David Ortiz forgiven by FCC for expletive Boston will never forget

David Ortiz used an expletive in his defiant (and televised) speech Saturday before the first Red Sox home game since the Boston Marathon bombing. The FCC has already weighed in.  

Michael Dwyer/AP
Boston Red Sox slugger David Ortiz pumps his fist in front of an American flag and a line of Boston Marathon volunteers after addressing the crowd before a baseball game between the Red Sox and the Kansas City Royals in Boston Saturday.

On a day when the city of Boston came to Fenway Park for its collective exhale, honoring the governor and mayor and law enforcement officials who have served with such distinction during the past week of terror, it was the one indelible moment. The crowd roared louder than it had all afternoon. People on the Internet are already making T-shirts.

It was, in five words, the encapsulation of a city's defiance – bowed, but never broken. Not even close.

It also happened to be NSFW (not safe for work). Or children. Or anyone in Mr. Rogers' neighborhood. 

It was the declaration by legendary Red Sox slugger David Ortiz in pregame ceremonies Saturday, which were broadcast nationwide.

"This is our f------ city, and nobody's going to dictate our freedom."

In recent years, the Federal Communications Commission has taken to calling such incidents "fleeting expletives," and has grown increasingly grumpy about them. For years, the major television networks behaved themselves, pushing any potentially objectionable content past 10 p.m., when kids who might ask "Mommy, what is cow s---?" had already gone to bed.

Then came reality TV star Nicole Richie, who said live during the December 2003 Billboard awards show on Fox, "Have you ever tried to get cow s--- out of a Prada purse? It's not so f------ simple."

Or U2 singer Bono, who said during NBC's broadcast of the Golden Globes awards show earlier that year: "f------ brilliant."

For these incidents and others, the FCC responded by fining networks more than $1 million. Though the fines were later overturned by the Supreme Court, the point was made. There was a new sheriff in town. The networks have responded, running awards shows on several-second delays so they can beep out any offenders.

But on Saturday, no one beeped out Mr. Ortiz – known to Bostonians as "Big Papi." And within the hour, FCC chairman Julius Genachowski had taken to Twitter to say that was just fine.

"David Ortiz spoke from the heart at today's Red Sox game. I stand with Big Papi and the people of Boston - Julius," the tweet read.

Mark Townsend of Yahoo's Big League Stew blog added his 2 cents: "There's a right time, and there's a wrong time to be too emotional. Today was definitely the right time (and yes, I know there were children in the building)."

Commenters largely agreed. One, named Hawk, summed up the sentiment this way: "I'm gonna go ahead and vote Papi for MVP. Most Valuable Phrasing!" Another, named Ted, added: "When Papi said that, I got goosebumps."

On a joyous day to end a tragic week that Boston – and the world – will not soon forget, Ortiz's expletive was anything but fleeting, it seems.

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