Fischer Wants to Ban Profanity


Bryan Fischer’s man-crush on Vladimir Putin includes not only support for his anti-gay brutality but for a new law in Russia that bans profanity “at arts, cultural and entertainment events.” Fischer says we can and should do that here and the First Amendment won’t be violated in the least.

You make a film with obscene language in Russia, you won’t even be able to show it in a theater. Books, CDs and DVDs that contain profanity will have to be distributed in a sealed package with a visible warning label.

Violators are subject to fine of $70, while potty-mouthed officials can be dinged to the tune of $40 and businesses that are guilty can face fines of up to $1,400.

The new law, scheduled to go into effect on July 1, echoes the prohibition against blasphemy found in the Ten Commandments (“You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain”) and will provide another example in which Russia’s public policy conforms more closely to biblical standards than Christian America.

Could a similar ban be instituted in the United States without violating the First Amendment? Of course. The free-speech plank of the First Amendment was intended by the Founders to protect political speech, not profanity, vulgarity, obscenity or pornography.

The Founders were eager to ensure that the new republic would be characterized by robust political dialogue on all matters of public policy. All would be free to inject their ideas and convictions into public debate without fear that they would be censored and silenced by a draconian central government.

But the Founders would be aghast at the thought that anyone, anywhere, at any time would think they were crafting a document intended to allow the unlimited use of the F-bomb in polite society.

Since this seems like a perfect place for a bit of profanity: Total bullshit. Fischer’s ignorance of the meaning of the First Amendment is nearly legendary; this is a guy, after all, who claims that only Christians are guaranteed religious freedom by that amendment. As for the founding fathers, is he not familiar with Ben Franklin’s often-ribald writings, like Advice to a Young Man on the Choice of a Mistress? As a bookseller, Franklin sold many books that were filled with what Fischer would undoubtedly consider to be obscene.

The notion that the First Amendment protects only political speech is both ignorant and extremely dangerous. Robert Bork tried to claim the same thing and he was equally full of shit. There is simply no evidence at all for this claim and much evidence against it. It’s also completely unworkable. Even if it were true, all one would have to do to avoid censorship is to attach a political claim to the end of a profane work, like the advocacy of free speech itself, which is clearly a political position.

This is just another example of Fischer’s authoritarian and theocratic tendencies. It’s quite ridiculous that such tendencies are found particularly in those who scream most loudly and ignorantly about freedom when it doesn’t apply.

Comments

  1. dhall says

    Sounds like yet another feature of the late 19th century, when the Woodhull sister’s newsletter, containing articles about contraception and other such things landed them in jail, and the post office was given the authority not to deliver mail that its supervisors deemed inappropriate. But we do seem to be heading into another Gilded Age, if we’re not already there. A vastly wealthy upper crust in control of just about everything that matters, and a working class distracted by bread and circus strategies–and what passes for piety–and otherwise left to fight each other over the scraps. I believe that Hollywood was censored at least up through the 1930s, although it might have been through the 40’s too, as a result of the do-gooders and their efforts to protect our delicate sensibilities.

  2. chisaihana5219 says

    Bryan Fischer should be deported to the Russia he loves so much. He’d have to convert to Russian Orthodox Christianity, as that is the only “true” religion allowed there. Then he could live happily ever after. I’d be willing to help pay his airfare. Let’s crowd source the relocation of all the “Putin lovers”. Of course, Putin really doesn’t want them either. Too, too bad.

  3. says

    It’s about time that someone enacted a law to cut down this profanity. It’ll save me tons of cash on all these god damn pearls I’m always clutching. Plus, my fucking fainting couch is all worn out.

  4. gingerbaker says

    Are you trying to say that profanity is as protected as political speech? Because that is certainly not true.

    We have laws, which are not deemed unconstitutional, which restrict profanity according to community standards all over the place. Titties on magazine covers or prime time TV- sorry, no. George Carlin had something to say about language and mass media.

    I daresay Fischer’s proposal would pass muster in many localities and situations. Including here at FreeThoughtblogs – where certain types of profanity will not be tolerated.

  5. matty1 says

    Wouldn’t a lot of what the American founders themselves wrote been considered profane and blasphemous by many at the time?

  6. colnago80 says

    Re dhall @ #1

    Censorship in Hollywood was enforced by the Hays Commission (see attached link). Much of the force behind the code which the commission enforced was the Raping Children Church. Basically, a seal of approval from the commission was required in order for most movie theaters to display a film. An example of the type of depictions that were forbidden was showing a man and a woman occupying the same bed.

