Apparently Arizona Has Solved All Its Serious Problems

There must not be any serious problems left for the Arizona State Legislature to worry about, because they are presently considering a bill that would bar teachers and professors from using bad language:

In what has to be the most hilariously unconstitutional piece of legislation that I’ve seen in quite some time, senators in the Arizona state legislature have introduced a bill that would require all educational institutions in the state — including state universities — to suspend or fire professors who say or do things that aren’t allowed on network TV. Yes, you read that right: at the same time the Supreme Court is poised to decide if FCC-imposed limits on “indecent” content in broadcast media are an anachronism from a bygone era, Arizona state legislators want to limit what college professors say and do to only what is fit for a Disney movie (excluding, of course, the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise. After all, those films are PG-13!).


he bill doesn’t even require that the profanity be uttered in the classroom, it just generally says that if a professor or, for that matter, a K-12 teacher, engages in FCC-regulated conduct or speech at all, he or she can lose their job. Of course, even if this were limited strictly to classroom speech it would still be laughed out of court as unconstitutional on its face.


he law not only hobbles the ability to teach about sexuality and other non-Victorian topics, but it also puts teachers in jeopardy for teaching such mainstays as The Canterbury Tales, The Catcher in the Rye, certainly Ulysses, and probably every work by an obscure English writer named William Shakespeare. These days, such a law could certainly make any professor or teacher think twice about teaching Mark Twain or Kurt Vonnegut. And how on earth could you possibly teach a class about cinema studies without showing movies like The Godfather, The Graduate, Annie Hall, or for that matter, Pulp Fiction?

The proposed law would b e unconstitutional for a number of reasons, but that’s not even half the story here. What, exactly, is it about Arizona schools that makes legislators so concerned about potty-mouthed teachers? Things sure have changed since I was in third grade.

FILED UNDER: Education, US Politics, , , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. michael reynolds says:

    I blame South Park.

  2. Gold Star for Robot Boy says:

    As an Arizonan, I can declare with certainty this state has dumb lawmakers.

  3. Anon says:

    Hmm…I think I’ve said “crappy” before in my lecture. I don’t generally swear out loud, but I do have some fear that I’ll let loose with a “sh*tty” by accident at some point in my professorial career.

    As an aside, having to lecture so often gives me a different perspective on verbal gaffes, and I cut politicians some slack for their impromptu remarks.

  4. Ben says:
  5. roger says:

    I guess a Mass Media Law class in Arizona would need to avoid discussing George Carlin’s classic monologue: “Seven Dirty Words You Cannot Say On Television” or FCC vs. Pacifica Foundation.

    Also, if you think Arizona has all their issues solved, what about LA County and their new rules on throwing things on beaches.

  6. I think is less an issue of the rise of potty mouth as it is the weird turn that Arizona politics has taken of late.

  7. JohnMcC says:

    Are the penalties doubled if they curse in Spanish?

  8. ernieyeball says:

    @roger: “George Carlin’s classic monologue: “Seven Dirty Words You Cannot Say On Television”

    We all know there are two words that need to be added to Carlin’s list…


  9. James in LA says:

    @roger: “Also, if you think Arizona has all their issues solved, what about LA County and their new rules on throwing things on beaches.”

    Apples and oranges. Have you been to Santa Monica beach in high summer? You can barely move. People were getting hurt, and our litigious society took over. The rules only apply to peak summer time hours between Memorial Day and Labor Day. You can go down there today and throw around whatever you like. It will be mid-60s, with some clouds.

  10. vic schmidt says:

    @michael reynolds: Why would anyone want to live or even visit in this state, it is one bizarre and uncivilized story after another!

  11. CA in AZ says:

    From what they are now allowed to say on network TV, there isn’t much to worry about.

  12. roger says:

    @James in LA: Valid point. Didn’t know it was that bad.

    I’ll take walking along the beach in the mid-60s compared to what we’re contending with in Pennsylvania right now. 🙂

  13. Ernieyeball says:

    It will be mid-60s,..
    ..walking along the beach in the mid-60s

    If you guys are walking along the beach and it is the mid-60s…you are doing some really good acid!