back to article ASA: You can't say 'f**k'

The use of expletives in advertising and marketing can cause offence. That remains true even if some letters in swearwords are replaced by asterisks, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has ruled. A direct mailing for marketing firm The Fuel Agency Ltd took the form of a valentine's card. The text on the front stated: "I …

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  1. jake Silver badge

    Hmmm ...

    "Marketing communications should contain nothing that is likely to cause serious or widespread offence."

    Really? So, in a nutshell, all political advertising is illegal? Works for me.

  2. Keith 21
    Thumb Up

    Common f***ing sense at last!

    It's always struck me as thoroughly stupid the way that the nation or rather, some of the sadder elements within who have no life, recoil in faux horror at the use of words like fuck or shit or cunt, but are perfectly content for newspapers et al to display F**K and S**T and C**T splashed across their headlines.

    As the ASA rightly points out, everybody knows that f**k means fuck, so there is absolutely no difference between the two.

    The only stupid aspect of their ruling is that both are somehow "offensive" because a small minority of losers choose to give those 4 characters such power.

    They are not fucking offensive!

    If fuck is offensive and must be eradicated from our lives for fear of offending the terminally lame, then so much copulate, make love, ride, shag, and all other manner of synonyms.

    OR we coudl collectively get a fucking life, grow up, and abandon this pointless recoilling at certain letters when other letters meaning the same thing are fine.

    For fuck's sake, as they say.

    1. Jimmy Floyd
      FAIL

      @Keith 21

      I'm not offended, but your repeated use of 'fuck' just makes you sound like a semi-literate cretin.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Of course they're offensive!

      They're swear words, that's what they're all about! Using them is about adding power and force to the delivery of a communication (written, spoken, or often even shouted!), and in the right place at the right time they're totally correct and justifiable.

      But in general usage, and particularly adverts, that's clearly not the right place at the right time. Otherwise they start to lose the impact they're meant to carry.

    3. NogginTheNog
      Thumb Down

      French Connection

      Where does this leave the smugly annoying FCUK?

      1. Oliver 7

        Not the same thing...

        FCUK is acceptable because it actually stands for something - French Connection UK - the fuck is merely implied, whereas f**k just means fuck. Surely that is the ASA's point?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Not the same thing

          Do you really believe that FCUK is not intended to be misread? Seriously?

          1. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge

            Sir

            What I can't fathom is why so many people seem to find the cutlery so offensive?

            Leave them f**ks alone!

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            RE: Not the same thing

            Did tihs cpnoamay srtat boerfe or atefr the rsecaerh taht shewod taht olny the frist and lsat lteetr of wrods rlealy need to be in the croecrt pcleas for the txet to be rdlebaae?

      2. Geoff Campbell
        Thumb Up

        @French Connection

        Fcuked, probably.

        GJC

      3. Will Godfrey Silver badge

        Hmmm

        I never found it annoying, just pathetic.

    4. Dan 10
      Thumb Up

      Abso-f**king-lutely!

      That's all.

    5. Lou Gosselin

      For fsck's sake

      If you don't like the valentine's card, then don't buy it.

      I don't want to be regulated by a censorship regime. When we leave the abodes of our homes, we should accept that we'll see things we don't like. It's our responsibility to avoid stores which don't share our values. We can complain to the manager, and if they agree, they can take it down voluntarily. If not, then stop supporting with cash. But to go crying to the government for imposing a national ban on everyone else's rights is absurd.

      However, I gotta say the situation may be different when I receive unsolicited mail(*) to my door (or email), that's my home, and I should have the ultimate say on what's offensive. That the advertiser doesn't posses a means of printing a non-offensive version for me is not my problem.

      * Of course I believe we should have the right to block unsolicited mail entirely. The amount of junk I get every week is unconscionable. But that's a different matter.

      1. Apocalypse Later

        "If you don't like the valentine's card, then don't buy it."

        That wasn't the issue. These cards were sent out as a mailshot advert by a company. Some of the recipients were offended. It wasn't about people seeing them for sale and getting upset.

        Incidentally, you can get the post office to block some junk mail, but not the stuff that actually has your address on it.

        1. Lou Gosselin

          @Apocalypse Later

          It sounds like we agree then.

          "Incidentally, you can get the post office to block some junk mail, but not the stuff that actually has your address on it."

          I don't know about you, but I get tons of mail "to Lou Gosselin or resident". The bulk mailers do have my name and address, but I don't know how they get it. Needless to say, I never subscribed to this crap and it goes strait in the garbage. I'm not sure if I even have any legal rights in US to not receive bulk mail (like I do with spam).

