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Hi, I’m Brad Feld, a managing director at the Foundry Group who lives in Boulder, Colorado. I invest in software and Internet companies around the US, run marathons and read a lot.

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This Is Really, Really Fucking Brilliant

Comments (6)

One of my favorite words is “fuck” – I’ve always viewed it as one of the most versatile words in the human language.  My mom used to cringe whenever I said it – now she just smirks at me.

Imagine my delight when I came across a scholary paper titled “Fuck” by Christopher Fairman of the Ohio State University – Michael Moritz College of Law.

Fairman’s paper is phenomenal.  In his words, his goal with the paper is as follows:

This Article explores the intersection of the word fuck and the law. In four major areas, fuck impacts the law: First Amendment, broadcast regulation, sexual harassment, and education. The legal implications from the use of fuck vary greatly with the context. However, to fully understand the legal power of fuck, the nonlegal sources of its power must be tapped. Drawing upon the research of etymologists, linguists, lexicographers, psychoanalysts, and other social scientists, the visceral reaction to fuck can be explained by cultural taboo.

This is not a humorous paper (although I found myself laughing out loud numerous times.)  As I worked through the paper, I got increasingly frustrated and discouraged by the inconsistency in the application of the law and the irrational behavior in key situations by people reacting to the word fuck.  Like every good scholar, Fairman states his conclusion in his introduction.

Fuck is a taboo word. According to psycholinguists, its taboo status is likely due to our deep, subconscious feelings about sex. The taboo is so strong that it compels many to engage in self-censorship. However, refraining from the use of fuck only reinforces the taboo. In the process, silence empowers small segments of the population to manipulate our rights under the guise of reflecting a greater community. Taboo is then institutionalized through law, yet at the same time is in tension with other identifiable legal rights. Understanding this relationship between law and taboo ultimately yields fuck jurisprudence. However, all the attempts to curtail the use of fuck through law are doomed to fail. Fundamentally, fuck persists because it is taboo, not in spite of it.

74 pages and 409 footnotes later, Fairman finishes with “Fuck must be set free.”  I agree. 

Oh – and the title of this post pays homage to Bono at the 2003 Golden Globe Awards.  His statement “This Is Really, Really Fucking Brilliant” which he made when he received the award for Best Original Song in a Motion Picture was delivered live on the East coast but was bleeped out on the west coast.  Maybe Bono will come up with a song titled “Set Fuck Free.”

Update: I just stumbled upon Mark Cuban’s post titled Cursing that he wrote earlier today.  It’s brilliantly aligned with this post.

  • http://evolvingtrends.wordpress.com Marc

    That’s fucked up …
    :)

    Marc

  • http://www.psynixis.com/blog/ Simon Brocklehurst

    I’m sure most people have seen this piece on the word “fuck”. But in case you haven’t:

    http://www.maniacworld.com/f-81.htm

    It’s an oldie, but a goodie…

  • http://www.newmanva.com/blog Ari N

    This list of uses for the word always inspires me:
    http://justin.justnet.com.au/rudestuff/uses-of-the-word-fuck.html

  • Jason McMinn

    Mark Cuban is a loud mouth white trash POS.

  • http://www.feld.com Brad Feld

    Jason – thanks for the thoughtful and insightful comment! Does POS mean “point of sale” or “piece of shit”?

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