Curse of foul language on television

First published in Jack Straw column Lancashire Telegraph: Photograph of the Author by , MP for Blackburn

I have been known to swear.

I have a close friend, very bright; over a beer, especially if the subject is Rovers’ fortunes (or lack of them), he can make the air turn blue.

There’s an ‘F’ word in every sentence, sometimes between every other word.

But all that’s between mates, consenting adults, in the privacy of a corner of the pub.

In every other situation, he’s impeccably polite, and well-spoken.

Words really matter.

One of the most ludicrous of proverbs is “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.”

Of course, words themselves can’t inflict physical harm, but words for sure can hurt.

It’s through language that we all convey meaning – not only what we think, but what we feel, about ourselves, and about others.

So three cheers for Sir David Jason, star of Only Fools and Horses, who complained this week about the lowering of standards on TV.

“Take the ‘F’ word. It’s become commonplace [on television]” he said. “Language has implications and it’s offensive if it’s meant to denigrate something or someone.”

Sir David is right. I’m constantly amazed how on television the ‘F’ word, and worse, are used so frequently.

It’s as though the programme-makers have lost their imagination, and have decided instead that they can hold their audience by language which has a place only at the back of a pub.

And why does a programme like the One Show think that anyone will be impressed by the latest drivel from Jeremy Clarkson?

The latest example, last week, was his boorish nonsense about executing public sector strikers in front of the their families.

A joke? – come off it – it was just a self-indulgent rant.

The big surprise to me is why those in charge of the BBC, ITV, and the other TV channels allow this stuff.

I know many of them.

Almost without exception, they are well-educated, well-behaved, and wouldn’t dream of swearing or smutty talk in public.

Why on earth do they think their viewers should be subjected to it?

It’s time they accepted their responsibilities, and stopped it.

Comments (9)

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11:04am Thu 8 Dec 11

Centaur says...

"It’s time they accepted their responsibilities, and stopped it."
The same statement could be said of politicians, judges, the legal profession, policement (& women-whoops, almost became sexist there).
Common sense is long gone Jack, nobody in a position of responsibility is responsible anymore, and definitely don't set the correct example for the rest of the population.

****, sex, corruption, fiddling, and cheating are the order of the day, so the rest of the population follow their lead.
"It’s time they accepted their responsibilities, and stopped it." The same statement could be said of politicians, judges, the legal profession, policement (& women-whoops, almost became sexist there). Common sense is long gone Jack, nobody in a position of responsibility is responsible anymore, and definitely don't set the correct example for the rest of the population. ****, sex, corruption, fiddling, and cheating are the order of the day, so the rest of the population follow their lead. Centaur
  • Score: 0

12:59pm Thu 8 Dec 11

district01 says...

No!
“Politicians” is now the foulest word imaginable on television and in actual fact everywhere else!

But thanks for your contribution Jack Straw towards that feeling of angst about ‘politicians’ in general (sorry for swearing!). Those who are forever portraying themselves to be one of the learned elite seem not to be so learned after all and often give the impression that they really do live on another planet. But perhaps that may not be such a bad idea!

So, best not to blame Jeremy Clarkson for being successful at what most of us pay him to do but instead look at the morality of those politicians who have used our votes only to heighten their own career and wellbeing.

It’s not what is said that offends but what is done or not done that offends the most. Politicians such as yourself being the prime example!
No! “Politicians” is now the foulest word imaginable on television and in actual fact everywhere else! But thanks for your contribution Jack Straw towards that feeling of angst about ‘politicians’ in general (sorry for swearing!). Those who are forever portraying themselves to be one of the learned elite seem not to be so learned after all and often give the impression that they really do live on another planet. But perhaps that may not be such a bad idea! So, best not to blame Jeremy Clarkson for being successful at what most of us pay him to do but instead look at the morality of those politicians who have used our votes only to heighten their own career and wellbeing. It’s not what is said that offends but what is done or not done that offends the most. Politicians such as yourself being the prime example! district01
  • Score: 0

7:40pm Thu 8 Dec 11

Come the Revolution says...

Jack. Make yourself useful & do some investigating into Venkys finances & motives, & who exactly is running BRFC. If you can sort that out, you'll almost eradicate the amount of bad language in Blackburn in one foul swoop.
Jack. Make yourself useful & do some investigating into Venkys finances & motives, & who exactly is running BRFC. If you can sort that out, you'll almost eradicate the amount of bad language in Blackburn in one foul swoop. Come the Revolution
  • Score: 0

10:10am Fri 9 Dec 11

happycyclist says...

You and your ilk make a lot of people swear, Jack.
You and your ilk make a lot of people swear, Jack. happycyclist
  • Score: 0

12:52pm Sat 10 Dec 11

district01 says...