          If it wasn't for the odd mail from the DMV or IRS, I'd just replace the mailbox with an arrow pointing to the trash bin.

    6. This post has been deleted by its author

    7. Slartybardfast
      FAIL

      Fuck all really

      Oh course Fuck is offensive, that's its whole point. If you're looking for words that aren't overly offensive to mean "having a fuck" then use shagging or similar.

      Sometimes you need a good swear word. I have nothing against the word fuck, I use it myself when I need to. However, I don't use it that often, when I use it people around me know I'm seriously pissed off.

      If you use fuck all the time when "lesser" terms are available, what do you use when you really want to swear? You have to keep some words in reserve for when you mean it. There's nothing wrong with having offensive words in a language. You seem to feel that we should be free to use all words at any time, anywhere. That would have the effect of dumbing down English as it synonymies "fucking" with "shagging" . Although the literal meaning is the same the cultural meaning is not, and long may it be so.

      I feel sorry for the small minority of losers who feel they do not have the vocabulary to talk/write without keeping some words in reserve

    8. Tonik
      Thumb Down

      re keith 21

      copulate off!

    9. hiddenA

      darkside

      I am offended by these words and I should be. These are, when used correctly, to add harsh meaning to a message, and these work.

      Lets use an example. You wait in a queue in a supermarket and women asks, "I only have a pint of milk. May I go in front of you?" How would you respond?

      Instead, she says "I only have a pint of fucking milk. For fucks sake, may I go in front of you?" I imaging one would punch her in the face, or at least decline.

      People think that using these words means that these can be used to replace every other adjective verb or adverb as they see fit, yet in fact all they have done is blunt the offensiveness of the words. Swear words, expletives if you must, are there to be used, but like every other word should be used well, otherwise you sound ill-educated and seemingly lacking intelligence.

      Lets use an fucking example. You like wait in a fucking queue like in a pissy like supermarket and like a fucking bint asks like, "Hey like, I have like a pint of fucking milk like. May I like go pushin' like front of your fucking place like in like this fuck awful queue like, know wod I mean like?" How the fuck would you fucking respond like? (Probably bored like...)

      1. TeeCee Gold badge
        Coat

        Re: darkside

        Yeees, but milk is spelled M-I-L-K.

        So you see, the problem you describe cannot occur as there is no fuck in milk..........

        1. Shane Orahilly
          Coat

          No fuck in milk?

          Thatcher's Britain for you.

      2. Mostor Astrakan

        Mind you,

        I was in the queue at the supermarket a while back, and the lady in front of me asked for some fucking lamb chops because she was doing a Gordon Ramsay recipe.

    10. Rex Alfie Lee
      Thumb Down

      Oh Friggin Crap!

      Problem with the use of "f**ck" & "f**cking" in having 2 asterisks plus the "c" is that the word being written isn't "fuck" or "fucking" at all. It is "frick" & "fricking" which completely nullifies the intent of the ASA. Of course one could argue that "frick" means "fuck" after all but so does "bloody" in many adjective uses that "fuck" has; eg bloody bastard, bloody bitch, bloody mongrel etc.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    FAIL

    Oh FECK they're onto me bejaysus

    Re-runs of Father Ted to be censored begorrah!

    Drink Feck Ar5e Girls!

  4. Anonymous Coward
    WTF?

    I'm not surprised

    I'm no liberal and the language doesn't offend me in the slightest, but there's a fundamental clash between making out that it can't be offensive because it's not in plain text, but that it's clear enough for the reader to understand. It's obviously not the combination of letters that the readers find offensive, but the word being used. So if someone finds a different way of representing that word, then it's *still* that word - so long as it's obvious enough to the majority of people what the word being represented is.

    If someone is offended by "fuck" then they'll be offended by "f**k" just the same.

    1. Geoff Campbell
      FAIL

      It's a nice indication of where the offense lies.

      People who take offense at the use of the word "fuck", but not at "f*ck", or "feck", or any one of a number of other fig-leave conveniences, are neatly and usefully marking themselves out. Whilst they *claim* to be offended by the word, in reality they are playing "Won't somebody *please* think of the children?" and assuming that "f*ck* is OK because children won't know what it means.

      They have presumably not been in many school playgrounds.

      GJC

      1. johnnytruant

        As I understand it

        In Ireland, feck is a different word - not a fig leaf for fuck in the same way that f**k is. Feck is the crap to fuck's shit. You can say crap on kids tv, but not shit. Same same for feck.

        Also, FCUK is the internal abbreviation at French Connection for the UK office. The story goes that Trevor Beattie (the ad exec who came up with the FCUK campaign) was at a meeting at French Connection about rebranding when a fax came in from the Hong Kong office (FCHK) headed "Attn: FCUK." The rest is, as they say, history.

