Fuck [NOOK Book]

Overview

@$#*%! Our most taboo word and how the law keeps it forbidden.

This entertaining read is about the word "fuck", the law, and the taboo. Whether you shout it out in the street or whisper it in the bedroom, deliberately plan a protest, or spontaneously blurt it out, if you say "fuck," someone wants to silence you, either with a dirty look across the room or by making a rule that you cannot say the word. When it's the government trying to cleanse your language, though, you should ...

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Fuck

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Overview

@$#*%! Our most taboo word and how the law keeps it forbidden.

This entertaining read is about the word "fuck", the law, and the taboo. Whether you shout it out in the street or whisper it in the bedroom, deliberately plan a protest, or spontaneously blurt it out, if you say "fuck," someone wants to silence you, either with a dirty look across the room or by making a rule that you cannot say the word. When it's the government trying to cleanse your language, though, you should worry. Words are ideas. If the government controls the words we use, it can control what we think. To protect this liberty, we must first understand why the law's treatment of "fuck" puts that freedom at risk.

This book examines the law surrounding the word and reveals both inconsistencies in its treatment and tension with other identifiable legal rights that the law simply doesn't answer. The power of taboo provides the framework to understand these uncertainties. It also explains why attempts to curtail the use of "fuck" through law are doomed to fail. Fundamentally, it persists because it is taboo; not in spite of it.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In a spirited expansion on his law review article, "Fuck," Ohio State Univ. law professor Fairman explores the origin and the affect of perhaps the most notorious word in the English language. Fairman begins with a catalog and limited history of the word, including usages sexual and non-sexual. In tracking down the word's origins-largely unknown-and the abundance of court cases involving it, Fairman highlights the long struggle of conservative forces to expel that word, and other forms of speech, from American society, in direct opposition to the first amendment. Fairman also addresses the downfalls inherent to the amendment, including the exception for speech used to incite violence, and the myriad of punishments used, at state and national levels, to deal with those exceptions. Drawing from a vast selection of historical documentation, Fairman also explores the nature of taboo and related trivia, such as the word's usage across gender lines. Austere and informative, Fairman's social history is uncompromising in its vigilant defense of first amendment rights, both in spite of his subject's potential for offense, and because of it.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781402245183
  • Publisher: Sourcebooks, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 9/1/2009
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 272
  • Sales rank: 1,324,865
  • File size: 322 KB

Meet the Author

Christopher M. Fairman is a Professor of Law at Moritz College of Law at the Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio. He is a leading national expert in civil procedure, legal ethics, and the word "fuck." He is a gifted teacher with awards and recognition at the high school, college, and university level.
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Read an Excerpt

FUCK

Word Taboo and Protecting Our First Amendment Liberties
By CHRISTOPHER M. FAIRMAN

Sourcebooks, Inc.

Copyright © 2009 Christopher M. Fairman
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-1-4022-2320-4


Chapter One

Why Fuck?

Oh fuck. Let's just get this out of the way. You'll find no f-word, f*ck, f-k, @$!%, or other sanitized version used here. This is quite a change from Professor Allen Walker Read's 1934 scholarly treatment of the word, "An Obscenity Symbol"-fifteen pages and eighty-two footnotes penned without once printing the word fuck anywhere in the article. I won't even cleanse my title as Dr. Leo Stone did with his landmark piece, "On the Principal Obscene Word of the English Language." And why should I? This isn't the first time you've seen the word and, if you keep reading, it certainly won't be the last.

Let me explain the genesis of this book. A trilogy of events motivated me to start this project. The first occurred during my second year as a law professor. I was teaching a course in Professional Responsibility, and the lesson for the day was attorney racist and sexist behavior. The case I assigned from a leading casebook was liberally sprinkled with fuck, cunt, shit, bitch, and the like. Sensitive to the power of language, I recited the facts myself rather than ask a student, as was my norm. After the course was over, I was reviewing my student evaluations and discovered this: "I wasa little disturbed by the way he seemed to delight in saying 'cunt' and 'fucking bitch' during class. I think if you're going to say things like that in class, you should expect it to show up on the evaluation." Now I was the one a little disturbed.

How could any educated adult, much less a graduate student in a professional program, be offended by hearing these words read from a court opinion? I decided then that someday I wanted to explore this topic in more depth. However, early in my career and armed with other safe, doctrinal projects on my research agenda, this one had to wait.

