Dirty water

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Comedian George Carlin shot to stardom in the 1970s on the strength of his taboo-busting Seven Dirty Words routine, which featured a string of obscenities that were banned from TV. Every self-respecting high school student of that time could recite the list verbatim, and frequently did.

Adventure-tour operators had better think about dusting off that list and passing it out to clients before sending them out into the world. It just may keep loose-lipped travelers out of the hoosegow.

Timothy Boomer knows the peril of being a public potty-mouth better than most. While canoeing eastern Michigan's Standish River in a rented boat, Boomer, who apparently is better at cursing than canoeing, let rip a colorful (mostly blue) monologue after hitting a rock and landing in the drink. He was charged with using indecent language and faces a criminal trial today.

Lesser publicized than Boomer's alleged penchant for bawdy language is the contention that his troubles are the result of a crackdown on canoe tours that locals say have gotten out of hand. Michigan's 101-year-old language law fit the bill nicely. So, tour operators, listen up. First, give your canoeing clients the list. Next, make sure to tell them not to throw it in the river, especially in Michigan. Who knows what the penalty is for littering with dirty words.

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