        1. Geoff Campbell
          Thumb Up

          @Johnnytruant

          Fair enough, I stand corrected on that one. Always good to learn something new.

          GJC

        2. BoldMan

          FCUK off you bastards

          Personally I'm more offended by seeing posters for FCUK around town than I am about seeing the word FUCK, a word I use on occasion. Seeing FCUK makes me annoyed because we all KNOW these wanker marketing fucks are trying to make us see FUCK and think its funny.

          FCUKing wankers!

  5. The Beer Monster
    Coat

    Well...

    That's my f**king new bas**rd approach to marketing f**cked right up the shi**er then.

  6. Ian Emery Silver badge
    Coat

    2 = "widespread"??

    WT*?

    Getting coat and off on touring holiday of Es*** and Sus***

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      hey why not head a little further north..

      Perhaps S****horpe...

      1. Andrew the Invertebrate

        Forget S****horpe

        how do you think the peope of *****tone and Ligh* ***er Valley feel?

    2. Mitch Kent

      Agreed

      Every story that you hear in the media about the ASA always starts with the widespread complaints from < 5 people.

      Somehow they kick up enough fuss to warrant the power and news coverage.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Agreed

        The number of people who bother to make a formal complaint is most likely a lot less than the number who find an advertisement questionable. Even a single complaint is still infinitely greater than the number of formal praises. Next time you see an advert that you think others might find distasteful why not write to the ASA letting them know how refreshing you found it, redress the balance so to speak. In the case in question the promotion, or as I prefer to call it, unsolicited bulk mailing (spam by any other name...) was sent to 1000 households. Two from 1000 extrapolated to the whole polpulation is a lot.

  7. Someone Stole My Handle!!!

    Well

    thats just fucking st**id!

  8. Mike Cardwell

    Fook

    Is "fsck" allowed?

  9. Miek

    Cry babies

    Wah Wah, I was offended. They are Funking Idiots.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Title Goes Here

    If it really was two *'s, as in "I F**CKING LOVE YOU" - I'd of argued it was "fricking", as two *'s suggest two missing letters.

  11. lotus49
    WTF?

    Feck =/= Fuck

    Odd as it sounds, the word feck is actually an Irish word and it does not mean fuck, nor is it a euphemism for it.

    Not that this will stop fecking eejits from taking offence...

    PS WTF icon means what the feck in this case.

    1. Cameron Colley

      It should be an English word too.

      But it only seems to live on in its description of someone with no "feck" being "feckless". Or, perhaps, the English should stop saying "feckless" and replace it with the more consistent "effectless"?

      1. bluesxman
        WTF?

        RE: It should be an English word too

        The most fitting definition I found indicates that "feck" means "worth" or "value" and is of Scottish origin.

        And I'm fairly sure Father Jack wasn't banging on about the inherent worth of things.

        1. Mips
          Jobs Halo

          Hence feckless: without value

          Now you know.

    2. Peter Gathercole Silver badge
      Unhappy

      Don't get me started.

      When trying to fix a problem with a particularly badly sh*gged filesystem late at night, I had the corporate obscenity filters block my mails to and from a vendor support centre because I included a phrase like "I have fsck'd the filesystems, and the problem persists" (btw. I was in phone contact with them as well, but it's difficult to dictate several K of diagnostic data over the phone!)

      I had to wait until the following day for the mails to be released when a real person could check the content. Good thing we worked out why the mails were not getting through.

      I had a moan at the people running the mail filter who said that because it was a commonly used euphemism especially in spam emails, it had been added it to their blocklist. I then checked over a gig. of archived spam from my mailbox gathered over several years (don't ask me why I had kept it, I don't know, but I hadn't run out of disk space at that time) and found precisely 2 uses in many thousand emails. Not so common use, then.

  12. LuMan
    Flame

    One rule..etc..

    OK, so f**k is offensive, but fcuk isn't?? Let's face it, French Connection UK pulled a pretty cool marketing gag with that. You see all manner of slogans using fcuk in them: 'fcuking gorgeous', 'fcuk me' and 'get fcuked' have all appeared on T-shirts and have appeared in magazines (albiet on picture of the t-shirts) as advertising. I'm sure the ASA must have received some complaints. If not, simple - we just anagramise our cursing.

    If the fcuking ASA cnuts don't fcuking well like it, they can just go and fcuking stick their fcuking dciks and cnuts up their fcuking, sihtting asreholes. Wnakers!

