Hello and welcome. I'm Dr George Lundberg and this is At Large at Medscape.

Where are Lenny Bruce and George Carlin when we need them? In 1966, Lenny had nine words and in 1972 George had the "Seven Words You Can Never Say on Television." Uttering them in public got them both into deep s***—woops, that was one of the nine and seven words. The other six were p***, f***, c***, c*********, m***********, and t***. Lenny's nine also included a** and b****.

Our modern society, especially because of cable TV and very much because of the Internet, social media, and even Wikipedia, has, for better or worse—and I am not sure which—demolished all of those barriers, except for broadcast TV, which still requires government approval via the FCC. You know—that group of five commissioners of the Federal Communication Commission that just abolished net neutrality, 3 to 2.[1]

A BuzzFeed column says it isn't seven or nine words at all. It is really 68 "dirty words."

Frankly, I have never understood how any collection of letters into a word could be "dirty," sort of like, how could any thought be "unclean"?

Fast-forward to CDC budget preparation "instructions" [for documents] ultimately headed to Trump's Office of Management and Budget, aka OMB, headed up in 2017 by that lovable Carolinian, John Michael Mulvaney.

The new seven dirty words, as of December 17, 2017, widely reported as "not to be used" in any budget preparation by the CDC, are: "evidence-based," "science-based," "diversity," "entitlement," "fetus," "transgender," and "vulnerable." The Trump political foes, myself included, jumped to believe the worst, although some government folks have tried to walk those instructions back a bit.

We physicians and all of us public health folks know that we will use any words we damn well please to get the necessary point across to whomsoever the audience be, whether a patient in the office, a family in the ER, or the public at large.

And anybody in the government who tells us not to can go jump in the f****** lake, or better yet, that endless fiery pit.

Now, I am sure that the seasoned bureaucratic staffs at the CDC will find a way to use workaround language to continue to do their jobs well until this newest abomination disappears.

And then there is HealthNewsReview publisher Gary Schwitzer's seven words a journalist should not use in reporting medical news: cure, miracle, breakthrough, promising, dramatic, hope, and victim.

Do you, dear readers, have any no-no words you would like to share with us on the discussion board?

Since Lenny and George have departed this life, I guess it is up to folks like Jimmy Kimmel, Seth Meyers, and John Oliver to carry us on.

That's my opinion. I'm Dr George Lundberg, at large for Medscape.


Comments on Medscape are moderated and should be professional in tone and on topic. You must declare any conflicts of interest related to your comments and responses. Please see our Commenting Guide for further information. We reserve the right to remove posts at our sole discretion.
Post as: