January 25, 2004

Teaching the difference between right and wrong

Having spoken out for the right of indigenous peoples such as the Parents Television Council to defend their traditional culture against the forces of globalization, I want to dissociate myself from one of the PTC's arguments. In his weekly syndicated column of 01/21/04, the PTC's president, L. Brent Bozell III, says:

NBC ... lobbied furiously that the F-word was but an "adverbial intensifier" that fit well within the fine legal points of not referring to a sexual or excretory act. That's a laughable argument against common sense. And it's an insult to any parent trying to teach a child the difference between right and wrong. Just imagine:

"Hey Mom, what a f---ing awful day I had at school!"
"WHAT did you say, Tommy?!"
"Mom, get with it. It was an adjective, not a noun."

If I were the sort of person who makes formal complaints about things that are none of my business, I'd be tempted to report Mr. Bozell to another beleaguered indigenous group, the Traditional Grammar Project. Although I doubt that the TGP have the ear of any government agencies with the power to impose fines or even community service, perhaps they can persuade Mr. Bozell to make amends by working with them on a lesson plan that America's moms can use, in the poignant scene depicted in his column, to teach our children the rights and wrongs of grammatical terminology.

Posted by Mark Liberman at January 25, 2004 11:29 PM