    Most of the producers and studio heads, who were heavily Jewish, went along with the code because of fear of stoking antisemitism if they didn’t. Among others, director Otto Preminger, who was a refugee from Schickelgruber, broke the code which was abandoned in the late 1960s, to be eventually replaced with the rating system that exists today. Of course, effective censorship still exists today as very few theaters will show X rated films. With the advent of DVDs and the Internet, the current code is becoming ineffectual as as many movies are non-rated for DVD distribution with the segments that would cause an X rating edited out for theater showing.

    http://goo.gl/syPQdJ

  7. dingojack says

    No way –
    Get fucked –
    Fuck off

    Traditional* audience response:
    Am I ever Gonna See Your Face Again? – The Angels

    Dingo
    ——–
    * Sorry Bryan, Greece vs Galloway makes it clear the Federal Law (as embodied in the Constitution) can only regulate things that are not traditional. And the above certainly is.

  8. says

    Including here at FreeThoughtblogs – where certain types of profanity will not be tolerated.

    I think you are confusing profanity with derogatory language. It’s not the “fuck” in “fuckt*rd” that’s the problem.

  9. says

    @ gingerbaker

    I daresay Fischer’s proposal would pass muster in many localities and situations. Including here at FreeThoughtblogs – where certain types of profanity will not be tolerated.

    You’re confusing government restriction, which is what Fischer is calling for, with private action. Wanting to maintain some level of civility on a blog is not the same as the government banning speech. Your right to cuss up a storm is not in any way infringed by FtB. Have at it — on your own dime. FtB doesn’t owe you a platform to say whatever you feel like.

    One of the problems with profanity in a blog like this is that it can mask the underlying, and more important, discourse. It can be useful for emphasis, but it can take over the entire discussion. Nobody here is claiming that the profanity is a sign of serious moral decay, just a distraction.

  10. pacal says

    The deep hatred that people like Bryan Fischer have for America and all it stands for is limitless.

  11. Ellie says

    Bryan Fischer, the coward, is IMO, a profanity who frequently takes the Lord’s name in vain — specifically when he claims to speak for God. I think he should indeed move to Russia. He obviously hates his own country…why does he stay here? The answer is because here he is protected by the government he hates and is also protected within the boundaries of the White Evangelical Tribal Gatekeepers who will keep him safe as long as he continues to spew hatred. He has a secure place there and would not have such security would he take action and move to the country he claims to admire so much.

  12. says

    Bryan Fischer loves his country. The problem is that it’s a fantasy country constructed in his and others’ minds. He spends all his time bewailing the fact that we don’t measure up to his fantasies.

  13. caseloweraz says

    You know, I think it’s a fine idea for Bryan Fischer to call for the U.S. to emulate Vladimir Putin, for Putin is a fine upstanding Christian man who silences detractors, jails political opponents on trumped-up charges, and has apparently had reporters beaten up or killed.

    I think it’s a fine idea because it shows Fischer for who he is.

  14. sigurd jorsalfar says

    If profanity were illegal, how would a wingnut be able to tell when his opponent has just lost the argument?

  15. D. C. Sessions says

    Wouldn’t a lot of what the American founders themselves wrote been considered profane and blasphemous by many at the time?

    We have a tendency to look at the trends going backwards from now to the Victorian era and project it as a monotonic historical procession. Ain’t nearly so, folks. For one thing, the British middle-class Victorians weren’t as uptight as the imitators this side of the Pond, and the middle-class English Victorians were much more (hypocritically) straightlaced than either the upper class or the poor.

    Part of this is that the published word has always tended to be a bit more restrained than spoken. Shakespeare as published might be bawdy, but as my Shakespeare professor reminded us, the play as acted was subject to quite a bit of extemporaneous embellishment, both verbal and physical.

    Get back to the 18th century and earlier and unremarkable public speaking and written works would set off terminal fainting and pearl-clutching all over the USA today. (And never forget that the USA is vastly more prone to fainting at the sight a nipple than almost any other part of the world where people don’t have mullahs making public policy.)

  16. dan4 says

    @6: “Titties on magazine covers or prime time TV-sorry, no.”

    What does that have to do with “profanity?”

  17. Michael Heath says

    ArtK writes:

    Bryan Fischer loves his country. The problem is that it’s a fantasy country constructed in his and others’ minds. He spends all his time bewailing the fact that we don’t measure up to his fantasies.

    I’ve encountered no evidence that Bryan Fischer can love or has loved.

  18. howardhershey says

    What the f***. You mean I won’t be able to call Bryan Fischer an asshole unless he runs for office, when it automatically becomes political speech.

  19. gingerbaker says

    “You’re confusing government restriction, which is what Fischer is calling for, with private action.”

