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CMS: Policing Profanity
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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.

This episode was produced with help from Jonathan McNicol.


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