Maybe everyone knows this.

After Bono said, “This is fucking brilliant” on live TV, the P.I.C. (“People in Charge”) decided that the network couldn’t be punished because the word “fucking” in that sentence wasn’t actually talking about sex, so broke none of the current rules.

So a resolution was introduced to the House, explicitly (and amusingly) saying that:

…the term `profane’, used with respect to language, includes the words `shit’, `piss’, `fuck’, `cunt’, `asshole’, and the phrases `cock sucker’, `mother fucker’, and `ass hole’, compound use (including hyphenated compounds) of such words and phrases with each other or with other words or phrases, and other grammatical forms of such words and phrases (including verb, adjective, gerund, participle, and infinitive forms).’.

That’s enough for a post, and that’s really all I expected to say, but here are a few more items:

ITEM 1: I just heard a speech by Stephen Pinker, who pointed out that the resolution forgets to name *adverbs*, which was how Bono had used the word in the first place. That’s pretty funny. (Though, of course, they did really include all grammatical forms, not just the ones listed.)

The writers of the bill probably thought that the word “fucking” must be a gerund. A lot of people think that any “ing” form of a verb is a gerund.

A gerund (for those of you who care at all, but don’t actually know) is the NOUN form of a verb. Such as the word “driving” in “I appreciate your driving today. My car is a fucking deathtrap.”

“Your driving” is the same as, “your chicken” or “your candleholder.” It becomes a thing. A noun. A gerund.

ITEM 2: I only knew the number of the resolution (HR 3687). Everywhere I searched, everyone kept calling it HR 3687. Pinker called it that. But you need more than that to find it, because you need to look in the right Congress, namely the 108th. I’ll save you the trouble and link to it here: This is the link!

ITEM 3: I stole the term “P.I.C.” from the movie “Wristcutters,” which probably got it from the short story, “Kneller’s Happy Campers,” in the book, “The Bus Driver Who Wanted To Be God & Other Stories,” by Etgar Keret.

4 Responses to Congress

  1. BruceS April 2, 2008 at 6:06 pm #

    Uneffingbelievable—what will they try to control next. Your explaining the meaning of gerund is helpful, but may leave some confused when similar phrasing is used.

  2. weeklyrob April 2, 2008 at 9:42 pm #

    I appreciate your mentioning the possibility of confusion, and will try to avoid typing anything ending in “ing.”

  3. BruceS April 3, 2008 at 6:31 pm #

    And I’ll sing your praises for it.
    BTW, if I haven’t said it lately, thanks for your blog, and the humor it provides.

  4. weeklyrob April 4, 2008 at 5:10 pm #

    Thanks for the thanks.

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