certain offensive/swear-words are censored in the UK, mostly on the TV.
swear-words are censored according to the normal TV censorship rules (i.e., with reference to who might be watching, etc) and are prone to being cut out, voice-overed, or replaced with a 'beep' or period of silence.
Research into how offensive words are was commissioned by the BBC, advertising standards authority, broadcasting standards commission, and the indipendant television commission. It is apparently used (at the very least by the BBC) as a guide to what words to dissallow:
Ranked order of words according to severity:
- Piss off
- Pissed off
- Jesus Christ
if i remember correctly, you can't actually say 'cunt' on TV.
the same report categorises swear-words by type, as to how offensive they are:
- baby talk (poo, wee, bum), stupid insults (berk)
- sound-alikes ('peace off' for 'piss off'); double-entaundres (salad tosser)
- blasphemy; f.c.u.k; b*****d; presumably stuff like FU; americanisms (hooch)
- swear words (shit, fuck off)
- sexual swear-words (I wanna fuck, dick, pussy); adjective swear-words (fucking monkey)
- insults/minority-abuse (wanker, slag, spastic, poof)
- racist (nigger)
No doubt, swearing at people is probably illegal, espescially 'bigoted' swear-words (faggot, nigger, etc)
the British Board of Film Classification censors swearing, 'justified' by the fact that it goes against 'broad public opinion on what is acceptable'.
This censoring is partially absolute and partially restrictive (lots of 'fucks' are restricted to >18)