Wednesday, April 29, 2009


My friend Ezra Klein has been surfing the archives of the Social Science Research Network, and he found "Fuck", a paper by Ohio State law professor Chris Fairman:
This Article is as simple and provocative as its title suggests: it explores the legal implications of the word fuck. The intersection of the word fuck and the law is examined in four major areas: First Amendment, broadcast regulation, sexual harassment, and education. The legal implications from the use of fuck vary greatly with the context. To fully understand the legal power of fuck, the nonlegal sources of its power are 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. Fuck is a taboo word. The taboo is so strong that it compels many to engage in self-censorship. This process of silence then enables 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.
If I'm on a hiring committee for some kind of legal philosophy search and I see a CV that lists "Fuck Jurisprudence" as an Area of Competence, you can bet that I'll read the rest of the applicant's file with great interest.

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