How to Combat Those Potty Mouths

Those award shows are getting increasingly outrageous. First, there were the outfits. Then, it was the language. And now, anything goes.

Following the kiss between that children's book author Madonna and the heir-apparent to her sluttiness, Britney Spears, channel hoppers were treated to the Billboard Music Awards (search) earlier this month.

On that show, Nicole Richie (search), who is competing with Paris Hilton (search) for her 15 minutes of fame -- but without the porn video that has propelled Hilton to notoriety -- let loose with a string of obscenities that even the five-second delay technology could not entirely catch. The FOX broadcast network issued an apology for the vulgar language, but it should not have been surprised. When one opens a garbage bag, one expects to find garbage inside. That's why most people take their trash out and don't like it coming into their living rooms.

The FCC has invited more of this sort of thing when it ruled that the f-word used by Bono on another recent awards show was ok, because he used it as an adjective. The government wants to teach us about grammar even while it pretends to be guarding the public airwaves against what used to be called dirty words before everything became tolerable.

There are some ways to combat this. Networks can impose fines or have fines imposed by the FCC when such language is used. But that probably won't happen since networks think vulgarity equals ratings and the FCC is a paper tiger.

A more effective approach is the one taken by some conservative groups against Abercrombie and Fitch. The clothing chain announced this month it would no longer be publishing catalogues featuring naked teenagers in sexually suggestive positions. That followed a campaign by certain groups, which targeted the company's stock and the threat of a store boycott.

If the bottom line is more important to TV advertisers than potty mouths, people concerned about these things can hit them where it hurts the most.

And that's Column One for this week.

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