    1. markfiend

      FCUK

      As it happens, I believe that French Connection have been told off a number of times for FCUK and derivatives. But "told off" is pretty much all the ASA can do, so French Connection pretty much get away with it.

      On the wider subject, there's very little advertising I don't find annoying. Can I claim offence at Direct Line's ads because I'm sick of the sound of Stephen Fry's voice?

      1. Annihilator
        Alert

        @markfiend

        "Can I claim offence at Direct Line's ads because I'm sick of the sound of Stephen Fry's voice?"

        No, but I'll raise you with two simple words: "Go" and "compare".

        1. Olafthemighty
          Unhappy

          I'll see your Go Compare...

          ..and raise you a "We Buy Any Car".

          1. lpopman
            Headmaster

            titular stake

            I'll see your We Buy Any Car (dot com), and go all in with every pseudo-science laden advert from all of the main "beauty" product manufacturers.

    2. Annihilator

      One rule indeed

      Which is why the ASA stamped down on FCUK. They could use it as a brand, but they were stopped from using advertising slogans in the manner you describe (no doubt dyslexics were offended and complained to the DNA). However, T-Shirts aren't (technically) adverts.

      Top Gear's final episode of the latest series also used humour based on anagrams, pointing out that there were anagrams in abundance (GOSH and LIAR on James and Richard's car), before cutting to his own registration plate of CTU 131N. Don't think there were complaints tho...

      1. David S
        Joke

        Top Gear Anagram

        I liked that. I thought it was some of the most subtle humour I'd seen from the show. "There were a lot of anagrams about..." (cut to JC's plate)

    3. Jimbo 6

      ASA cnuts

      Any relation to King Cnut ???

  13. AAWW
    Thumb Up

    The tabloids have known this for years...

    That's why the Guardian or the Times will print "fuck" but the Sun will print "f***". The latter actually draws more attention to it and heightens the sensationalism.

  14. Andrew the Invertebrate

    I'm showing my age again

    but one of these anti- Mary Whitehouse types in mid to late 70's during a tv interview with the BBC said :

    "I don't believe that there is anyone in Britan that would be seriously offended by the use of the word *beep*"

    30+ years on and they still wouldn't be allowed to use the unedited verison without getting letters about it.

  15. David S
    WTF?

    What the fork?

    Deary me. It's all about appropriate use, isn't it? Like AC@09:34 said.

    I was always a little disturbed by the French Connection thing. Some marketing w*nk (wonk) scored a brownie point or two when he realised the significance of their initials, I'm sure, but I'd say the joke's getting a little long in the tooth. It's been, what, over ten years? Surely they should have grown up by now.

  16. AAWW
    FAIL

    And another thing...

    I love swearing as much as the next person (or more, in all probability) but advertising or marketing that relies on it for humour or effect is weak and lazy beyond belief.

    It reminds me of a sweary advert for Richer Sounds which used to appear in Viz many years ago: they got the tone just wrong, and it seemed crashingly out of place even in the filth-laden pages of that venerable organ.

    1. lpopman
      Go

      titular gland

      hehe, the old Viz Richer Sounds ads :)

      If it's the "Go, Nads Go!" ads for NAD amps, then personally I thought that they were witty and in keeping with the rest of our beloved Viz. An appropriate play on language, I thought anyway.

      I still like the statement on an old Viz cover, "Over 1,000,000 readers, and still none the wiser!"

      Where's the crudely drawn cock and balls icon when you need it?

      1. King Jack
        Joke

        Where's the crudely drawn cock and balls icon when you need it?

        That would be Extreme Porn and get you locked up and branded for life.

        1. TeeCee Gold badge
          Coat

          @King Jack

          Actually I was wondering how there could be such a thing as a tastefully drawn cock and balls icon.....

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Heart

    I F**KING LOVE YOU!!

    So please upvote my f**king post...

  18. Geoff Mackenzie

    serious or widespread offence

    Two people complained to the ASA

  19. Tigra 07 Silver badge

    What did they f**king expect?

    Wait til they see my business cards

    "a c*nt of an offer!"

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I bet Sarah's loving this

    As all the immature little boys crawl out of the woodwork after being given a charter to use naughty words to show us grown ups they aren't offended, as evidenced by Keith 21. As an aside, is the 21 your IQ?

    There is a time and a place for everything. I come from a mining family and have been down the mines, every other word is an expletive yet when these blokes were on the surface and in the company of women or children not a single one of them would talk out of line.

    As the adjudication said "We noted the expletive was irrelevant to the product...", ie. neither the time nor the place for such wording. Also, this was supposed to be along the lines of a valentines card greeting, I don't consider the text even remotely romantic. But then I don't consider myself a Beavis and Butthead type juvenile moron, maybe times have changed.