The idea of writing a book about fuck resurfaced a year later when I read about the plight of Timothy Boomer. While canoeing on the Rifle River in Michigan, Boomer fell overboard, letting forth a "fuck" or two. As if his day wasn't bad enough, a nearby deputy sheriff gave him a ticket-and not for unsafe canoeing. Instead, he was cited for violating an 1897 statute that proscribed: "Any person who shall use any indecent, immoral, obscene, vulgar, or insulting language in the presence or hearing of any woman or child shall be guilty of a misdemeanor." Then Boomer was convicted and sentenced in municipal court to a $75 fine and four days of community service or three days in jail for cursing within earshot of women and children. Amazed by the fact that Boomer was convicted at all, I was unprepared for what happened next. The conviction was upheld on appeal to the district court. Flabbergasted that this could happen in the twenty-first century, my curiosity about the legal implications of fuck was piqued. (As for Boomer, wiser minds prevailed in his second appeal in which the Michigan Court of Appeals reversed his conviction.) While my background research was ongoing, a third event crystallized my intention to write this book. United States District Court Judge Algenon Marbley was reported as sending federal marshals to arrest a man, Robert Dalton, for contempt of court. The offense was sending the judge an email calling Judge Marbley a "fuck-up." Now I can understand contempt charges if this happened in open court, or if the man had been a lawyer involved in the case. However, the facts recounted by the newspaper implicated none of these reasons. It was a private email sent from Dalton to Judge Marbley criticizing his handling of the settlement of a consumer class action lawsuit. Dalton was not even a member of the plaintiff class. His only connection was that he was a longtime critic of the local car dealer who was the defendant in the class action.

This scenario is a far cry from pornographer Larry Flynt's outburst before the United States Supreme Court during oral argument in Keeton v. Hustler Magazine, Inc. Flynt shouted, "Fuck this Court! You're nothing but eight assholes and a token cunt." Chief Justice Warren Burger arrested Flynt for contempt of court. Now the Chief's reaction could be justified as maintaining order in the courtroom and preventing interference with judicial business; Flynt could have screamed anything that day and been subject to arrest. Not so in Judge Marbley's case.

I don't profess to be a constitutional scholar, but I always thought the heart of the First Amendment was the right to criticize the government-federal judges included. In my mind, Dalton should have been able to yell "fuck the judge" at the top of his lungs from his rooftop if he wanted to. While Judge Marbley ultimately withdrew the contempt charge, it's clear that he was solely concerned with the actual use of language. After Dalton was dragged into court, Judge Marbley scolded him saying, "As an articulate man, you could have found another way to express yourself." Only after Dalton conceded that "in retrospect, I could have used other creative words to express the strong sentiment I have," did the judge withdraw the contempt charge. Judge Marbley's reaction can't be explained as Midwestern sensitivity either. Historically, Ohio judges haven't had such a severe reaction to fuck. In 1970, amidst the usual Ohio State-Michigan football frenzy, someone printed bumper stickers that said "Fuck Michigan." A law student put one on his windshield and was arrested by the Columbus Police Department for violating the city's obscene-literature law. Judge James A. Pearson dismissed the case, concluding that it would be absurd to interpret the sticker to mean "have sexual intercourse with the state of Michigan." He further concluded that most of the citizens of central Ohio would feel that the bumper sticker had some redeeming value. So what led to such a different reaction by Judge Marbley to the same word decades later in the same Midwestern city in what is surely a much more tolerant generation?

These legally trained minds-a law student, a law enforcement officer, a state district court judge, even a federal judge-each heard the word fuck and suddenly lost the ability to calmly, objectively, and rationally react. If fuck has power over these people, what are the limits of its influence? After these incidents, I knew this book had to be written-after I was tenured.

Now I want to be clear: No one at the College of Law or The Ohio State University has ever, in any way, tried to limit my academic freedom. Instead, I've experienced exactly the opposite; the faculty and administration have generously supported my research efforts. Still, the thought of writing this book made me skittish. I wasn't prepared to embark down fuck's path until I had the protection of academic freedom that tenure provides. I could see with clarity the overreactions by others to the word fuck. But when it came to myself, I didn't recognize my own behavior as a form of self-censoring. The subconscious force of taboo that ultimately becomes central to my thesis is part of me, too.

POWER OF TABOO

Three consonants and a vowel ordered one way-"f-c-u-k" -is the acronym and trademark of fashion company French Connection United Kingdom, a multimillion-dollar designer label coveted by many worldwide. With the slightest of alterations, this corporate trademark becomes "f-u-c-k"-a word so forceful that its utterance can land you in jail. What transforms these four letters into an expletive of such resounding power?

To fully understand the legal power of the word, I draw upon the research of etymologists, linguists, lexicographers, psycholinguists, and other social scientists. Collectively, their research offers an explanation for the visceral reaction to fuck: word taboo.

