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Kids Say the Darndest Things

Has anyone else noticed the wonderful irony of ESPN's decision to put a five-second delay on its coverage of the Little League World Series after a couple of kids let fly with the sort of language with which the playground and ballfield abound.

While the FCC has defended cracking down on profanity by suggesting broadcasters could foul the innocent ears of our youth, ESPN is having to protect the rest of us from the playground language of angry kids.

Actually, ESPN is probably doing the right thing by protecting kids and coaches from the kind of scrutiny of their words that is the quid quo for pros earning millions and held up as role models. But why let that stand in the way of some wonderful irony that is still very much in play.

I have repeatedly said that most 10 year olds have heard, and many use, the language the FCC is empowered to strip from the airwaves during most of the day. Why do they swear? Sometimes it is actually the most fitting word. A 'gosh' sometimes doesn't cut it, like when you hit your thumb with a hammer.  But it is also to shock adults. The FCC has essentially advertised adults' ability to be shocked by swearing in its high-profile crackdown.

Why do the kids put beans in their ears, goes the song. Simply because we say no. The more forbidden the FCC makes such language, and ludicrously so, the more inclined the next generation will be to use it.

Raise your hands out there. Who actually thinks there is something threatening to the social fabric about a muscular, well-earned epithet?

By John Eggerton