  21. Whitter
    Alert

    FCUK

    That is all.

    1. CD001

      Showing your age...

      ----

      But then I don't consider myself a Beavis and Butthead type juvenile moron, maybe times have changed.

      ----

      Considering even Beavis and Butthead themselves would be in their mid-30s by now (by my reckoning) - I suspect most people under the age of 30 have never even heard of them.

      Still, it's got the ad company several column inches they'd never have had otherwise - I'd not have heard of them had it not been for this "outrage".

  22. Select * From Handle
    Thumb Up

    YAY!

    Does this mean that we wont see brands in shop with the letters "FCUK" written on them...!

  23. Robert Ramsay

    I was amused...

    To see a T-Shirt which said in big letters "I DON'T GIVE A F**K"

    Surely if he really didn't give a fuck he'd not have starred the letters out.

    But he looked like he ate Alsation sandwiches for breakfast so I didn't point it out to him.

  24. This post has been deleted by its author

    1. Peter Gathercole Silver badge
      Flame

      Wrong article?

      I would have thought that this would have been caught by the Moderatorix.

      I'm going to use this as another call to get a reason for rejection added if a comment is rejected (dig, dig.)

      1. Sarah Bee (Written by Reg staff)

        Re: Wrong article?

        I'm not infallible, you know. The commenter's withdrawn that comment himself.

        You are still going to have to suck it up if you get a comment rejected, though...

      2. LinkOfHyrule
        Happy

        "I'm going to use this as another call to get a reason for rejection added if a comment is rejected"

        "I'm going to use this as another call to get a reason for rejection added if a comment is rejected"

        Oh please no, otherwise all my rejected ones will say "rejected due to commenter being a immature libellous knob who thinks he funny but is actually pathetic" or something along those lines i'm sure!

        What I would like though, is the number of up-voted and down-voted for each users comments displayed along side their username in the forums. Then we will know who's winning! ;o)

        1. LinkOfHyrule

          Duh

          I actually meant the TOTAL all time up votes and down-votes covering all forum posts, not the current post, I just realised that I had forgot to say earlier and consequentially you might think i'm thick! Haha! Silly me!

  25. Anonymous Coward
    WTF?

    What the ****?

    I can't **** ******* the ******* *******. They ******* ****** a ****. Then again, I couldn't give a ****.

  26. Soruk
    FAIL

    @gerryg

    Wrong thread?

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I don't remember where I read it

    But someone pointed out that if you (and this was 10 years ago) walked up to a first grader and asked them to complete this sentence: Mike Tyson is one bad ________. They would respond with muthafucka, whether or not they understood what the words meant. This illustrates the point that censorship is quite meaningless, because if everyone knows that f**k means fuck, then why can't we just use the work fuck.

    Personally, I'm offended by the three-letter-words g*d and t*x and s*x so can everyone just stop mentioning god, stop collectiong tax, and stop fucking.

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    F***

    Should have just put feck.

  29. Mike Richards Silver badge

    Clarification needed

    Is it the trailing 'k' that makes f**k offensive to the ASA. If I were to write f*** in my screamingly witty advertising would that be okay?

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Joke

    Monty Python

    (from memory)

    I bet you they won't play this song on the radio

    I bet you they won't play this <bleep> song

    It's not that its <bleep> or <bleep> controversial

    It's just that the <bleep>ing words are awfully strong

    You can't say <bleep> on the radio

    Or <bleep> or <bleep> or <bleep>

    You can't even say I'd like to <bleep> you someday

    Unless you're a doctor with a very large <bleep>

    So, I bet you they won't play this song on the radio

    I bet you they daren't <bleep>ing well programme it

    I bet they're a bunk of <bleep>ing directors

    who think it's a load of horse<bleep>

  31. NightFox
    Thumb Up

    Think of the Children

    It's a shame that so many take the view that because they're not offended, anyone who is offended by swearing is in some way backwards. What happened to respecting other people's views? Yes, when I'm at work or in the pub I'll use the occasional considered swear word for impact, but I'd still like people to show some consideration when I'm out somewhere with my young kids.

    Maybe it's a double standard that I swear myself but don't want to hear others swearing in certain circumstances, but I'd still like to think we live in a society where people could respect that, whatever their own personal views.

  32. F3RGU
    WTF?

    Radio 4 F**kers

    It's always amused me that Radio presenters have to jump through hoops to avoid to avoid or apologize for relatively mild swearing, while Radio 4 can get away with all manner of "cunts" and "fucks" in the dialogue of an afternoon play.

