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Someone at the FCC Is a Boston Red Sox Fan

The Federal Communications Commission, normally quick to crack down on the slightest infringement, is letting David Ortiz's f-bomb slide

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David “Big Papi” Ortiz. Image: Keith Allison

As George Carlin tells us, there are seven words you can’t say on television. Last week, David “Big Papi” Ortiz got away with saying one of them, and the Federal Communications Commission, normally quick to crack down on the slightest infringement, is letting him slide.

The day after the capture of Dzhokar Tsarnaev, the second suspect in the Boston Marathon bombings, the Boston Red Sox played a game against the Kansas City Royals. The game was emotional, the whole city swept up in both pride and exhaustion. And before the game, Big Papi gave an emotional speech. He said:

“This jersey, that we wear today, it doesn’t say ‘Red Sox.’ It says ‘Boston.’ We want to thank you Mayor Menino, Governor Patrick, the whole police department, for the great job that they did this past week. This is our f***ing city. And nobody’s going to dictate our freedom. Stay strong.”

Now, normally that little f-bomb is a fine of $325,000. And normally the FCC is quick to collect that hefty bill. Their own website says so. “The FCC vigorously enforces this law where we find violations, consistent with constitutional and statutory protections of broadcasters’ freedom of speech,” they write. But this time, they’re letting “Big Papi” slide. CNN reports:

While the FCC has pursued others for broadcast profanity — most notably, FOX Television Stations for expletives dropped during live awards shows in 2002 and 2003 — FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski gave Ortiz a free pass Saturday.

He tweeted: “David Ortiz spoke from the heart at today’s Red Sox game. I stand with Big Papi and the people of Boston – Julius.”

It probably won’t happen again though, so anyone else who wants to curse on national television should still be ready to fork over $325,000.

More from Smithsonian.com:

Who Needs to Wash Their Twitter Mouth Out? A Map of Profanity on Twitter
When they put it in writing, they were cursing, not cussing

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About Rose Eveleth
Rose Eveleth

Rose Eveleth is a writer for Smart News and a producer/designer/ science writer/ animator based in Brooklyn. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, Scientific American, Story Collider, TED-Ed and OnEarth.

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