The F Word

Baker, John JBaker at STRADLEY.COM
Tue Mar 27 15:25:42 UTC 2001

        I don't see the language you quote in the version of Fitzpatrick v.
State on Westlaw.  Instead, I see the following from that case:

        >>Some of the witnesses say deceased call defendant a "mother f---g
son of a bitch" first . . . . The defendant, in his own testimony, says that
he did not remember anything that occurred after the deceased called him "a
mother f---g s---n of a b---h" . . . .<<

37 Tex. Crim. at 31, 38 S.W. at 809.  (This form of citation indicates that
the quoted material is found in volume 37, page 31 of Texas Criminal Reports
[I'm not sure of the exact name], and in volume 38, page 809 of West
Publishing Company's Southwest Reporter.)

        >>"He said, 'You God damn mother f---g s---n of a b---h, I'll fight
you any way on earth.' . . ."  Defendant then proceeds to tell that his
mother raised him, -that he lived with her until she died, at which time he
was 17 years of age. . . .

        . . . As was said in Graham v. State (Tex. Cr. App.) 33 S.W. 537,
this was merely an insult to the defendant himself, and not in the nature of
a slander or insult towards a female relation.<<

Id. at 33 - 34, 38 S.W. at 810.

        Also note the odd recharacterization of the language in the headnote
(an editorial summary supplied by the publisher):

        >>A charge that the defendant was "a mother and sister riding son of
a bitch" is not such insulting language towards a female relative as to  . .
. reduce the homicide to manslaughter.<<

        I also note another case from the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals
(inexplicably missed in my prior search), which is the earliest case I see
using mother-fucking with the word spelled out in full.  The case is Puryear
v. State, 40 Tex. Crim. 454, 98 S.W. 258 (Nov. 28, 1906):

        >>A short time after he returned, appellant drew a six-shooter and
told deceased, in a loud tone of voice, that he would shoot his God damn
heart out, and called him a mother-fucking son of a bitch.<<

40 Tex. Crim. at 456, 98 S.W. at 259.

John Baker

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Fred Shapiro [SMTP:fred.shapiro at YALE.EDU]
> Sent: Tuesday, March 27, 2001 7:35 AM
> Subject:      Re: The F Word
> On Tue, 27 Mar 2001, Baker, John wrote:
> >         The same earthy court gives us an antedating of mother-fucking,
> > which The F Word takes back only to 1933.  This is from the case of
> Sunday
> > v. State, 77 Tex. Crim. 26, 177 S.W. 97 (May 26, 1915), in an opinion by
> > Judge Harper:
> This is a truly notable antedating, and (together with the 1846
> "fuck") constitutes perhaps the best linguistic result
> obtained from the legal databases other than the 1793 usage of
> "politically correct."  But there are even earlier uses of
> "mother-fucking" in Westlaw and Lexis.  The earliest on Lexis is the
> following 1897 occurrence:
> The deceased called the defendant a mother-fucking son-of-a-bitch just
> preceeding the fatal shot.
>         Fitzpatrick v. State, 37 Tex. Crim. 20, 38 S.W. 806 (1897)
> The page numbers above are those of the beginning of the case.  The page
> numbers of the "mother-fucking" citation are not clear from Lexis; I will
> check these later today in the books and post further details.
> Fred Shapiro
> --------------------------------------------------------------------------
> Fred R. Shapiro                             Editor
> Associate Librarian for Public Services     YALE DICTIONARY OF QUOTATIONS
>   and Lecturer in Legal Research            Yale University Press,
> Yale Law School                             forthcoming
> e-mail: fred.shapiro at     
> --------------------------------------------------------------------------

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