    Maybe it's just working class swearing that is offensive.

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Fuck is the worst word that you can say...

    Just use the word Mmmkay!

  34. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    obligatory f***ing title

    Malcolm Tucker at his best -

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s9arSotadmY

    1. Anomalous Cowturd

      Hmmmmm. I don't think so.

      You might get the odd expletive on Radio 4, but as a long time listener, I can't recall ever hearing the word cunt in an afternoon play. Or fuck for that matter. Or maybe I'm just inured to it all after a lifetime of being a bloke?

      Book at bedtime perhaps?

      Now prove me wrong, you feckers! And that's a word I heard on the radio whilst holidaying in the Emerald Isle!

      1. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

        Not the afternoon play, but...

        The c*nt word was used on air by an female artist (can't remember the name, can't be bothered to look it up) on Front Row, which airs on Radio 4 between 19:15 and 19:45 (well before the watershed) I guess about 5-6 years ago. It was used in relation to an art installation of a particularly sexual nature, IIRC, involving models sitting in provocative postures with no underwear, a la Basic Instinct.

        Mark Lawson (I think it was) made a hurried apology, together with a request not to use such language on air to the interviewee. Again, IIRC, the terms vagina and vulva were also used several times, but they were not censured. I think it was more shocking to Mark because it was a woman who said it.

        Laugh, I could have crashed the car!

  35. Mycho Silver badge

    Didn't French Connection get some trouble once?

    I remember they tried to complain that a website, it may have been www.fcuk.co.uk I don't remember, was abusing the goodwill in their brand name, and the judge replied that there was no goodwill in a poorly obfuscated usage of the word fuck.

  36. Cunningly Linguistic
    Flame

    Honestly...

    ...I cannot genuinely understand how people can be offended what is arguably the most useful word in the English language.

    It doesn't matter where in the world (regardless of the local language) one uses it, it will always be understood. And contrary to the proponents of the "lazy" argument; used appropriately "fuck" (as an adverb or a noun) can achieve what no other word can with regard to vehemence or 'highlighting'.

    In this ever increasing world of political correctness the number of people looking to be offended is increasing steadily enough that sooner or later language will be so utterly bereft of sentiment and emotion as to be boring as fuck!

  37. ShaggyDoggy

    Huh

    If they don't know what it means, how can they find it offensive ?

    If they do know what it means, how come they still find it offensive ?

    1. Slartybardfast

      Really

      Some people find the word offensive when it's used out of context. In context there's nothing wrong with it. I believe that sending it in an unsolicited mailshot with no real idea of recipient is out of context.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Boffin

      Surely.....

      Surely 'fuck' is so useful as an emphatic *because* it can be offensive. If people used it too often it would quickly be robbed of it's power.

      The black and the gay communities (and to a lesser extent women's groups with the c-word) have exploited this to de-fang some pretty hateful words.

  38. Ian 45

    Swearing

    Noticed on last nights QI they bleeped out the word fuck even though it was on after 10pm. They seemed to allow shit though...... The UK is now so PC.

  39. moonface

    Swear words!

    Who originally had the bright idea to associate excreta and procreation, with these vulgar and offensive sound waves!!

    The ancestral glottogonic fool!

  40. Bernard M. Orwell Silver badge
    Headmaster

    An f'in quote or two.

    "Swearing is a really important part of one's life and it would be impossible to imagine going through life without swearing and without enoying swearing here and there used to be mad, silly, prissy people who would say swearing is a sign of a poor vocabulary as such; utter nonsense! The people I know who swear the most tend to have the widest vocabularies!" ~ Stephen Fry

    "if you don't like this swearing that this motherfucker forced from me, and reckon it's just moral or intellectual paucity, then fuck you, motherfucker, this is language one employs when one is fucking cross about fuckers fucking boys." ~ Tim Minchin, referring to the Pope.

    "The sort of twee person who thinks that swearing is in anyway a sign of a lack of education, or a lack of verbal interest, is just a fucking lunatic." ~ also Stephen Fry

    "I refuse to engage in a battle of wits with those who are clearly unarmed." ~ Oscar Wilde

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Paraphrasing Stephen Fry

      "Once I run out of intellectual sounding arguments I waffle on about anything and hope nobody notices".

      Tim Minchin is ranting not advertising

      You are obviously no match for Oscar Wilde as a battle of wits is not a swearing match.

    2. Andrew the Invertebrate

      have another on the house

      "There is no such thing as bad language, just language used badly" - Billy Conolley (who might have been quoting someone else)

  41. Loyal Commenter Silver badge
    Stop

    It is quite simple really.

