Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Fuck and the law

from BoingBoing:

“Fuck” is a 2006 scholarly paper by Ohio State U law prof Christopher M. Fairman, published in Center for Interdisciplinary Law and Policy Studies Working Paper Series No. 39. It starts with anecdotes about three legally trained people — a Master’s student in law, a sheriff, and a federal judge — reacting irrationally to the word “fuck,” and goes on to explore the way that psycholinguistic factors makes English speakers go crazy in the presence of the word, and the effect that has had on law. Fun reading!
This Article is as simple and provocative as its title suggests: it explores the legal implications of the word fuck. The intersection of the word fuck and the law is examined in four major areas: First Amendment, broadcast regulation, sexual harassment, and education. The legal implications from the use of fuck vary greatly with the context. To fully understand the legal power of fuck, the nonlegal sources of its power are tapped. Drawing upon the research of etymologists, linguists, lexicographers, psychoanalysts, and other social scientists, the visceral reaction to fuck can be explained by cultural taboo. Fuck is a taboo word. The taboo is so strong that it compels many to engage in self-censorship. This process of silence then enables small segments of the population to manipulate our rights under the guise of reflecting a greater community. Taboo is then institutionalized through law, yet at the same time is in tension with other identifiable legal rights. Understanding this relationship between law and taboo ultimately yields fuck jurisprudence.

"Art" by Steve Olson

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