Dear Brent Lee Kendall CPA
Recently, I saw the news online, Vince Neil was issued a citation on stage for using the work “fuck” in a song. From then on all the other bands at that event tried to find their way around the use of that word. Last year I saw your band at the Roxy. I don’t remember your entire set list but one song was “Fuck Off & Die” and I’ll never forget your song “Suck My Dick” (great tune! When do we get a video?) and I love your new video “Just Another Whore” on youtube. So what gives? Is the word FUCK constitutionally protected or not? I was simply wondering about my right to use such words in public, in private or in a song. Guns and Roses do it! You’ve got a law degree. Can you dumb it down to a level even I can understand?
Jim “The Snake” Lindel
Good question! Of course I can dumb it down to your level, if I couldn’t I wouldn’t be much of a lawyer and I wouldn’t be writing a legal column. First of all, the word “FUCK!” The perfect word! It’s a noun, it’s an adjective, it’s a verb, it’s used to denote pleasure, and it’s used to denote pain! It’s the first word learned by any foreigner! In the words of President Truman referring to the Japanese and the use of the A-Bomb, (so the rumor goes!). “Fuck those fucking fucks!”
As you may have guessed, your question falls into the legal area of Constitutional law. The first amendment to the Constitution is our freedom of speech. It’s the first amendment because it’s considered the most important! That means you can say whatever you want whenever you want, right? Wrong! At least not in some states! Most forms of speech are protected. However; five different forms of speech are regulated, or shall we say Not Constitutionally protected. 1) Clear and Present Danger. Speech directed at producing imminent unlawful action and likely to produce such action is not protected. 2) Defamation. 3) Obscenity. The word “FUCK?” it depends. 4) Child Pornography. Any words used in depicting child pornography are outside the freedom of speech protection. 4) Fighting words. Personally abrasive language likely to invite acts of physical violence, 5) Fraudulent Commercial Speech. Generally commercial speech is protected, but not if used to commit a fraud, i.e., blatant false advertising.
In Miller v. CA 413 U.S. 15 (1973) the US Supreme Court has held that no work may be found obscene unless it appeals to the prurient interest in sex (taken as a whole and applying contemporary community standards), depicts sexual conduct in a way which is patently offensive and lack serious literary value.
So what has the Supreme Court done? Basically side step the issue entirely. “Taken as a whole and applying contemporary community standards” is another way of letting the states decide the issue. Apparently some states have decided the word “Fuck” is obscene whereas the state of California considers it constitutionally protected. Have you ever wondered why the majority of porn is produced and distributed in California? The same reason California community standards are more tolerant of hard core pornography whereas some other conservative state may not allow it. Obviously, free speech is not free. Sometimes your use of a word like “FUCK” will not be protected. Just ask Vince Neil.
That’s the basic lowdown. I hope I may have shed some light on your “FUCK” word problem. Also, The Buzzz… does not use the word “FUCK” in every song, have you heard, seen the youtube video “Pizza & Beer?” As a wise man once said, (OK, it was me), the word “FUCK” is American as apple pie. If Guns and Roses can use it, so can any other band, provided you’re not in a state that considers it obscene. So be careful and stay out of jail and thanks for viewing our most recent The Buzzz… rock video “Just Another Whore!” As you may have guessed, search in your browser, (youtube or google) the title to the song, “Just Another Whore!” And enjoy our Constitutional right to hear “fuck: and watch a so-called whore, on a stripper pole!