    A word, itself, cannot be offensive. However, with a little creativity, any word can be used to CAUSE offence. The offence comes not from the word itself, but from subtleties of context.

    For example, if I were doing some DIY and hit my thumb with a hammer, all sorts of words may come out of my mouth; the sentiment expressed would be of annoyance and of pain and anyone pretending to be offended by such an outburst should be labelled a prude.

    On the other hand, the same words can be used in different contexts and be extremely offensive, for example in a sexist or racist context. In this case, it's not the words that are offensive, but the sexism and racism.

    So, in conclusion: to all of you offended by 'swear' words, learn more about language, syntax and semantics. Learn to communicate effectively and not take faux offence at other people's mode of expression simply because of their choice of vocabulary. And remember, according to Kevin Bloody Wilson, 'you can't say cunt in Canada'.

  42. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

    Actually, thinking about it

    The asterisk itself is being used as a signifier for the context of the word, effectively saying, 'I am using the wod fuck in a context which is designed to cause offence'. I myself have noted the use of the uncensored words 'fuck' and 'shit' in such publications as New Scientist, and thought only that it is unusualt to see these words in print, rather than take offence. When F**K is emblazoned across the front page of a newspaper, however, surely the whole point is to be offensive. If this is the case, surely it's the asterisk that is causing the offence, and we should ban this sick filth forthwith!*

    *For those who are unable to distinguish it from reality, this is irony.

  43. JaitcH
    Alert

    The deterioration in language skills id regrettable ...

    but if the Neanderthals that populate the ASA committee were to stand outside almost any middle or senior school and delete every use of the colloquial word for intercourse many youths, of either sex, would have a sizeable chunk of their vocabulary eliminated.

    The standard should be the acceptable language of society not some do-gooders trying to impose their wishes on the public.

    How does the British-based FCUK survive?

    An interesting report stated: "FCUK is indeed perceived as particularly styling among the 14 to 17 year old segment, according to the Portman Group, a British drinks industry panel. So interestingly, the AFA's media-tized petition might actually backfire in the mind of the youth it intends to protect. To rebellious teens, such a reaction – an uptight, out-of-touch reaction, they might say from the "old folks" – can only make a seemingly cool brand even more attractive. Could it be possible that FCUK connects with its young audience better than many parents do?"

    It's all a play on words, if they had allowed "I F**CKING LOVE YOU" (sic), what about "I LOVE F**CKING YOU" (sic)?

  44. Shadowfirebird
    Pint

    The ***le is re*****d, and must ****ain letters and/or digits.

    I once had a friend at the First University of Kent in Canterbury. Apparently they had to change the name. (Supposedly) true story.

  45. disgruntled yank Silver badge

    Might I suggest

    A gander at Robert Graves's essay "Lars Porsena, Or the Future of Swearing?"

    I'm glad you are not offended; I agree that the "poverty of vocabulary" bit is overdone. But what begins as daring taboo-breaking ends as unaesthetic littering of the verbal landscape.

  46. serviceWithASmile

    instead of "F**CKING"

    if they had written "WE GO FORTH AND MULTIPLYING LOVE YOU", would it still have been banned?

    because we still know what that means.

  47. The Metal Cod

    So...

    "Marketing communications should contain nothing that is likely to cause serious or widespread offence."

    Where does that leave purveyors of training courses whose mendacity claims that the average salary in IT is £37k? You know, the ones the ASA did f**k all about? Mendacious claims like that are offensive to me and most of my colleagues in IT who aren't anywhere near that.

    Not complaining about my salary, I'm complaining that the purveyors of this garbage get away with it because the ASA, just like the ICO, has no balls at all.

  48. stucs201
    Paris Hilton

    All this f**king and noone has used...

    ...the paris icon.

    1. Geoff Campbell
      Happy

      Only £37k?

      A quick squint at www.itjobswatch.co.uk seems to me to support an average salary of somewhere around £37k for a permanent job in IT. Obviously a first year desk-side support wonk won't earn that, but that's what "average" means, do you see?

      I suspect that if we include contract positions, the average will be way over £37k. Depends how you measure it, and which roles you include or exclude, of course, as with all statistics.

      Which, for this failed product of the 1970s comprehensive "education" system, is very comforting indeed.

      GJC

      1. Peter Gathercole Silver badge
        Headmaster

        @Geoff

        Being pedantic, are we talking mean, mode or median. These are all 'averages', but have significant differences. In particular, If you can find a job at 12K, and one at 62K, then the median would be 37K, regardless of the actual distribution. Consider the following set of numbers:

        1,1,2,2,2,2,2,4,4,10.

        10 numbers, totalling 30.

