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  • Dr. Laura's n-word and the First Amendment

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joseph.1@osu.edu Aug 22, 2010 10:48 pm

It seems to me that something that is relevant here is the distinction from the philosophy of language regarding "use" versus "mention" (the former referring to utterances where a word is actually used to signify whatever it signifies, and the latter referring to utterances where a word is simply mentioned, that is the reference is to the word itself, not what it means). Dr. Laura was mentioning the word, not actually using it. It is true that the mere utterance of certain words, whether in use or in mention, can offend some people, which is why euphemistic terms like "N-word" or "F-bomb" are used. For discussion of a similar sort of case involving popular entertainment, in this case a TV show, see http://itre.cis.upenn.edu/~myl/languagelog/archives/004086.html.

Reply to joseph.1@osu.edu at 10:48 pm