NOTE: THE DIRTY WORDS YOU CANNOT SAY ON TELEVISION: DOES THE FIRST AMENDMENT PROHIBIT CONGRESS FROM BANNING ALL USE OF CERTAIN WORDS? Skip over navigation
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Copyright (c) 2005 The University of Illinois
University of Illinois Law Review

NOTE: THE DIRTY WORDS YOU CANNOT SAY ON TELEVISION: DOES THE FIRST AMENDMENT PROHIBIT CONGRESS FROM BANNING ALL USE OF CERTAIN WORDS?

2005

University of Illinois Law Review

2005 U. Ill. L. Rev. 989

Author

Stephanie L. Reinhart

Excerpt



I. Introduction


Perhaps no invention has so profoundly revolutionized the American way of life as the television. Since its introduction in 1926, 3 the television has found its way into the homes of almost all Americans. 4 Since the 1950s, when the television became popular in American homes, 5 it has changed tremendously, especially over the past few decades. Technological advances aside, the content of television programming has definitely come a long way, but according to some, the changes in content have not been positive. 6 In fact, some argue that the quality of language used in public broadcasting is "rapidly going down the tube." 7

In 1954, actress Lucille Ball became pregnant. The television network that broadcast her show, "I Love Lucy," decided to allow her character, Lucy Ricardo, to have a baby too. 8 But, because this "was an era in which married couples on television slept in twin beds so far apart that they might have been in separate sitcoms," network officials feared shocking "I Love Lucy" audiences. 9 Finding that the word pregnant was far too provocative for television, the network decreed that "Lucy could be described only as "expecting.'" 10 That decision may have prevented Ball and her character from being accused of indecency, but other performers were not quite so fortunate. Indeed, while it may be "hard to remember the time when profanity on stage or screen could get [a performer] arrested," such arrests actually happened. 11 In 1964, "famously foul ...
 
 
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