Friday, February 15, 2008

Another Morning Show Profanity "Slip"

Jane Fonda used the "C-word," as reported by Broadcasting & Cable, when describing her participation in The Vagina Monologues on NBC's Today show. There are some rumblings as to whether the FCC will take enforcement action against NBC.

B&C quoted Tim Winter, a former NBC employee and current president of the Parents Television Council (otherwise affectionately known as the Puritanical Tyrants Committee), as saying: "If an NBC employee used the ‘C-word’ to another employee, that employee would be suspended or even fired . . . While NBC’s apology is helpful, it is not enough -- millions of families were indeed offended."

So, according to Mr. Winter, an NBC employee's use of the C-word would get that employee fired? Really? Maybe, if they used it to describe a superior to his or her face, it could result in being terminated. However, when used in this context, I would imagine that several non-sanctioned dirty words might also lead to one's unemployment. For instance, if used with equal fervor, one might find herself looking for a new job if she told her boss, "You are such a butt muncher!" or, "You tampon!" or, "You Puritanical Tyrant!"

Alternatively, I could also see a dismissal for C-word usage if uttered in a sexually discriminating or harassing way but, in those same contexts, the more medically acceptable "vagina" would probably lead to a similar result.

Absent such use of the C-word, I highly doubt that any NBC employee would be fired for their language alone. Moreover, I doubt that "millions of families" were offended by Fonda's slip of tongue. Children whom are watching the show likely have no idea what "vagina" means, much less the socially unacceptable nicknames for the female anatomy. I also doubt that any alert parent would allow their children to continue watching a show where The Vagina Monologues were the topic of discussion (What were these conservative parents doing watching an interview with the wholly unpatriotic Jane Fonda, anyway? You know, the ones who still think she fights for the North Vietnamese?). Even if they were offended, are there not far more disturbing topics being discussed on a morning news show, like school shootings or wars or warrantless wire taps?

I know it's the PTA's mission to root out all instances of "profanity" on TV and bring the evil-speakers to justice, though I can't help but think that they could spend their time on a more worthwhile cause.