ ni- shəs\ adj Middle English, from Anglo-French, from Latin perniciosus, from pernicies destruction, from per- + nec-, nex violent death 1: highly injurious or destructive : deadly 2: archaic : wicked
“Look at the pernicious purple teacups on that rooster.”
Why are some words bad? Most of the people in a language community agree on the meaning, or “denotation” of words Most people in that culture also agree on the “connotation” of those words -- that includes various nuances associated with those words, such as dialect or other lect memberships, level of prestige, register, allowable context
Why are some words bad? Some words are bad because what they denote is taboo, such as sex or bodily functions Some words become bad because connotations are associated with the word In my extended family, “liberal” has come to be a bad word, said only with lip-curling, sneering, and hissing.
Why are some words bad? Cultural norms dictate what is taboo, and therefore, which words are bad. Cultural norms also dictate what is considered proper or correct. Associations with certain less prestigious groups are discouraged by the majority group, therefore usage that invokes that group is discouraged
Who is allowed to say what Group membership Why does Snoop-Dog carry an umbrella -- fo’ drizzle What does Snoop-Dog use to get his whites white -- blee-ach Who is allowed to use the N-word
Who is allowed to say what :southparkstudios.com:152624:
Who is allowed to say what Context Archaic or formulaic language in Poetry Thou art as beautiful as a summer day Religion Thy will be done, not mine
Who is allowed to say what “Ladies don’t curse” Curse words are considered too strong, powerful Cursing = man’s domain “Educated people don’t curse” Cursing = lower prestige, only poor jerks who have to work for their money can curse “Gentleman’s ain’t” - if used sparingly, cursing and improper grammar can be a reflection of power
Who is allowed to say what Teenagers: Cursing becomes a tool to throw off authority and claim power for oneself -- you’re not the boss of me -- like toddlers learning “no” Young adults: Learning when cursing is/isn’t appropriate in their specific culture and speech community
Who is allowed to say what Is excessive cursing a violation of usage standards, like non-standard grammar, or is it a violation of moral standards? It depends on whom you ask. (more on this later)
We allow government agencies to police our language Patchwork of local, state, and federal laws regulating “obscenity” Academia regulates grammar and usage, though not in an official status FCC - Federal Communications Commission -covers all “broadcast” activities
What is the FCC? Created by Fed. Communications Act of 1934 Amended by Telecommunications Act of 1996 Federal entity responsible for regulation of communications, such as radio, tv, phone, and now internet
We allow government agencies to police our language FCC v Pacifica 1973 Standards for broadcast defined Based on outcome of Supreme Court’s ruling on George Carlin’s “Filthy Words” routine Allowed “fleeting” expletives, but not pervasive or intending to shock Upheld FCC’s authority to censor
George Carlin “Filthy Words” 1973
What about the goddamn 1st Amendment? -- From the FCC: Expressions of views that do not involve a “clear and present danger of serious substantive evil” come under the protection of the Constitution. But the FCC can regulate obscenity, indecency, and profanity WTF?
More from the FCC… Obscene speech is not protected by the First Amendment to the Constitution and cannot be broadcast at any time. The Supreme Court has established that, to be considered obscene, material must meet a three- pronged test: (Miller v California, 1973)
More from the FCC… An average person, applying contemporary community standards, must find that the material, as a whole, appeals to the prurient interest; The material must depict or describe, in a patently offensive way, sexual conduct specifically defined by applicable law; and The material, taken as a whole, must lack serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value.
Prurient? pru·ri·ent adj. : marked by or arousing an immoderate or unwholesome interest or desire ; especially : marked by, arousing, or appealing to sexual desire
More from the FCC… The FCC has defined broadcast indecency as “language or material that, in context, depicts or describes, in terms patently offensive as measured by contemporary community standards for the broadcast medium, sexual or excretory organs or activities.” […] FCC rules prohibit indecent speech on broadcast radio and television between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m., when there is reasonable risk that children may be in the audience.
More from the FCC… The FCC defines profane material as “including language so grossly offensive to members of the public who actually hear it as to amount to a nuisance.” Like indecency, profane speech is prohibited on broadcast radio and television between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m.
Fox v FCC 2003 FCC fined Fox for “fleeting expletives” occurring in 2002 and 2003 Fox appealed and won in 2006, on the basis that FCC’s new standards were not justified FCC appealed - upcoming hearing in Supreme Court on Nov. 4th, 2008.
Freedom v morality Why are FCC standards becoming more restrictive? Divide over cursing and “obscenity” seems to fall more or less along the lines of political ideology. 1st amendment versus legislation of “morality” - whose morals?
What is morality? Recent psychology research suggests 5 axes of morality, though cultures place different emphasis on each Care/non-harm Justice/fairness In-group/loyalty Authority/power Purity/sanctity
What is morality? Recent psychology research also suggests an ideological divide between liberals and conservatives Care/non-harm-L. univ healthcare Justice/fairness-L. affirmative action In-group/loyalty-C. “with us or against us” Authority/power-C. Patriot Act Purity/sanctity-C. ban on gay marriage
What is morality?
Extended to language?
What about the agreement? Liberals and conservatives really are speaking different languages.
What about the agreement? Remember: Is excessive cursing a violation of usage standards, like non- standard grammar, or is it a violation of moral standards? Are they just words or expressions of moral turpitude? It depends on whom you ask. In-group/loyalty- who curses (not us) Authority/power- who is allowed to curse, traditions Purity/sanctity- taboo subjects, language “purity”
What about the agreement? The country seems polarized by this morality split, with both sides thinking the other side is “immoral” because they have different morality continua. Legislation of “morality” comes down to the same question- Whose morality? Is it fair for liberals to want to institute social justice programs based on their care+fairness axes while the other side doesn’t care as much about that kind of morality? Is it fair for conservatives to institute laws prohibiting same- sex marriage, abortion, and profanity, when the other side doesn’t care as much about that kind of morality?
What about the agreement? How do we communicate with each other?
What about the agreement? How do we communicate with each other? Fuck you --no, fuck you
To think about… How can we better communicate with each other? Why is sex considered obscene, but graphic violence and murder not? Whose morality should we legislate? Or should we?
References Carlin, George “Filthy Words.” Transcript from Federal Communications Commission website. FCC v. PACIFICA FOUNDATION, 438 U.S. 726 (1978) Full record of Supreme Court’s findings: Haidt, Jonathan Current studies of morality and politics Sheffield, Matthew. “Profanity Greater on Liberal Blogs.” The Washington Times. Aug. 7, greater-on-liberal-blogs/http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2008/aug/07/profanity- greater-on-liberal-blogs/