Banning “the B-Word” is a Limit on Free Speech: Attempt in Mass. to Ban the Word “B***h” Sparks Debate

by The Cowl Editor on November 21, 2019



by Emily Ball ’22

Opinion Staff

When I say “the b-word,” I am sure hundreds of words come to your head. Beautiful, bird, baking, basket — of the thousands and thousands of words that begin with the letter “B,” Massachusetts is taking ridiculous steps in attempting to ban one of them. 

Boston Democratic Representative Daniel Hunt sponsored a bill that would ban the word “b***h” in the state of Massachusetts, making it illegal to speak that word. This bill, which reflects the sensitive nature of society today, would take away basic rights from Massachusetts’ citizens. 

“According to the bill, penalties would be similar to those outlined in the other subsections of the state law, which, depending on the subsection, provide for a fine of not more than either $150 or $200, or jail time of up to six months,” Christopher Gavin from said.

Hunt sponsored this bill because of a request by a Massachusetts constituent. After receiving backlash from the Republican party, Hunt posted on his Twitter account clarifying why he sponsored such a bill. 

“One of the responsibilities of all Representatives is to serve as a conduit for direct petitions from our constituents. It’s a long-held tradition that gives every Massachusetts resident a voice inside the halls of the State House and a chance to raise their personal interests before the legislature. While this specific instance may amuse some and alarm others, it remains an important process for self-representation,” Hunt said. 

While the government is responsible for taking the constituents’ opinions into account, they should not be taking away basic rights from their constituents in doing so. This ban, if enacted, would violate the First Amendment, which allows American citizens the right to freedom of speech. “Banning these words creates a culture of censorship,” Leo Hainline ‘22 said. “Freedom of speech is something that we should value and preserve, and banning words, even if some find them offensive, is detrimental to the fundamental values we hold as a country.” 

Some people may argue that the government has the responsibility to violate the First Amendment if the word is hateful or derogatory; however, this argument is invalid because the word “b***h” is not only used in a hateful manner, but often in a joking manner among friends. 

Although it is technically a curse word, the word “b***h” is a word that does not reflect any hateful intentions. The use of this word is mostly in a joking manner among friends, not in a manner of bullying or demeaning others. The fact that someone could receive jail time for saying the word “b***h,” especially if it is in a casual manner among friends, is evidence that people are becoming too sensitive in current society.  

“It’s not like ‘b***h’ is hate speech or anything close to that,” Leo Hainline ‘22 explained. “And I think it is a reflection of how soft and sensitive people are getting these days.” 

Further, banning the word “b***h” indirectly affects various industries such as the music industry, the talk-show industry, and the social media industry in Boston where people would then need to act with extra precautions when speaking at their job.  

Although there are plenty of derogatory words that do aim at demeaning others, “b***h” is not one of them. Banning this word in the state of Massachusetts does not improve the well-being of the citizens, it just infringes on their basic rights and encourages the sensitivity present in society today, and you can legally call me a “b***h” for saying that.