In every culture, there are things that we're not supposed to do and things we're not supposed to say: taboo acts and taboo words. In Western society, many of these taboos relate to sex. Fuck is one of these taboo words. Its taboo status is likely due to our deep, subconscious, negative feelings about sex. As Edward Saragin put it: "In the entire language of proscribed words, from slang to profanity, from the mildly unclean to the utterly obscene, including terms relating to concealed parts of the body, to excretion and excrement as well as to sexuality, one word reigns supreme, unchallenged in its preeminence." Fuck.

Forged in our subconscious, word taboo compels many to engage in self-censoring. Some people are so affected by taboo that it becomes a word fetish. These individuals are not content to refrain from using the word themselves. Rather, these speech vigilantes want to restrict your vocabulary as well. The silence of the majority empowers this small segment of the population to try to sanitize our words under the guise of reflecting a greater community. When they capture the ear of our politicians or policemen, taboo is institutionalized through law.

The law of fuck is inconsistent, confusing, and contradictory. From the vantage point of constitutional doctrine, poor Tim Boomer aside, use of the word itself isn't obscene given the development of the law of obscenity. Indeed, the First Amendment accommodates vulgar fuck when core political speech is involved. The Supreme Court said I can even parade through a courthouse with a jacket emblazoned with "Fuck the Draft" for all to see.

But if the lead singer of the band U2, Bono, accepts a Golden Globe award exclaiming "this is really, really fucking brilliant," or Cher or Nicole Richie says fuck just once on live TV, the Federal Communication Commission is poised to sanction the broadcasting stations for the fleeting reference as indecent speech describing sexual activity. If that conclusion isn't baffling enough, those same TV stations can show Tom Hanks swearing like a soldier on the beaches of Normandy in Saving Private Ryan and that's fine. Such is the confusion surrounding the law and fuck.

The legal implications of the use of fuck reveal both inconsistencies in its treatment and tension with other identifiable legal rights that the law simply doesn't answer. We may live under a Bill of Rights that exclaims Congress "shall make no law" abridging the freedom of speech, but that doesn't stop the law from targeting the word fuck. Taboo is the tool that helps me understand why the law acts and reacts to the word as it does.

FUCK [??] SEX

Fuck is all about sex and nothing about sex all at the same time. Virtually none of the uses of the word that I discuss have anything to do with sex. Timothy Boomer's "fuck!," "Fuck the Draft," Bono's "fucking brilliant," the ever-present "fuck you"-none of these are sexual in meaning. So why do we choose that word? The subconscious mind and its universe of instincts and inherited memories grafts powerful, dark, sexual meaning to the word fuck. When a speaker experiences intense excitement and simultaneously reaches into his vocabulary pool, the powerful word that's grabbed may derive its strength from taboo. Despite the denotation intended, the taboo remains imbedded like linguistic genetic code. Whether the listener understands the speaker's intended meaning or not, word taboo engrafts the negative connotation and hence its inherent power.

Reaction then depends upon audience. When the hammer misses its mark and lands on your thumb, the "fuck" your buddy hears is the one you meant. The same is likely true if you whisper in your partner's ear that you want to fuck him or her. The reaction, of course, depends upon how well you understand your partner, but there was no confusion on your meaning. Simply put: Words have meanings. If we can distinguish between different meanings of fuck, why can't our government?

The failure of the law to consistently distinguish between sexual and nonsexual uses of fuck is much of the problem. Even if you accept the idea that it's okay for the government to restrict access to truly obscene material-that is, patently offensive descriptions of sexual conduct appealing to the prurient interest-the litmus test is that the material is about sex. Most of the time, fuck isn't. It's creepy to think about Uncle Sam peering under my sheets, but it's flat out wrong to allow him to dictate false meanings to the words I choose. When the FCC declares all uses of fuck are per se sexual and indecent, taboo triumphs over reason. The same marginalization of speech occurs when the law, under the influence of taboo, encourages private employers and public schools to restrict workplace and school speech.

If we want to diminish the taboo effect, silence isn't the solution. Neither is punishing the use of offensive language. Such attempts to curtail the use of fuck are doomed to fail. Fundamentally, fuck persists because it is taboo, not in spite of it. We must recognize that words like fuck have a legitimate place in our daily life.

Whether you shout it in the street or whisper it in the bedroom, say it deliberately as a political protest or accidentally let it slip out, make a single fleeting reference or sing an expletive-laden rant, intend to be funny or downright foul, if you say "fuck," someone wants to silence you. We shouldn't passively watch as tiny coalitions with a webpage and a word fetish take some of our words away. When it's the government trying to cleanse your language, you should really worry. We shouldn't tolerate any part of our representative government mucking around in our words: we elect senators, not censors.

