Apologies for the nature of this post and for diverging from the news dujour, but Fox reported yesterday that the FCC is giving Bono (lead singer of U2) a pass on his use of the "F" word during last Januarys Golden Globe Awards. As might have been expected, parent groups and conservative media watchdogs objected and petitioned the FCC to slap Bonos wrist. But, for rather unsettling reasons, the FCC has ignored their plea, "ruling that Bono used the vulgarity as an adjective or to emphasize an exclamation and that the use of specific words, including expletives or other four-letter words does not render material obscene."
Now, I understand that a slip of the tongue may not really merit a stiff penalty, and even that circustances can be taken into account on such things (Bono had just won an award and was expressing his surprise), but what bothers me is the FCCs rationale. To say that using the "F" word as an adjective or for emphasis makes it an innocuous exclamation and not obscene is just begging for Howard Stern and all the television screenwriters to throw it around as an "adjective."
I once heard a former National Review editor give a speech on the history of the F-word in which he explained that it can be used in a single sentence as a noun, verb, adjective, adverb and, yes, an expletive. So to say that the word is acceptable so long as its not used as an expletive or in an offensively "descriptive manner" underestimates the nature of the word itself.