Thursday, June 01, 2006

What Must Be Set Free?

I love me some “dirty” words and “filthy” language, so I am pleased to present you this seventy eight page scholarly treatise by Christopher M. Fairman of the Ohio State University - Michael E. Moritz College of Law (brought to you via BoingBoing) .

The Center for Interdisciplinary Law and Policy Studies Working Paper Series No. 39 brings you Ohio State Public Law Working Paper No. 59 with one of the most compelling titles and subjects in the whole of jurisprudence.

The works name?


It’s a thorough overview of the word, with background on history, etymology, and social context. The paper is of course focused on the legal aspects and treatment of fuck. I am of course unqualified to say this, but it seems to me that he does a good job of seizing upon a linguistic understanding of the word (specifically the idea that there are two different words, each pronounced “fuck”) and using it to illuminate the legal predicaments in a new light. He does a great job of pointing out the history and inconsistency of “fuck jurisprudence” and ends on an exciting note with a beautiful closing line. If you still don’t want to read it (and you should (I enjoyed the footnotes, in particular), here is the abstract:

“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.”


Anonymous brittany said...

One recent Internet search revealed that fuck "is a
more commonly used word than mom, baseball, hot dogs, apple pie, and Chevrolet."

Great article

12:09 AM  

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