When the President Curses: Profanity in the Media and Protecting Your Five-Year-Old Child

It’s a normal Tuesday morning for you and your family. You pick up the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, ignore the front page, flip to the sports section, start reading last night’s baseball scores, and then you hear it. Your five-year-old says, “Daddy, what’s s*** mean?” Your face turns red, you exclaim, “Where in the world did you hear that?” His response: “It says it on the front page, daddy. The President said it.”

What do you say to that? Don’t get me wrong, even the President has his right to free speech. My issue here is with it being printed in newspapers so that our children can see it. Some of these papers are distributed inside elementary schools. Let’s hope they reviewed them before they distributed them. The quote was printed word-for-word in The Chicago Tribune, The Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, Newsday, The Washington Post, and of course the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, and CNN aired the quote unedited, both online and on TV.

Just in case you’re wondering, the quote, which I’ll bleep out here in case children are reading, was “What they need to do is get Syria to get Hezbollah to stop doing this s***, and it’s over.” President Bush was talking to British Prime Minister Tony Blair regarding the escalating conflict between Lebanon and Israel.

Maybe President Bush should watch his mouth when he has a microphone on him (regardless of whether the President realizes that the microphone is on), but then again, we all have the right to free speech. However, I would prefer that my children not be subjected to this verbiage, as the newspapers allowed, at such a young age. Yes, I understand that they will hear it at some point in time or the other, but if networks can be fined for a “wardrobe malfunction” that wasn’t censored and are required to bleep out s***, then shouldn’t our newspapers and media organizations be required to follow the same rules?

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