Sorry ‘happycyclist’ but it’s all a waste of time. Those who no longer wear thick black glasses can’t see the wood from the trees. You will always read here each Thursday the same belittling content from Jack: “I have been known to swear” or “I have a close friend, very bright” or “he’s impeccably polite, and well-spoken“. What must it be like to be a part of a society that is so above everyone else?

But Jack’s got to the stage in life where he believes all he says himself. Living in another world thinking himself to be all that he sees to be noble, clever, forthright, dependable and worst of all, just one of the working class. But now has progressed to being just another clever wealthy blue eyed boy just like Tony Blair, still pretending to be politically red because he’s still getting the support from the ‘loyal’ old labour voter. But at a cost to each and every one of us having to live within that false realm!

Just take a look at what Blackburn has become. A deplorable situation for an historical ‘Labour’ held Blackburn with Darwen council but it does remain an extremely interesting situation regarding the problems associated with deep found political beliefs and loyalties within today’s world!
Sorry ‘happycyclist’ but it’s all a waste of time. Those who no longer wear thick black glasses can’t see the wood from the trees. You will always read here each Thursday the same belittling content from Jack: “I have been known to swear” or “I have a close friend, very bright” or “he’s impeccably polite, and well-spoken“. What must it be like to be a part of a society that is so above everyone else? But Jack’s got to the stage in life where he believes all he says himself. Living in another world thinking himself to be all that he sees to be noble, clever, forthright, dependable and worst of all, just one of the working class. But now has progressed to being just another clever wealthy blue eyed boy just like Tony Blair, still pretending to be politically red because he’s still getting the support from the ‘loyal’ old labour voter. But at a cost to each and every one of us having to live within that false realm! Just take a look at what Blackburn has become. A deplorable situation for an historical ‘Labour’ held Blackburn with Darwen council but it does remain an extremely interesting situation regarding the problems associated with deep found political beliefs and loyalties within today’s world! district01
  • Score: 0

11:32am Sun 11 Dec 11

its not rocket science says...

The BBC pays out astronomical sick salaries to the executives and directors and the acting, newsreading, programme presenting 'stars'.

The ordinary TV licensing paying and unable-to-afford public would like to bleep, bleep, at the 717 BBC workers paid £60k-100K.

We'd like to use stronger and shoutier bleepity-bleeeeep swear words at the 311 BBC worker paid £100K-200K.

For the 33 BBC stars and executives on £250,000 - £500,000 we say angrily bleeping, bleepers, bleeping, bleeped.
This pay band is likely to include Dr Who actor Matt Smith, newsreaders Kate Silverton, Sophie Raworth and Huw Edwards, Mock the Week presenter Dara O'Briain, and Breakfast's Bill Turnbull and Sian Williams.

(They are NOT flipping worth it.)

I can't even bleep the amount of bleeping rant that we would have at the 19 BBC star-staff on £500,000 to £5million salary band. Jonathan Ross was reported to be on £6 million a year, and this pay-band had included The One Show presenters Adrian Chiles and Christine Bleakley.

(These are criminally colossal salaries. I swearingly hate, loathe and detest it.)

Director-general Mark Thompson got £779,000.

The highest paid "suit" was John Smith, chief executive of BBC Worldwide, responsible for sales of "brands" such as Top Gear. His pay rose 9% from £823,000 to £898,000, including a £138,000 bonus and £172,000 from an incentive scheme. BBC Worldwide's profits were up 10%at £160 million.

(So, why aren't TV License prices coming down or customers getting any money back or vouchers or even getting a share of the profits?)

The overall pay bill for the 22,899 BBC employees rose by £9million to £1.022BILLION.

The Evening London Standard July 2011. & Freedom of Information request - downloads.bbc.co.uk/
foi/classes/disclosu
re_logs/rfi20110614_
male_female_salary_b
ands.pdf

Contrast this to the people who are criminalised for not having a TV License and the situation is swearingly diabolical and any government condoning and ignoring sickening stratospheric salaries is failing the ordinary voting population.

TV Licensing today published figures showing that almost 400,000 people were caught watching TV without a licence across the UK in 2010.

A TV License costs £145.50 per annum and is also required for wathcing TV via a computer.

People found guilty of using TV without a valid licence risk prosecution, legal costs and a fine of up to £1,000. Plus, they will still have to buy a TV Licence. But who benefits from the fines.

People age over 75 need a TV License but it is free. Free TV licenses could be extended to those aged 65+ and to people with ongoing, chronic illnesses or wheelchair-dependant people who are predominantly housebound.

What is the maximum star-rated salary you are prepared to pay a BBC employee?

