This editorial appeared in The Miami Herald.
In a moment of celebratory exuberance at the 2003 Golden Globe Awards, the rock star Bono exclaimed: "This is really, really f---ing brilliant!" It is fair to say that no one at the ceremony, nor those who watched on television, thought that Mr. Bono was talking about a "sexual or excretory" function. A majority of Federal Communications Commissioners, however, deemed the comment indecent - and went to battle.
As a result, a solemn assembly of U.S. Supreme Court justices spent much of the day Tuesday listening to expensive lawyers discuss the infinite nuances of curse words. Yes, they did. Really and truly.
We would think that the Supreme Court justices could find better use of their time and brainpower. Nonetheless, an FCC decision carries a good deal of clout - and the court's judgment on Mr. Bono's excited comment will set the boundaries for what is acceptable language on broadcast radio and television. So the justices dutifully weighed the lawyers' arguments about whether the word s---, for example, always conveys an excretory function, or is simply a foul exclamation.
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