I just saw a local Boston TV ad for Ace Tickets. The slogan at the end was “Sit your Ace down!” So clever! Just throw gratuitous vulgarity into a commercial during a baseball game, doubtlessly viewed by many children, because it’s inherently amusing. The message is that vulgarity is cool, clever and acceptable. Other messages in the media, both in advertising and in pop culture, convey the same permissive standards regarding obscenity. Over on the Drudge Report, a much-admired news aggregator for political junkies, especially on the right, no mention of Anthony Weiner’s annoying candidacy for Mayor of New York is made without a cheap “weiner” joke. Today, Drudge noted that Weiner was “inching up” in the polls. Get it? HAR! Just under that “gag,” the news that men favored Weiner in polling was headlined “Male Enhancement.” Soooo witty! The U.S. is being transformed into one huge junior high school. After growing up in such a vulgar, undignified, sleazy environment, the next generation won’t be prone to inadvertently use words like “fuck” and “shit” in public forums such as live award shows and TV interviews, like our current politicians, newscasters and celebrities. They’ll just use them intentionally, all the time. Won’t that be cool? I’m sure David Letterman thinks so. Cool Dave had A.J. Clemente, he of uttering “fucking shit” on the airways in his debut as a news anchor, as a guest on his show. Dave suggested to A.J. that his ex-bosses were jerks to fire him. Good point Dave! A.J. was just ahead of his time. In a decade or so, “fucking shit” may be the sign-off of the next generation’s Walter Cronkite.
Maybe less than a decade. Note this account, in a court opinion, of a lawyer’s conduct before a magistrate:
“On the evening of 5 November 2011, a Saturday, defendant [ a lawyer ]entered the Buncombe County Detention Facility and went to an area designated by sign as a “Magistrate Court.” Defendant told the magistrate on duty that she was an attorney, was present on behalf of some Occupy Ashville protestors, and then asked, “‘What the hell is going on around here?’” The magistrate told defendant to “watch her language” and stated that, as an attorney, defendant should know not to curse in a courtroom. Defendant proceeded to request a list of names of individuals for whom warrants had been issued in connection with a protest march. The magistrate declined to give defendant the names, but said she could check whether defendant had an active warrant. After defendant requested she do so, the magistrate told defendant that she did not have an active warrant. Defendant then stated: “‘What the fuck is going on around here?’” The magistrate again warned defendant not to curse in the courtroom and asked defendant to leave.
“In response, defendant stated, “‘Oh, yeah, I said “fuck,” “This is fucking ridiculous,” and “This is fucking crazy.”‘” In total, defendant made approximately five statements containing the word “fuck.” After the third or fourth time defendant said “fuck,” the magistrate “informed her that [the magistrate] was going to hold her in contempt.” Defendant continued cursing and walked towards the door. Although the magistrate told defendant to stop and return because she had been held in contempt, defendant exited the office.”
What this most unprofessional of lawyers was thinking, where she went to school and why she believed she could speak that way in court are all questions I would ponder if I weren’t terrified of the answers. It may amuse Occupy types to engage lawyer who share their general disrespect for the system, but disrespect is not an ingredient of successful legal representation, and this lawyer was neither ethical nor effective. But just wait a while. The way things are going, in a few generations judges and lawyers will be casually hurling “Fuck you!” at each other in open court, and nobody will blink.
Source: Volokh Conspiracy