What the Fuck?!

Adam Liptak has an interesting article in the New York Times today, looking at the use of  “[t]he most versatile of the classic Anglo-Saxon swear words” before and by the Supreme Court of the United States. That Court, it turns out is rather prudish: after its decision in Cohen v. California, in 1971,  holding that the slogan “fuck the draft” on a t-shirt was protected by the First Amendment, “the word,” which Mr. Liptak never names, “was used in nine Supreme Court decisions, typically in quotations of something a criminal had said. Its last appearance was in 1993.”

I was intrigued and decided to investigate how things stood in Canada. Well, our Supreme Court is less inhibited, or less tasteful, than its American counterpart. Although it did not get in the game until a year later, (quoting a poem, of dubious literary merit, in which a member of a biker gang let it be known that his and his colleagues’ occupation was to “fuck the world”) the words “fuck,” “fucking,” or “fucked” appear in 29 of its decisions, with no sign of a slowdown. However, unlike in Cohen, nothing much seems to turn on “the word” in any of these decisions; they all belong to the “quoting-shit-criminals-say” variety.

Because, unlike Mr. Liptak, I’m not getting paid for looking for dirty words in judicial decisions, I am unable, for now at least, to push my inquiry any further. But for those interested in the subject, there is an article by Christopher M. Fairman, whom Mr. Liptak describes as the “leading authority on the legal status of the word” in the United States, pithily entitled “Fuck”.

UPDATE: When I publish a post, WordPress volunteers some tags which its algorithms think might be relevant to it. The first one that came up for this post was “occupy Wall Street”. Looks like the movement has a foul-mouthed reputation.

Introduction: Why I Blog

Anyone who considers starting a blog must ask him- or herself whether there is really a need, or at least a remotely decent reason for doing it. There are (almost) hundreds of millions of blogs out there, so why add to this mass? Shameless self-promotion is tempting of course, but it’s not a very good reason, is it? And yet, after searching for some time now, I am unable to find a blog that would present commentary on Canadian constitutional law in the way, say, The Volokh Conspiracy does in the United States. If such a blog existed, I would probably have been content to follow it. But there seems to be a hole in the blogosphere, and perhaps I can, in a very modest way, try to fill it.

What makes me think so? I certainly have nothing like the credentials or the expertise of the people at Volokh, or at other American blawgs that I follow. I am still a student, in the NYU JSD programme, and have published a grand total of one article. Still, I like to think that I know a thing or two about Canadian constitutional law, and maybe a few other subjects, such as legal and political philosophy, which are the focus of my doctoral work. So hopefully I will have something intelligent and/or interesting to say every now and then.

Well, that will be justification enough for now for me. If others think it’s not, I’ll make up some righteous reasons as I go along.