At issue isn't just protection for some entertainer's potty mouth. Words are ideas. If the government can control the words we say, it can also control what we think. Ultimately, my concern is for the preservation of our most basic liberty-a freedom of the mind.

UNDERSTANDING FUCK

In order to protect this liberty, we must first understand why the law's treatment of fuck puts that freedom at risk. How can a single four-letter word foreshadow such doom? The next chapters of this book arm you with the essential background and analytical tools you need for this inquiry. Chapter 2 explores the modern usage of fuck. It seems like it's everywhere these days. But don't let ubiquitous fuck confuse you. Just because everyone says it doesn't mean that everyone accepts it. This seeming paradox comes from the power of taboo. Chapter 3 presents taboo as the essential concept for understanding the force of this four-letter word. Chapter 4 explores the etymology of fuck, providing a valuable historical account of both usage and taboo. When the contributions of linguistics and psycholinguistics are added in chapter 5, a complete picture of taboo's impact emerges. Fuck carries with it layers of unhealthy subconscious sexual fears. An extreme emotional reaction produces word fetish examined in chapter 6. The effect of taboo manifests in self-censorship and, if left unchecked, institutionalized taboo. Chapter 7 concludes with a survey of the law's inconsistent treatment of fuck, an inconsistency caused by taboo.

The remainder of this book explore the nuances of this jurisprudential mess. There is a chapter that tackles each of the separate constitutional doctrines that's been applied to fuck by the Supreme Court: fighting words, obscenity, vulgarity, and indecency. I also explore the FCC's regulation of speech and the role taboo plays in its policymaking. The last chapters highlight fuck and the law of the workplace and schools, where taboo also leads to a chilling of speech by workers, students, and teachers. The final chapter tackles the future of fuck and predicts its continued resilience.

Before predictions about fuck's future or tales of its past, the next chapter looks at the current use of fuck and the love/ hate relationship we have with this four-letter word.

(Continues...)



Excerpted from FUCK by CHRISTOPHER M. FAIRMAN Copyright © 2009 by Christopher M. Fairman. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Table of Contents

Contents

Prologue....................vii
Chapter One: Why Fuck?....................1
Chapter Two: Ubiquitous Fuck....................13
Chapter Three: The Power of Taboo....................25
Chapter Four: Fuck Etymology....................33
Chapter Five: Linguistics, Psycholinguistics, and Taboo....................43
Chapter Six: Fuck Fetish....................55
Chapter Seven: Fuck Jurisprudence....................69
Chapter Eight: Them's Fighting Words!....................81
Chapter Nine: Obscenity-They Know It When They See It....................93
Chapter Ten: "Fuck the Draft": Offensive and Vulgar Speech....................105
Chapter Eleven: Pacifica, a Pig in the Parlor, and Powell....................115
Chapter Twelve: Profanity, Private Ryan, and a Prada Purse....................127
Chapter Thirteen: Genderspeak and the Workplace....................149
Chapter Fourteen: Tinker's Armband, But Not Cohen's Coat....................159
Chapter Fifteen: Fuck in Teacher Speech....................173
Chapter Sixteen: Fuck Forever....................185
Acknowledgments....................193
Endnotes....................199
Index....................245
About the Author....................249
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 40 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 30, 2014

    Hi click me

    ===|::::::::>kill me now stupid book

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 4, 2013

    Dee_brezzy

    Who is 14,cute,black,sweet,funny,romantic,smart,does not judge people and Single ?


    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 25, 2014

    Who wants to fuck me?

    I have a sexy vagina ;)

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 30, 2014

    Fuck

    You all

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 16, 2014

    To raina

    Want to sext?~E.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 16, 2014

    Raina

    I want sex

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 14, 2014

    Sex anyone?

    Reply to Raina

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 18, 2014

    Lacy

    You are mean to me

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 7, 2014

    Kevin

    Walks in

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 12, 2014

    Jade

    St on the bed grinnign

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 22, 2014

    Liz

    Whoa. Whats going on here? Kevin calm down okay?

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 11, 2014

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 9, 2014

    Caroline

    Is horny

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 17, 2014

    To jake

    Hi im leah what r u doing?

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 17, 2014

    Jake

    A red haired dude in gym shorts and a thun shirt is sitting down on his bed, staeing at the door.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 10, 2014

    Hello

    T</>its

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 8, 2014

    TO SAIGE MARTIN

    Answer me on Miley Cyrus by Nicholas Something or Other.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 24, 2013

    Tammi to all

    I need a master who will tie me up and tease me. Other things too....

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 22, 2013

    Liam

    He wants to stick his d.ick in so badly

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 22, 2013

    To mimi

    Hey.

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