    And you are confusing special pleading for blogs with philosophical consistency. We already have governmental restrictions on profanity and have had for decades.What he is proposing is nothing new. What is new is the irony of a blogger decrying a call for profanity restrictions on a blog group which has profanity restrictions.

    Both Fischer and FTB are misguided here, imo.

  20. cptdoom says

    I love that he completely confuses profanity with blasphemy. F*ck is very different from Goddamn in terms of what is blasphemous and seeing as praying in the wrong church or using the wrong version of the Bible can be considered blasphemous, a ban on that would totally negate the First Amendment protection of religious freedom. And which profanity shall we ban? Are bloody and bollocks ok because they’re only profane in Britain? Shall we bran frack because its a substitute for f*ck?

    @1 & @8 Vito Russo’s Celluloid Closet, both the book and documentary, do a great job of describing how the Hayes Code was broken in the early 60s with the frank depiction of homosexuality in film.

  21. blf says

    Who decides if feck or fuck is “illegal” ?

    Will a list of banned words be published? If so, how is it the list itself is not banned? And if not, then how do you know saying or writing “[redacted]” will provoke a trial and penalty?

  22. matty1 says

    @18 point taken but I was thinking more of the blasphemous element of things like Jefferson’s rejections of the trinity or more on point since they were published in his lifetime Tom Paine’s writings on deism.

    It is my understanding that you are right about general prudery. It seems to have reached a climax sometime in the late 19th or early 20th century in a lot of places and while it has dribbled away since we have yet to return to the more healthy attitudes found in Shakespeare and Chaucer.

  23. Al Dente says

    gingerbaker @22

    What is new is the irony of a blogger decrying a call for profanity restrictions on a blog group which has profanity restrictions.

    As Kamaka @10 noted, you’re confusing profanity with sexist, racist and other bigoted words. You can say fuck, shit and asshole all you want. If you call someone a c*nt or a n*gg*r you will have your ass handed to you by the commentariat.

  24. says

    Al Dente “If you call someone a c*nt or a n*gg*r you will have your ass handed to you by the commentariat.”
    Cent nagger? What is that, French?

  25. zmidponk says

    Al Dente:

    As Kamaka @10 noted, you’re confusing profanity with sexist, racist and other bigoted words. You can say fuck, shit and asshole all you want. If you call someone a c*nt or a n*gg*r you will have your ass handed to you by the commentariat.

    Not only that, but there is the simple fact that the extent of your punishment will be getting your ass handed to you, and, depending on circumstances, Ed may feel it’s appropriate to remove your comment and/or ban you from commenting. Even then, simply using those words may, in particular circumstances, be passed over with no problems, such as giving them as examples of things you shouldn’t call people, and even the most extreme punishment that you could receive from here leaves you free to say exactly the same thing elsewhere. A government ban could apply to ANY use of particular words, regardless of context or circumstances, and universally applies, even in a chosen forum that would otherwise be fine with it.

  26. twincats says

    From what I understand of the Russian language (I took a 9 month ‘listening comprehension’ course for the USAF back in 1979 and a college level course in 1997) Putin is going to have a long hard slog ahead of him to clean up the Russian’s language habits.

    They apparently cuss quite heavily, and both times I studied, we were told that in no uncertain terms. We even had a special obscenities briefing before we were able to graduate from D.L.I.

    Seems to me this is possibly a ploy to make the government money; kind of like cracking down on people who merely slow down at stop signs in CA.

  27. says

    Who decides if feck or fuck is “illegal” ?

    Well, that would be Bryan *I Know What God Thinks* Fischer.

    This guy is one conceited motherfucker.

    Oh, umm, I take that back, this motherfucker knows how to fleece the sheep.

  28. lofgren says

    The difference is that Freethought Blogs bans the use of “cunt” on Freethought Blogs. They’re not trying to ban the use of “cunt” on 4chan. Bryan Fischer would like to ban the use of “cunt” on 4chan, on HBO, and probably in your bedroom while you’re talking dirty to the consensually submissive sex slave you picked up on Craigslist.

  29. matty1 says

    The difference is that Freethought Blogs bans the use of “cunt” on Freethought Blogs.

    Then how the cunting cunt did you just use cunt?

  30. Jared Ragland says

    I get the impression Fischer’s teleprompter has a default script that begins:

    IF I WERE IN CHARGE

    [pause for laughter]

  31. D Carter says

    Well, that would be Bryan *I Know What God Thinks* Fischer.

    Yes, Brian Fischer’s intellectual prowess is every bit equal to that of God. Now, if God only existed…

  32. says

    It is my experience that it is EXCEEDINGLY difficult to piss Ed Brayton off, to the point that because of profanity laced or obscenity laden comments he will remove your comment or ban you. I think I can be trusted on this.

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