As for Jeremy Clarkson he was in the workplace when he said shoot trade unionists. Can Teachers, Shop Assistants, Nurses, Cleaners say those things in the workplace?
The BBC pays out astronomical sick salaries to the executives and directors and the acting, newsreading, programme presenting 'stars'. The ordinary TV licensing paying and unable-to-afford public would like to bleep, bleep, at the 717 BBC workers paid £60k-100K. We'd like to use stronger and shoutier bleepity-bleeeeep swear words at the 311 BBC worker paid £100K-200K. For the 33 BBC stars and executives on £250,000 - £500,000 we say angrily bleeping, bleepers, bleeping, bleeped. This pay band is likely to include Dr Who actor Matt Smith, newsreaders Kate Silverton, Sophie Raworth and Huw Edwards, Mock the Week presenter Dara O'Briain, and Breakfast's Bill Turnbull and Sian Williams. (They are NOT flipping worth it.) I can't even bleep the amount of bleeping rant that we would have at the 19 BBC star-staff on £500,000 to £5million salary band. Jonathan Ross was reported to be on £6 million a year, and this pay-band had included The One Show presenters Adrian Chiles and Christine Bleakley. (These are criminally colossal salaries. I swearingly hate, loathe and detest it.) Director-general Mark Thompson got £779,000. The highest paid "suit" was John Smith, chief executive of BBC Worldwide, responsible for sales of "brands" such as Top Gear. His pay rose 9% from £823,000 to £898,000, including a £138,000 bonus and £172,000 from an incentive scheme. BBC Worldwide's profits were up 10%at £160 million. (So, why aren't TV License prices coming down or customers getting any money back or vouchers or even getting a share of the profits?) The overall pay bill for the 22,899 BBC employees rose by £9million to £1.022BILLION. The Evening London Standard July 2011. & Freedom of Information request - downloads.bbc.co.uk/ foi/classes/disclosu re_logs/rfi20110614_ male_female_salary_b ands.pdf Contrast this to the people who are criminalised for not having a TV License and the situation is swearingly diabolical and any government condoning and ignoring sickening stratospheric salaries is failing the ordinary voting population. TV Licensing today published figures showing that almost 400,000 people were caught watching TV without a licence across the UK in 2010. A TV License costs £145.50 per annum and is also required for wathcing TV via a computer. People found guilty of using TV without a valid licence risk prosecution, legal costs and a fine of up to £1,000. Plus, they will still have to buy a TV Licence. But who benefits from the fines. People age over 75 need a TV License but it is free. Free TV licenses could be extended to those aged 65+ and to people with ongoing, chronic illnesses or wheelchair-dependant people who are predominantly housebound. What is the maximum star-rated salary you are prepared to pay a BBC employee? As for Jeremy Clarkson he was in the workplace when he said shoot trade unionists. Can Teachers, Shop Assistants, Nurses, Cleaners say those things in the workplace? its not rocket science
  • Score: 0

9:42am Mon 12 Dec 11

saint.george says...

How about looking into the plight of BRFC and get those horrible owners to sell and take their puppet with them ...
How about looking into the plight of BRFC and get those horrible owners to sell and take their puppet with them ... saint.george
  • Score: 0

4:59pm Mon 12 Dec 11

Mill62 says...

Why didn't you sort all this out when you were in government Jack?
Same with insurance scams.
Why didn't you sort all this out when you were in government Jack? Same with insurance scams. Mill62
  • Score: 0

2:07am Thu 15 Dec 11

brok says...

"The BBC pays out astronomical sick salaries to the executives and directors and the acting, newsreading, programme presenting 'stars'". Writes 'it's not rocket science in an erudite piece of research and writing lampooning Jack Straws article.
"One of the most ludicrous of proverbs is “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.”" Says Jack Straw in an article that is anything but erudite.
Yes swearing and obscenities are offensive, even in pubs if it reaches the ears of someone who prefers not to hear.
The whole of the past few years have been tainted by the fear of saying the wrong thing. I have worked for local government spending days walking on eggshells in case some self appointed thought police officer heard me say something and ran off to the supervisors and woe betide the person who says something inappropriate.
The proverb is not ludicrous, it is a forgotten link with common sense.
I don't like swearing on TV or anywhere else, but I yearn for the days when someone knew he had the freedom to call me specky-four-eyes and the only person likely to 'get' him was me.
"The BBC pays out astronomical sick salaries to the executives and directors and the acting, newsreading, programme presenting 'stars'". Writes 'it's not rocket science in an erudite piece of research and writing lampooning Jack Straws article. "One of the most ludicrous of proverbs is “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.”" Says Jack Straw in an article that is anything but erudite. Yes swearing and obscenities are offensive, even in pubs if it reaches the ears of someone who prefers not to hear. The whole of the past few years have been tainted by the fear of saying the wrong thing. I have worked for local government spending days walking on eggshells in case some self appointed thought police officer heard me say something and ran off to the supervisors and woe betide the person who says something inappropriate. The proverb is not ludicrous, it is a forgotten link with common sense. I don't like swearing on TV or anywhere else, but I yearn for the days when someone knew he had the freedom to call me specky-four-eyes and the only person likely to 'get' him was me. brok
  • Score: 0

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