Oh well! What happened has happened and we can’t take it back or undo it. Utley himself has apologized for saying it with an explanation that yes, it is a bad word and he shouldn’t have used that term to express his joy. Yet these facts aren’t stopping some people (28 in all) from lodging complaints with the FCC. The suggestions for suitable punishment range from fines to stripping the stations of their broadcasting licenses. There are several problems with these suggestions.
Fines have become meaningless. Most broadcasters are owned by huge conglomerates with high priced lawyers who can - and have - beat the rap. The suggestion to pull broadcasting licenses would virtually wipe out all local stations in the area, since all the stations carried the incident from the same feed, Sportsnet. To add insult to injury, the Sportsnet channel — for reasons beyond my comprehension - cannot be held liable for the broadcast, but the local stations can be fined or suspended. Go figure!
We can’t take back what’s been said, but we can soften any alleged damage that may have occurred. One caller asked the FCC how they can explain this incident to their children. How can they tell their offspring about “that” word? This is where I wish to offer some suggestions to this caller and all others like them facing this tough situation. I am doing this as a public service, and anyone with this dilemma can thoughtfully consider my ideas, or dismiss me as a total whacko.
A parent could try the direct approach, “It’s an adult slang term for a form of communication where one person wants to get real, real, real close to someone they really, really, really like.” Please feel free to cut down or add more “reals” and “reallys” as you see fit. I realize that this could lead to more questions from the child such as, “By communication, do you mean intercourse?”
If this happens, your child is obviously more sophisticated than you realize, but you’re not necessarily screwed. You have still opened up an important line of communication between you and your child. At this point, you may want to let out a heavy sigh — heavy sighs are very important and cannot be over emphasized - and resign yourself to the fact that it’s time for “the talk.” Sorry, I can’t help you out there.
There is also the chance that your child — in this day of massive mass communications bombarding their world — could tell you more about the “eff” word than you yourself know about the word. This should not be a problem as you have still opened up a line of communication between yourself and your child. Who knows, you might learn a few things from them.
Then there are also the tried and true methods parents have used over the years. You could tell them simply, “It’s a bad word, and if I hear you use it around here, I will withhold your allowance and suspend your playing privileges.” (By the way, this method never worked.) Or you could just tell them, “Oh, go ask your friends at school! You were going to find it our there anyway!”
I realize it’s not an easy situation for many parents. Everyone would like to protect their children from the evils of the outside world as long as possible, but the obvious solution — keeping them at home bound and gagged in the hall closet until they are eighteen — is not practical, and I’m pretty sure it’s also extremely illegal. In any event, the ensuing dialogue between adult and child should be an opportunity for both sides to grow as human beings. Don’t shrink away from this challenge and don’t go telling government agencies what they can do with broadcasters that offend your ears. And, if you do, don’t be surprised if other citizens of this great country of ours tell you, “Aw, go eff yourself.”