Personal theory, probably has occured to others
Having worked as a dj at a college radio station, I was instructed that there are certain words which are forbidden to be used on air. These are words considered obscene by the FCC. Now, the Supreme Court ruled that for something--anything--to be obscene, it must:
- Be patently offensive to the average citizen
- Have no artistic value
- Appeal to a person's prurient interests
And of course the debate rages as to:
- What is the average citizen?
- Who decides what is art?
- Who decides what is prurient? (hell, some people get it up over a pair of red pumps--should we outlaw them?)
This said, I noticed the words which you can't say on the radio (thanks, George Carlin, for inadvertantly formalizing the rules--see FCC vs. Pacifica):
Note that not all of these words are necessarily sexual (unless you're a fecalphiliac). However, they do all relate to the body or bodily functions. (Piss used to be on the list, but you can say that now.)
Now look at what words are allowed by the FCC:
And every other racial or sexual epiphet you can think of. Now why is that? What are the differences between the words?
It's my opinion that the reason lies in a) our neurotic attitudes towards sex and the body, and b) the inherent prejudices in our society. If you examine the words that are forbidden, they are sexual or physical in nature, while the allowed words are offensive to the whole person's being (for example: calling someone an ass refers to the animal; and asshole refers to the anal sphincter).
I am of the opinion that no words should be censored. But what does it say about a society where you can say a racial/ethnic/gender/sexual preference slur on the air and not be charged by the govnernment (though--I hope and have seen--tried in the court of public opinion), but utter anything sexual and you can loose your broadcasting license?
Which is really more harmful for children? Fuck or Nigger?