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How George Carlins Filthy Words Gave the Government the Power toGOVERNMENT REGULATIONS ON RADIO BROADCASTINGIn 1978 a radio station owned by Pacifica Foundation Broadcasting out ofYork City was doing a program on contemporary attitudes toward the use oflanguage This broadcast occurred on a mid-afternoon weekday Immediatelybefore the broadcast the station announced a disclaimer telling listenersthat the program would include sensitive language which might be regardedoffensive to someGunther 1991 As a part of the program the stationdecided to air a 12 minute monologue called Filthy Words by comedianCarlin The introduction of Carlins routine consisted of according toCarlin words you couldnt say on the public air wavesCarlin 1977 Theintroduction to Carlins monologue listed those words and repeated them inI was thinking about the curse words and the swear words the cuss wordsthe words that you cant say that youre not supposed to say all the timeI was thinking one night about the words you couldnt say on the publicairwaves um the ones you definitely wouldnt say ever Bastard you cansay and hell and damn so I have to figure out which ones you couldnt andever and it came down to seven but the list is open to amendment and infact has been changed uh by now The original seven words were censoredpiss censored cunt cocksucker mothercensoreder and tits Those are the onesthat will curve your spine grow hair on your hands and maybe even bringGod help us peace without honor and a bourbon Carlin 1977A man driving with his young son heard this broadcast and reported it toFederal Communications Commission FCC This broadcast of Carlins FilthyWords monologue caused one of the greatest and most controversial cases inthe history of broadcasting The case of the FCC v Pacifica FoundationThe outcome of this case has had a lasting effect on what we hear on theThis landmark case gave the FCC the power to regulate radio broadcastsare indecent but not obscene Gunther 1991 What does that meanAccording to the government
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