Rooney strikes a blow for free speech


CBS’s curmudgeon in residence Andy Rooney, who at age 89 is still making waves on "60 Minutes," has weighed in on the fleeting expletives issue. Foul language on television? He’s against it. Regulating foul language on television? He’s against that too.

Some have been calling the broadcast airwaves an open sewer, but Rooney offered some perspective in his 3/30/08 broadcast on the topic. "No one has ever explained what harm dirty words do but it’s like bad manners," he said. "I mean life is a bootstrap operation and dirty words may not be much but they diminish the quality of all our lives by just a little bit."

He concluded, "Language is one of the best tools ever invented for anything and English is by far the best language. So, we should be careful using it though — so I’ll damn well decide for myself what I can say and what I can’t say."

RBR/TVBR observation: Rooney said that the FCC should just leave broadcasters alone. In his opinion, most people do not want foul language on TV, and since broadcasters are in the business of serving most people, they will steer clear of it as a simple business calculation.

We would say that is the way it is, already. Otherwise, when the clock strikes ten it would signal the beginning of Expletive Time, when the airwaves are suddenly taken over by foul programming which lasts all the way to 6AM the next morning when safe harbor goes away.

That’s not the way it is, is it? The fact is, for every accidental f-bomb that makes it out over the air, billions upon billions of acceptable words are uttered — both in and out of safe harbor.

There is a dauntingly comprehensive list of difficult problems facing the United States right now. This is not one of them. So let’s get off it and focus our energies on the real issues.