7 Words You Can't Say in Campaign 2008

So here's my common ground with the late George Carlin: Besides heartily affirming his treatise on "stuff," I think the Federal Communications Commission is pretty useless. Or at least utterly humorous, given the June 2007 press release in which FCC Chairman Kevin Martin, bemoaning a 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that sided with Cher and Nicole Richie's on-air verbal malfunctions, dropped the F-bomb four times and the S-bomb three times.

In fact, Carlin even got a cameo in Martin's rant: "In the 1978 Pacifica case, the Supreme Court affirmed the Commission's finding that the broadcast of comedian George Carlin's monologue about the 'seven dirty words you can't say on TV and radio' was indecent," Martin wrote in one of the non-swearing paragraphs. "In the case before the court today, the Commission was restricting only the use of two of those seven words."

Like Carlin, I've wondered who decided that, out of all the words in the English language, these are the chosen dirty few. I've wondered why using technical language to describe dirty acts is permitted but the shorthanded jargon is markedly more offensive. I've wondered why, if these words are so destructive, they're in the dictionary, which comes with no R-rating or parental warning (don’t get any ideas, Martin). I've wondered if the superior nature of HBO and Showtime series has anything to do with their freedom to curse. I think too much, dammit.

But like those seven dirty words you can't say on TV -- including the FCC chairman's top picks -- the culture of political correctness is swallowing more and more of our "acceptable" lexicon. Especially in this oh-so-sensitive campaign season, consider the "Seven Dirty Words You Can't Say in Campaign 2008": Pundits and voters alike, beware the rap of the Politically Correct Commission!

  • Swift boat: If you split the compound term, the words are completely innocuous. Swift is always good, especially in L.A. traffic. Boat brings about pleasant thoughts of sailing along the ocean blue. Until Somali pirates come aboard, of course. Swift boats are good, because they get you to your destination on time. But Swift boat ought not to be uttered in conjunction with Campaign 2008. People start to twitch. John Kerry turns shades of scarlet. Liberals sing of dirty tactics and stolen election. And now, it doesn't even have to do with a boat. Bring up dirt from the past? Aw, man, you Swift boated me! Who cares if you never even served on one?