Episode Information

CMS: Policing Profanity
Aired:
05/03/2010
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In this episode:

Schools are struggling with how to regulate language in the digital age. Are "swearing fines" an answer?

 

Episode Audio

49:30 minutes (23.76 MB)
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The writer Steve Rushin has a great expression for those ellipses in print that say things like "F-----g." He calls it obscene hangman, after the old fill-in-the-letters game.

That's funny, and it points out the absurdity - or perhaps the quaintness - of pretending that inviting you to complete the word is somehow really different from simply writing the word.  On weeknights, the audio equivalent of that is Jon Stewart - and less frequently Steven Colbert - swearing like a couple of dock workers while each cuss is bleeped out. Sort of. 
 
After a while, you kind of wonder what we're accomplishing. I really do believe that we benefit, psycholinguistically, from having two moods or modes of speech - polite and impolite. And certain words NEED to be forbidden, because it means certain things when we use them. We spend a lot of time in a kind of gray zone. Polite impoliteness.
 
You can join the conversation. Should administrators be allowed to regulate bad language in schools? What about online? Call us. 860-275-7266, e-mail colin@wnpr.org or Tweet us @wnprcolin.

This episode was produced with help from Jonathan McNicol.

 


 
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