Why are only two words censored on TV?

Logically to censor out swear words to protect youngsters seems ok, but when you only censor out 'S**T' and 'F**K' but ALLOW the words Damn, p*ss, or other words like Ass or even the terms for reproductive organs it kinda seems redundant.

I've noticed a lot of that viewing Family Guy . they censor out only the s-word and f-word (or rather the vowel sounds, they leave the pronunciation of the consonants intact so it can still be understood by anyone with a brain) but they allow the other swear words and even the explicit names of reproductive organs. if a censor is going to censor why not do it right and keep the all out?

Although IMO, i would rather them not do it at all, esp if they can only do it haphazardly. I mean it's Freedom of Speech and/or Expression and i hate to say it, the FCC isn't protecting us from anything since Joe Public can hear those words on a daily basis throughout the day anyways.

Isn't that what ratings are for? if one uses a V-chip why is censor in place anyway? i mean they warn the user both on a TV-MA warning for language and content and of course the message before the theme on the show South Park yet they still censor out two of the seven words...
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Jason Fritz

Staff member
Good question. The censorship lines have really blurred over the past decade for what's considered, "Decency", and what isn't. and who is the culprit? Cartoons. lol.

Family Guy is shown on a major OTA network right after prime time hours and has gotten away with more innuendos and graphic images than I have ever dreamed (or had nightmares) about seeing on OTA TV. The humor on that show is childish, vulgar, and downright obscene...and I'm not quite sure why I laugh so much everytime I watch it. :)

I DO think that censorship is important. Would the V-chip fix everything?

According to the FCC,

The FCC has adopted rules requiring all television sets with picture screens 33 centimeters (13 inches) or larger to be equipped with features to block the display of television programming based upon its rating.
and all converter boxes must include technology that meets minimum standards for parental controls (V-Chip). So this means that everyone watching OTA wil now have access to parental controls.

Here's where I see a problem. If you allow every network to display TV-MA content at all hours of the day, 7 days a week...what would happen if all networks were airing adult content at the same time. This would mean absolutely zero shows for kids or adults who have set their v-chips to TV-G. That would be a problem.

I'm not really sure how far censorship should be taken, but I do feel that current boundaries have been crossed FAR too many times.

Come to think of it, who am I or anyone else, to judge what YOU can or can't watch.

BTW: Check out CNN's timeline of TV censorship when you get a minute.


A few things.

First, it makes no sense to censor the actual (dictionary) terms for reproductive organs. The objective is not to deny the existence of sex, but rather to limit obscenity, "utterances intentionally designed to incite lust or depravity". There are only six words that, themselves alone, ever really fell into the consistent scope of censors. (If you think there were seven, read them over, and you'll see one is really just a variant of one of the other six.) Two of the six words do seem to be getting let by, these days, but the sanction against the other four is generally intact. To be honest, I think only three of those words really should be censored; the others don't lend themselves towards "lust or depravity" but rather (and these days, only tangentially) towards gross-ness, so I don't think there is any compelling societal need served by censoring those other three words.

Second, with regard to the availability of programming for children: If there is a societal need for that, then government should provide for it, either directly, through incentive, or through mandate. This is an example of the best application of government. The way things are reflects a consensus view of what is needed, even if it doesn't fulfill any one person's expectation in that regard. We live in a society with many people, and therefore it is unreasonable to expect society to conform with any one person's personal priorities.

Third, the currently laws do not provide for any distinction with regard to programming between one hour in prime time and another. The law sets forth 10PM as the threshold, but that threshold applies nationally, and as things are today, the networks that broadcast programming "after 10PM" broadcast that programming before 10PM in the Central time zone, so therefore the rules that apply to programming presented before 10PM apply to all prime time programming.

In the end, it is parents' responsibility to monitor and control the television that their children watch -- including turning off the television if it happens to be a time when there is no programming available for their children. Television broadcasters aren't all non-profits, and even the non-profit television broadcaster has an obligation to viewers to present more sophisticated programming as part of its repertoire, along with E|I programming. If there is a healthy market for any specific type of programming during a specific hour, then at least one supplier will go after that viewership and satisfy that need. If there is not a healthy market for a specific type of programming during a specific hour, it is not reasonable to expect any broadcaster, not even PBS, to provide that programming.


Staff member
A few things.

First, it makes no sense to censor the actual (dictionary) terms for reproductive organs. The objective is not to deny the existence of sex, but rather to limit obscenity, "utterances intentionally designed to incite lust or depravity".
But what is obscene? If it's a function of human life, why does society attach a stigma to some of the redundant words that DTVuser2009 mentioned. :playball:
Don't forget also that 'bad words' have replacement 'pseudo bad words' that are apparently ignored and/or allowed by society, even if they convey the same thing:

Ass = Butt

Sh*t = shoot, shiznit,

P*ss = pee, whiz, tinkle

F*ck = fornicate, sex, hump

Damn = dang, darn, dam (eliminate the 'n' but say the same word)

So what really is a 'bad' word? or does it really matter? what gets me is that they allow the word 'P*ss' on TV, but censor out Sh*t. why? they're both bodily functions in slang?

They also allow words like 'p*ssy' even when society labeled that towards a female body part. why isn't that considered a 'bad' word?

The word used to refer to a type of cat. in fact you watch the original 'Tom and Jerry' shorts you'll hear that term applied in such a manner.

Also, TV doesn't censor out the violence or blood if you watch Family Guy Peter Griffin's chicken fights, there's violence AND blood there.
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They also allow words like 'p*ssy' even when society labeled that towards a female body part. why isn't that considered a 'bad' word?
Because when it's used on TV, it's usually in reference to a cat or a gentle person. There has never been an instance of that word being used OTA in reference to a female body part.