“Seven Ideas You Can Never Discuss on Television”
Takimag.com, April 3, 2011
In 1972 comedian George Carlin famously delineated the “Seven Words You Can Never Say on Television .” All seven words dealt with bodily parts or functions at a time when such things were simply not mentioned in polite company. If anything, Carlin was understating the case—back then, I don’t remember anyone on TV even suggesting that nipples existed, much less coming out and saying “tits.”
In the intervening decades, society has not only shed such taboos, it has actively embraced vulgarity. At least on cable TV, one is now allowed—in some cases encouraged—to not only say all seven of those words, but to use them in a single sentence while demonstrating them for the camera. These days we have reality shows about crippled midget meth-smoking stripper Satanist hermaphrodites with AIDS competing against similarly afflicted freaks for cash prizes, and it’s “all good”—even something worth celebrating.
Modern culture has disabused itself of the false notion that the human body and its various functions are unnatural or unspeakable. It has rid itself of most sexual hang-ups, but—since all societies define themselves primarily via taboos—in its stead it has erected a new and equally fraudulent idealized vision of humanity entirely unsupported by science, logic, or evidence. There’s a whole new set of dirty words that didn’t used to be dirty—all of them derogatory terms for people who aren’t white males—and a forbidden set of ideas which one must not permit to seep inside one’s head without risking censure, shunning, verbal abuse, career death, and possible assault.
The new sacred cows come in new shapes and colors, but they’re still sacred and they’re still fat fucking cows. The taboos have switched from the sexual to the cultural, but shiver me timbers if they aren’t enforced with the same blind, vengeful, true-believer tenacity as the old taboos. Ironically, these taboos find their deepest roots among a presumably “edgy” demographic—but the detached, ironic smarm so endemic along the Left Bank is only a thin crust atop a molten core of inviolably sacred assumptions and risk-free sanctimony. There is a new prudery afoot, and it’s based entirely on a faulty, illogical, and unsustainable myth of universal human equality. Read the whole article .