        Mode is 2, Mean is 3, Median is 5.5. I would point out that there one hell of a difference between the Mode and the Median.

        I do not have the stats, but bearing in mind how many PC first line support jobs appear to be at the 15-20K level, and how prevalent windows systems are, I've often wondered about the source of these £37K average figures.

        There is one classic '50's or '60's news clip of a Union representative who says into camera something like "We will not stop this action until all of our members are being paid at least the average wage", which of course, if applied to all workers (not just his union members, admittedly), would mean that everyone would be paid the same. Still, Maths education must be better than that nowadays, mustn't it?

        It's a Maths teacher, obviously.

  49. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Title

    Oh Frak.

  50. Eddy Ito Silver badge
    Grenade

    Says it all, no?

    A fabulous phrase that really defines what censorship is really all about.

    "... the intended meaning was still clear,"

    So there you have it. Swearing is fine as long as nobody knows what you mean thus rendering language itself pointless. So it begins, fuck begets f**k from which follows... F-word? How long before "F-word" and the like become just as offensive because "the intended meaning was still clear"?

    To the ASA, all I can say is, the phrase symbolizing a word or words which may imply some form of carnal knowledge on your part. Oh dear, I hope that wasn't too clear.

  51. Nebulo
    Unhappy

    Oh ...

    Firkin.

    Ell.

    Two fine old English words.

  52. Mike Kamermans
    FAIL

    math fail

    The ASA's rulebook, known as the CAP Code, says: "Marketing communications should contain nothing that is likely to cause serious or widespread offence."

    +

    Two out of millions of people complained to the ASA, saying the language was offensive.

    =

    CAP Code perfectly obeyed.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: math fail

      You're quite correct you have failed maths and also basic literacy. The article clearly states 1000 households were targeted. So it's 2 out of 1000 which if my maths is any good equates to 2000 out of one million and substantially more out of millions.

  53. Nev Silver badge
    Coat

    Bill Hicks had it right...

    "By the way, if anyone here is in marketing or advertising...kill yourself."

    Bill

  54. Paul RND*1000
    Grenade

    2/1000

    So, to sum up: Based on a sample of 1000 households the most fragile, easily offended 0.2% (at *most*) of the population can effectively overrule the other 99.8% who don't see what the big fuss is, or who are grown-up enough to not force their own personal moral views on others (they're free to not do business with that company, and find one which fits in with their own views, after all).

    This is why we have the creeping insanity that is political correctness.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @Paul RND*1000

      How many people formally contacted the ASA in support of the advertisement, I'd take a guess at 0. So 0.0% of the population supported it against 0.2% who didn't. 0.2/0.0 is a very large proportion of those who voted who were against..

  55. kevin biswas
    WTF?

    unsolicited bulk mail...

    Of ANY kind more or less DEFINES 'serious or widespread offence' as far as I am concerned, irrespesctive of whether they ****ing well ***k or not.

  56. Argus Tuft
    Happy

    this f**ckin f**k counter

    is completely f**cken f**cked...

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gJIk01p_x7U

  57. John F***ing Stepp

    What?

    Maybe it stands for Failing.

    Falling?

    Fluggelhorning?

    (OK, perhaps not that one.)

    'Sides we can't do that any more, we are married.

    (Who would have thought that a Fluggelhorn would be that loud.)

  58. Mips
    Jobs Horns

    But apparently ...

    .. they have not yet banned WTF

    So: WTF, WTF, WTF, WTF, WTF, WTee eeF

    Anyone want to hear some bottom burps?

  59. MarkieMark1
    Happy

    Let's get

    The flock out of dodge, it's seriously f*cked up

    they can't even count 2 stars

  60. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I think F*** is worse than Fuck

    When you see asterisks people automatically translate the asterisks into the words correct spelliing, the more involved act of doing the translation (rather than just reading it) makes the reader more aware of the swearing rather than less aware

    I don't swear and I object to people effectively making me swear in my thought process.

    I'm not expecting everyone to not swear, but for those who habitually swear it totally loses its effect, they escalate from what would be considered mild swearing to swearing that many/most people would be uncomfortable with.

  61. Anonymous Coward
    Coat

    Why doesn't people get real?

    'Fuck' is one of the most common words in actual English. Why the censorship?

    It can cause offense? People get offended by the most silly things. I don't get offended by the use of expletives but I do get offended by the use of publicity, for instance, and I certainly get offended by retard censorship on retard grounds. Still I have to put up with all that junk for some odd reason and somehow preventing myself from going suicidal in the face of such depressing immaturity.

    Get real, grow up. Expletives don't matter.

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