Censorship of so-called ‘bad’ language is both rampant and pointless. Everyone knows exactly what those so-called ‘bad words’ are, including and especially those who rant against them, and are in favor of censorship in the first place!
When you see a TV show, and the ‘bad words’ are bleeped out, no one is fooled. Anyone watching knows perfectly well, or can make a reasonably good guess as to the exact word(s) that were bleeped!
The same goes for the written word in cyberspace. There are oh, so many internet sites that ‘do not tolerate’ what is termed as ‘foul language.’ No matter. There are a myriad of work-arounds, and again, most everyone knows them, and no one is fooled.
“Oh, hell,” is probably one of the most common and least offensive of the lot. But who among you does not know perfectly well that seeing “h-e- double hockey sticks,” or “h-e- double toothpicks.” is exactly the same thing? Ass is another that is frequently seen disguised as “a**,” or, if the entire and usual phrase is intended, then “A-H” is a common substitute, as is “A-hole.” In any event, it is the use of the word that is in error, and no fault of the word. An ass is a donkey, while the original (from British origins) term for one's derriere is 'arse.'
I’ve been in chats at sites where they censor the most ridiculous things, and instead of just 'blocking' the so-called 'bad word' and leaving a blank space, or "...." they substitute a 'correction,' as if to say, "we're sure this is the word you really meant!" One such chat room, (if someone should be so "horrible" as to type out the entire a-hole word), inserts in its place, "...fantastic whole."
This more often than not alters the entire meaning of the sentence or statement, e.g., "That man is an asshole," has a fundamentally different--(polar opposite!)--meaning than, "That man is a fantasic whole." Not to mention the substitution does not actually make any sense. This truly is an insult to folks' intelligence!
(Besides, this is not a site used by kids--we are all adults there! [No, not "that kind" of adult site], but one where you are responsible for carrying out your end of a contract made with a buyer, so must be over 18 to do so.)
In this same chat room, I once thought I had made a typo, because “dorkens” came up on the screen. HUH? I tried again, being very careful. Nope. No typo. Same thing! Hmm… so, I was not allowed to make the statement, “I had a dickens of a time….” it came out, "I had a dorkens of a time." There is no such word.
Apparently, the internal censor picked up on the first four letters in the word. Well, excuuuuuuse me! Have the programmers who decided to flag that never heard of the author, Charles Dickens? Are they unaware that ‘dickens’ is an alternate of ‘devil.’ (I could have as easily said that I’d had “the devil of a time…” ) Do they not know that “Dick” is a legitimate man’s nickname? Yes, it is. In fact, I had a geology professor whose name was Dick …. and no, he did not go by “Richard,” or “Rick.” (WHY ‘Dick’ evolved as a nickname for Richard, I’ll never know, and is not the point of this article), but it is in the mix, and the "workaround" is "D*ick." Pretty lame, eh?
It is no one’s fault today that someone long ago decided to use the personal name as a euphemism for a part of the male anatomy, and thence to an insult applied to calling someone out by that term. The name was there first. Ergo, it should not be subjected to such silly censoring!
Among the newest work-arounds that easily sneak by is “WTF,” found in wide circulation on the internet and in text and instant messages. Virtually everyone knows what it stands for, yet the ‘propriety programs’ don’t catch it. See what I mean? You cannot see that set of letters without your brain filling in exactly what each individual letter stands for. So much for censorship: might as well have spelled it all out.
We also hear about "f-bombs" as the latest euphemism for that well-known word. Again, everyone knows exactly what word is meant, so what's the point of using the euphemism? Now, before I get accused of being someone "...who wants to hear or see that kind of language," no, I'm not in search of it. I simply don't care. I don't let it bother me. I say it myself if the occasion demands (such as when striking the thumb with a hammer). There are more important things about which to get incensed. I do not, in fact, enjoy a steady stream of so-called "f-bombs."
Years back, I went to see a movie that was supposed to be a comedy, titled, White Men Can't Jump. There was not much of a plot. Instead, it seemed to be an exercise in how many times the writers could cram "the f-word" into a single sentence, almost every sentence, throughout the movie. Was I offended? No. What I was, was bored. It was stupid, and made the writers and characters appear stupid for having no more extensive vocabulary than that.
If the whole point of censoring content is to ‘protect’ overly-sensitive people from seeing/hearing ‘objectionable’ words, that goal is in vain, precisely because of all these well-known substitutes.
As far as ‘protecting’ children? Oh, please! Most kids hear and see far worse at school (yes, even at private schools), and could actually educate their parents as to new vulgarities! My 13-year-old grandson let slip with one just recently. He referred to a world-traveling slut well known to all males by the name of “Palmula Handerson.” I’m sure you can figure it out! And that was actually mild. Many people would be shocked to learn of what their kids actually know, and at what young ages they know! Those pro-censorship folks live in denial, (and I don't mean a river in Africa).
We need to wake people up, and learn to live and let live. Some people are going to say words others don’t like. Too bad! Get over it! They are just words, and can do no harm. Remember the antique saying, “sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me?” It’s the same exact principle. If the dialogue in a TV show offends, we can change the channel ourselves. It’s easy--we have remote controls these days--we no longer have to get up and walk across the room to do so. If the website or chat room contains language we don’t like—it’s as easy as a mouse click to escape; no need to hang around posting rants and raves about it--just leave!
Having rules and regulations and laws to “protect” people from things they can very well do for themselves is both cumbersome and counter-productive. It is a waste of energy, resources and money that could be far better put to use elsewhere. This so-called "protection" is actually an erosion of our first amendment right to freedom of speech.
To expect the government, or any of its agencies (in the case of TV shows, the FCC is the guilty party), to prevent anyone from hearing already well-known words and phrases is not only dangerous, but the height of laziness. Remember what has been said: “A government big enough to give you everything is big enough to take it away.” Let’s not give up our freedom of speech to those who like to live in a bubble.
To sum up, in the end, any attempt at censorship of ‘bad language,’ ‘bad words,’ vulgarities, or what have you, is a ludicrous exercise in futility.
I go into a bit more detail on the FCC role in my article on Hub Pages: (click here)