Freaking Out Over Bad Words

A.J. Clemente was fired by a North Dakota television station after he opened his first-ever broadcast with obscenities. This country needs an enema. I paraphrase, of course, from Jack Nicholson's take on Gotham City in his turn at The Joker. But when it gets to the point where we ignore the true absurdities our kids are witnessing every day and freak out over a few "naughty" words said on TV, it's enough to make one want to drink Liquid Drano, or whatever it is "Tailgunner" Ted Cruz uses to turn his hair into an Indy 500 oil patch.

Twice in recent weeks newscasters have said what my three-year old calls "bad words" (where's George Carlin when you need him?) on television accidentally, and both times they've been fired, because apparently we're all still striving to reach puberty.

In the first, and arguably more regretful case, then-newly hired Bismarck, North Dakota KYFR news anchor A.J. Clemente might have had the worst first day at work of all time. Not realizing his microphone was on (always assume it is!), he put two four letter words together in the first 15 seconds of his new gig that probably won't make his highlight reel.


Except it was worse than oops. For this crime against humanity he was first suspended and then fired, with the station director taking to Facebook to help us all get through the first 2.5 of our five stages of grief by offering, "All we can do is ask for your forgiveness, and I can offer my personal assurance that I will do my best to ensure nothing like this ever happens again under my watch." Phew, glad we've that straightened out, or I might have to stop watching all the quality coverage of deadly car crashes and muggings just before the weather and sports.

In the second case, Comcast sports reporter Susannah Collins tried to say the word "success" on the air, and it came out "sex." Either for that audacity of making an on-air error that makes tea party Republicans feel dirty or for some old online videos that were dug up after all the publicity, in which she makes jokes about sports (put your hands over your ears--she mentioned sex!), she was let go by her employer. And then the pestilence abated, the gorgons returned to their lairs and Sarah Palin conjugated the verb "to be."

In fact, much like America's favorite trashy Alaskans, we have a gaggle of preening adolescents occupying elected positions throughout the Republican Party and on Fox News. They’re busy forming groups like the Parents Television Council, who sit on the edge of their sofas jacked up and just waiting for Janet Jackson's next "wardrobe malfunction."

These intellectual pillow pets aren’t bothered by a building full of workers turning into a pancake in Bangladesh or our continuing efforts to turn this planet into Mustafar. Nor by child obesity or civil war in Syria or the fact that Jennifer Lopez is still allowed to act in movies. No, what's got them mad as hell and ready not to take it anymore is the fact that our kids might hear a few "bad words," and then inevitably head straight off to set up a meth lab after grinding up some Tylenol cold & sinus with their Lego Avengers.

So yeah, your kids heard a few bad words on TV. They'll survive. In fact, they'll probably even forget about it as they move the loaded shotgun off their TV tray to finish off the bucket of extra-crispy KFC while watching a brawl on Teen Mom.


© Copyright 2013 Cliff Schecter, distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate. For more info contact Cari Dawson Bartley at 800- 696-7561 or email

Cliff Schecter is the President of Libertas, LLC, a progressive public relations firm, and the author of the 2008 bestseller “The Real McCain.” Email Cliff at

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